It’s one of those terms you hear to describe everything from art and architecture to politics and military affairs.

But what exactly is the Georgian era?

In the simplest terms, the Georgian era is the period from 1714 to 1830, when four King Georges ruled England, according to Cambridge University history professor Boyd Hilton.

England experienced massive economic expansion and grew to become the world leader in finance and industrial manufacturing, he said. But above all, England’s place as the world’s trading market rose to prominence.

“Whether it was slaves, sugar, coffee or cotton, England led the world in trade,” he said. “The London docks became the warehouse for the world.”

But the Georgian period was more than pounds and profits. English politicians, philosophers and statesmen helped the Enlightenment proliferate around the world.

“There was a rejection of the medieval form and a return to the classical,” Hilton said.

That also led to a flourishing of the arts and architecture. Many of London’s most notable buildings stem from this era.

Many consider the Georgian era to be the height of British power in the world. The military, especially the Royal Navy, used new technologies to secure the British Isles and expand the empire.

“Very strong naval development allowed us to feel safe from invasion,” Hilton said.

From an American standpoint, it was also the era that saw 13 colonies publish the Declaration of Independence, setting forth democratic principles that still reverberate around the world, and winning their freedom through war.

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