Regency, in British history, the period of the last nine years (1811-20) of the reign of George III, when the king's insanity had rendered him unfit to rule and the government was vested in the prince of Wales (later George IV) as regent. The period witnessed the end (1815) of the Napoleonic Wars and growing social unrest, which was met by the Tory government of the time with harsh repression. Socially, the period took a distinctive coloration from the gay and dissolute regent and his companions. It was the time of a notable flowering in arts, letters, and architecture. In literature, the period marks the height of the romantic movement in the work of such poets as Lord Byron, John Keats, and Percy Bysshe Shelley and in the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Regency architecture culminated in the elegant simplicity of the Regency style. Regency furniture shows a similar refinement of design and taste and a strong influence of the styles of the French Directoire.

See A. Bryant, The Age of Elegance (1950); J. B. Priestley, The Prince of Pleasure and His Regency (1969).

Regency may have several meanings:

  • A regency may be a period of time when a regent reigns, and in a non-ceremonial monarchy holds power, in the name of the current monarch, or in the name of the Crown itself, if the throne is vacant. Specific political eras derived from this usage (and artistic style periods named after these) include:
    • The British Regency in the United Kingdom, from 1811 to 1820
    • In French history, the Régence is the period from 1715 to 1723. It is also applied to the de facto independent Barbary coast regime (nominally in the Ottoman empire) and subsequent French protectorate over Tunisia
  • The term, or its equivalent in another language, is also used for certain specific political regimes and institutions:
    • Regentschap (in Dutch) for a colonial autochthonous (usually Malay, often Islamic) polity (e.g. sultanate) involved in indirect rule in the (Dutch) East Indies
    • Albany Regency refers to the dominant political faction in New York state, U.S., c.1820-1850
  • A regency may also be a geographical area, usually a small city or a subdistrict of a province, that is or has been governed by a regent.
    • For example, the Indonesian term kabupaten, for a sub-provincial political district, is usually translated into English as "regency" (compare above for the colonial era).

Regency as an individual name

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