January 29, 2020 / 1:12 PM / 2 months ago

George III's American War of Independence maps go public

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 3,000 military maps and prints used by British King George III, including maps of the American War of Independence, have been made available to the public for the first time, marking the 200th anniversary of his death on Wednesday.

George never fought in a battle, nor even left the south of England, but from his library at Buckingham Palace he kept a close eye on the British army, via detailed strategic maps and charts.

The collection, which belongs to the Royal Collection Trust and can be seen on https://militarymaps.rct.uk here/, includes material from the 16th to 18th centuries such as fortification plans, maps of encampments and rough sketches drawn in the field.

The maps give a view of the military as George would have seen it, at a time of major British, European and American conflicts. The Seven Years War (1756–63), the American War of Independence (1775-83) and the French and Napoleonic wars (1792–1815) are among those represented.

Some maps of the American War of Independence were two metres wide and were probably hung on purpose-built mahogany stands, the Royal Collection Trust said.

One map of the British defeat at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781 - the only known copy to survive outside the United States - has an annotation marking “The Field where the British laid down their Arms”.

“It is fitting, and rather moving, that on the 200th anniversary of George III’s death we are able to make the King’s collection of military maps digitally available to all, offering new insight into his topographical interests and his contribution to the cartographic sciences,” said Martin Clayton, the Royal Collection Trust’s Head of Prints and Drawings.

George’s father, George II, was the last British monarch to go to battle at the head of his army but to this day the British royal family are closely involved in the military. The Queen is the official head of the British army, while Prince Philip and Prince Charles served in the navy.

Prince Harry served in the British army for ten years, including two separate stints of active service in Afghanistan.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; editing by Stephen Addison

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