- All Best Essays, Term Papers and Book Report

King George 3

Essay by   •  October 19, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,124 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,557 Views

Essay Preview: King George 3

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

The reign of King George III lasted longer than any previous British Monarch and consisted of many international conflicts including wars in the rest of Europe, Africa, Asia, and the American War for Independence. The historical analysis of George III's life according to Herbert Butterfield has gone through a "kaleidoscope of changing views" which has depended heavily on the prejudices of his biographers and the sources available to them. Over the years, King George has been commonly referred to the "Mad King" and "The King who Lost America". A significant change occurred in 1969 when two psychologists, Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter, diagnosed King George III with a genetic disease called porphyria. Porphyria is a metabolic disease that primarily affects the nervous system resulting in mental illness. Macalpine and Hunter, as well as historians today, used this diagnosis as an explanation of King George's madness and loss of the American colonies. However , a recent histography of King Gerorge III's symptoms has provided evidence that porphyria was the incorrect diagnosis, and that George III was truly insane. This new interpretation of history along with the influence King George III's ministers and parliament during that period proved that porphyria did not play a role in England's questionable relations with its American colonies.

Porphyria characteristically involves extreme attacks of stomach pain, lameness, constipation, hoarseness, delirium, and insomnia. The diagnosis today is determined by observing a reddish-purple color in the urine. It has been reported that King George III suffered five attacks of his illness from 1765 until his death in 1820. Malcapine and Hunter's diagnosis of the king was based on the royal physicians recorded symptoms: "constipation, painful paresis of arm and legs, vocal paresis, sweating, insomnia, delirium, and fits." Hunter believed the "final proof" resulted from the "reports" of discolored urine. Since porphyria is a genetic disorder, Timothy Cox developed a royal pedigree which concluded that many of George III family members had similar symptoms4. Cox also attributed the severity of George III's porphyria attacks, especially mental disturbances, to abnormally high levels of arsenic found in George III's hair sample.

While these reports seem sound, Timothy Peters explains that Macalpine highlighted selected symptoms and suppressed counter evidence. Macalpine explained that his weakness due to affected peripheral nerves would not even allow him to "hold a cup or pen." However, Peters provides evidence to the contrary by citing the king's diary entry about riding on horseback. Macalpine's proposal of weakness in the arms and hands falls apart when picturing King George tightly grasping the reigns, and drawing "plans of the house... with tolerable accuracy" as reported by Colonel Robert Greville. In addition, King George's physical exertions during his manic phase are inconsisten with peripheral neuropathy. A more plausible argument for George's lameness would be the infection from the medicinal blisters used to treat his mental disorder. On the account of lasting persistent abdominal pain, Peters proves that reports of abdominal pain only occurred during the initial attacks. These transient abdominal pains could have been a consequence to repeated prescriptions of tatarized antimony which induces vomiting. Finally, Peters wittingly refutes all reports of discolored urine to prove Hunter's misdiagnosis. First, during each of the King's "attacks" it had been reported



Download as:   txt (6.9 Kb)   pdf (95.9 Kb)   docx (11.5 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 10). King George 3. Retrieved 10, 2011, from

"King George 3" 10 2011. 2011. 10 2011 <>.

"King George 3.", 10 2011. Web. 10 2011. <>.

"King George 3." 10, 2011. Accessed 10, 2011.