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Regency Regent

king, time, office, person and english

REGENT, REGENCY. These words, like rex, contain the same ele ment as repo, "to rule," regens, " ruling ;" and denote the person who exercises the power of a king without being king, and the office of such a person, or the period of time during which he possesses the power. Wherever there has been an hereditary kingly office, it has been found necessary sometimes to appoint a regent. The cases are chiefly those of (1) the crown devolving on a minor too young to execute any of the duties belonging to it ; (2) mental incapacity of the person in whom the kingly office is vested ; (3) temporary illness, where there is a prospect of the long continu ance of the disease, and of incapacity in consequence; (4) absence from the realm. But in the first case the regent has usually been called in England by the name of Protector : the latest in stance was the minority of Edward VI., when his uncle, the Duke of Somer set, was the Protector.

In the earlier periods of English his tory we have several instances of pro tectors during minorites, and some of regencies during the temporary absence of the king. The occasional absences of George I. and George II. on visits to their continental dominions rendered the appointment of regents a matter of con venience, if not of necessity. Some times the rower was put, so to speak, in commission, being held by several per sons jointly ; but Queen Caroline some times discharged the functions of regent during the absence of George 1L [LORDS JUSTICES.] This part of the English constitution was, however, so imperfectly defined, that when George III. was incapacitated for

discharging the functions of royalty by becoming insane, a question arose, on which the chief constitutional and politi cal authorities of the time were divided in their judgment. The question was this—whether the heir apparent, being of full age, and the king's eldest son, did not become of right regent. The Whig party of the time, led by Mr. Fox, con tended that he did. On the other side, it was maintained that it lay with par liament to nominate the person who should be regent. No regent was at that time appointed, because the king re covered. When the king was a second time incapacitated, all parties agreed in conferring the title and office of regent on the Prince of Wales, then heir apparent. But it was done by parliament, who laid certain restrictions upon him during the first year; but in the event (which event did happen) of the continued incapacity of the king, he was to enter into the full possession of all the powers of king, as if the king were dead ; using, however, only the name of regent, not king.

The time when the Prince of Wales held the office of regent is the period of English history which will be meant hereafter by the expression " the re gency," just as " the regency " in refer ence to French history denotes the time of the minority of Louis the Fifteenth, when the Duke of Orleans was regent. It was during the English regency that the power of Napoleon was broken, and peace was restored to Europe.