These Newly Digitized Military Maps Explore the World of George III

by Sara Georgini/Smithsonianmag.com

He was a world traveler who rarely left home, yet he plotted a course through history for Britain. George III, who reigned from 1760 to 1820, was a pathbreaking monarch and an armchair general whose thirst for knowledge led him to collect more than 55,000 maps, charts, prints, and manuals to savor in his private library.

To mark the bicentennial of his death, the Royal Collection Trust has digitized George’s colorful cache of military maps and documents, some of which date back to as early as the 1500s. Some represent rough sketches.

Other items include highly polished engravings, vivid orders of battle and finely drawn landscapes that depict bygone theatres of peace and war.

The maps also reveal a tantalizing new portrait of the king, reflecting what he knew of the world beyond Windsor Castle and the making of a very modern military mind. While the American Revolution marked a turning point for empire and colonies alike, it’s worth knowing that much of George’s life was marked by war.

As Britain battled through decades of fighting with European and Asian powers, George heeded the history of each win or loss. His universes of interests—astronomy and art, science and culture—all collided in

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