Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George II, occupied a crucial position in the public life of early 18th-century Britain. She was seen to exert considerable influence on the politics of the court and, as mother to the Hanoverian dynasty's next generation, she became an important emblem for the nation's political well-being. This paper examines how such emblematic significance was challenged and qualified when Caroline's body could no longer be portrayed as healthy and life giving. Using private memoirs and correspondence from the time of her death in 1737, the paper explores the metaphorical potential of the queen's strangulated hernia, as well as the particular problems it posed for the public image of her dynasty. Through these investigations, the paper will comment upon the haphazard nature of public discussion in the early 18th century, and reveal the complex relationship between political speculation and medical diagnosis.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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