Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.
Most of us heard this little nursery rhyme when we were kids. Of course, Georgie Porgie, nowadays, would undoubtedly be sued in a class-action for sexual harassment by the ACLU.
But who was the real "Georgie Porgie"? There are two possible historical candidates.
[caption id="attachment_50628" align="alignright" width="162" caption="George Villiers"][/caption]
One was George Villiers (1592-1628), the handsome son of an insignificant nobleman who soon climbed his way into great favor with King James I. Rumor has it that he and the king were more than just good friends. This would certainly explain why, within two years, Villiers was made an Earl and then a Marquess. Five years later, at just 31 years old, George became the first Duke of Buckingham.
The nursery rhyme is said to ridicule both King James I and George Villiers over their open romantic interest in each other. In fact, the king even proclaimed openly that "You may be sure that I love the Duke of Buckingham more than I love anyone else and I wish not to have that thought to be a defect."
It is now believed by historians studying court diaries and correspondence that the pair were, indeed, lovers. But George Villiers liked to go both ways and also had many affairs with many young ladies of the court, as well as the wives and daughters of powerful Englishmen. This caused resentment all around, but his relationship with the king gave him a certain amount of immunity. It has also been said that he forced his affections on other unwilling ladies of privileged position ("Georgie Porgie... kissed the girls and made them cry") while managing to avoid confrontation or retaliation ("When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away").
The other candidate for "Georgie Porgie" is the Prince Regent (later King) George IV (1762-1830), the hapless son (said to have "half a brain") of mad King George III.
[caption id="attachment_50629" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="King George IV"][/caption]
Immensely fat ("Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie"), his corset wearing was a constant source of ridicule and satirical cartoons. By 1797, his weight had reached 245 pounds, and by 1824, his corsets were being made for a waist of fifty inches. This George was unequivocally straight, but he took advantage of his position much like George Villiers had done. He had a roving eye for the ladies; attractive female visitors who came to parties he gave were often advised not to be left alone with him. His checkered love life included several mistresses, illegitimate children, and even bigamy.
George IV had an "official wife," Caroline of Brunswick, who he detested so much he even banned her from his coronation, and an "unofficial" wife, Maria Anne Fitzherbert. She was both a Catholic and a commoner, so their marriage was not formally recognized and remained a secret. He managed to make both women miserable, as well as many other women he forced himself on ("Kissed the girls and made them cry").
In addition to his crude, uncouth love life, George loved watching prizefighting (bare-knuckle boxing), which at the time was illegal. His own physical and emotional cowardice was legendary. This is illustrated by a story of the most infamous prizefight of the day, where one contestant died from his injuries.
George was known to have been present at the fight, but when the man died, he ran away, terrified of being implicated in the fallout, and attempted to conceal his presence at the match. ("When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away").