The relationship between Church and State which George III inherited in 1760 was principally one of cooperation. The Church’s goal was to maintain the equilibrium between the forces in the constitution. The first ‘Martyrdom sermons’ of the new reign, preached on the anniversaries of the execution of King Charles I by Bishop Samuel Squire of St David’s and Bishop John Green of Lincoln (in 1762 and 1763 respectively) emphasised the old Whig view that the monarchy was subject to limitations, and that the King should avoid entanglements with politicians who sought to expand royal power. It was a restatement of the early Hanoverian position of balances in the constitution between Parliament, Monarch and Church. Later in the decade the ‘Wilkes and Liberty’ campaign witnessed the Church ranging itself against the radical John Wilkes, and both the Oxford Assize and the Martyrdom sermons of 1769 denounced Wilkes’s views and supported the King. As George III’s reign developed the relationship between Church and State was maintained but it was also subjected to challenges. Two major issues threatened to unbalance the equilibrium: the American Revolution and the slave trade.
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