Anne of Great Britain

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Queen of Great Britain and Ireland

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Anne (6 February 16651 August1714) became Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, when England and Scotland combined into a single Kingdom, Anne became the first Sovereign of Great Britain. She continued to reign until her death. Anne was the last British monarch of the House of Stuart; she was succeeded by a distant cousin, George I, of the House of Hanover.

Anne's life was marked by many crises relating to succession to the Crown. Her Roman Catholic father, James II, had been forcibly deposed in 1688; her sister and brother-in-law then became Queen and King as Mary II and William III. The failure of either Anne or of her sister to produce a child who could survive into adulthood precipitated a succession crisis, for, in the absence of a Protestant heir, the Roman Catholic James II could attempt to return to the Throne. It was for this reason that the Parliament of England passed legislation allowing the Crown to pass to the House of Guelph. When the Scottish Parliament refused to accept the choice of the English Parliament, various coercive tactics (such as crippling the Scottish economy by restricting trade) were used to ensure that Scotland would co-operate. The Act of Union 1707 (which united England and Scotland into Great Britain) was a product of subsequent negotiations.

Anne's reign was marked by the development of the two-party system. Anne personally preferred the Tory Party, but endured the Whigs. Her closest friend, and perhaps her most influential advisor, was Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, though there was a falling out later when the Duchess of Marlborough was banned from court during the War of the Spanish Succession. The Duchess of Marlborough's husband was John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, who led the English armies in the War of the Spanish Succession.


Early life

Anne was the second daughter of James, Duke of York, (afterwards James II) and his first wife, the Lady Anne Hyde (daughter of Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, an important politician). Her uncle was King Charles II, and her sister was the future Mary II. Anne and Mary were the only children of the Duke and Duchess of York to survive into adulthood. Anne suffered from an eye infection; for treatment, she was sent to France. She lived with her grandmother, Queen Henrietta Maria, and afterwards with her aunt, Henrietta Anne, Duchesse d'Orl顮s. Anne returned from France in 1670. In about 1673, Anne made the acquaintance of Sarah Jennings, who would become her close friend and one of her most influential advisors. Jennings later married John Churchill (the future Duke of Marlborough), who would later become one of Anne's most important generals.

In about 1672, Anne's father's conversion to Roman Catholicism became public. On the instructions of Charles II, however, Anne and her sister Mary were raised as Protestants. In 1683, Anne married the Protestant Prince George of Denmark, brother of the Danish King Christian V. Mary also married a Protestant Prince: William of Orange. When Charles II died in 1685 (converting to Roman Catholicism on his deathbed), Anne's father ascended the Throne as James II. James, desirous of a Roman Catholic successor, suggested to Princess Anne that he would try to make her his heir if she converted to Catholicism. Princess Anne, however, declared her firm adherence to Anglicanism; James II continued to send her Catholic books and essays, but made no serious attempt to effect a conversion.

James's attempt to grant religious toleration to Roman Catholics was not well-received by the English people. Public alarm increased when James's second wife, Mary of Modena, gave birth to a son (James Francis Edward) in 1688, for a Roman Catholic dynasty became apparent. Princess Anne's sister and brother-in-law, Mary and William, subsequently invaded England to dethrone the unpopular and despotic James II. Princess Anne did not endeavour to support her father; instead, she quickly defected to the invader's side. James attempted to flee the realm on 11 December 1688, succeeding twelve days later. In 1689, a Convention Parliament assembled and declared that James had abdicated the realm when he attempted to flee, and that the Throne was therefore vacant. The Crown was offered to, and accepted by, William and Mary, who ruled as joint monarchs. The Bill of Rights 1689 settled succession to the Throne; Princess Anne and her descendants were to be in the line of succession after William and Mary. They were to be followed by any descendants of William by a future marriage.

William and Mary

Soon after their accession, William and Mary exalted Lord Churchill by granting him the Earldom of Marlborough. The subsequent treatment of the Marlboroughs, however, was not as favourable. In 1692, correctly suspecting that Lord Marlborough was a Jacobite (that is, one who believed that James II was the legitimate monarch), Mary II dismissed him from all his offices. Lady Marlborough was subsequently removed from the Royal Household, leading Princess Anne to angrily leave her royal residence for Sion House, the Marlboroughs' home. Princess Anne was then stripped of her guard of honour, and the guards at the royal palaces were forbidden to salute her husband.

When Mary II died of smallpox in 1694, William III continued to reign alone. Seeking to improve his own popularity (which had always been much lower than that of his wife), he restored Princess Anne to her previous honours, allowing her to reside in St. James's Palace. In 1695, William sought to win Princess Anne's favour by restoring Lord Marlborough to all of his offices. In return, Princess Anne publicly supported William's government. Still, she did not win the complete trust of her brother-in-law, who refrained from making her his Regent during his military campaigns in Europe.

In the meantime, Prince George and Princess Anne suffered from a series of personal misadventures. By 1700, the future Queen had been pregnant at least eighteen times; thirteen times, she miscarried or gave birth to stillborn children. Of the remaining five children, four died before reaching the age of two years. Her only son to survive infancy, William, Duke of Gloucester, died at the age of eleven on 29 July 1700, precipitating a succession crisis. William and Mary did not have any children; thus, Princess Anne, heir apparent to the Throne, was the only individual remaining in the line of succession established by the Bill of Rights. If the line of succession were totally extinguished, then it would have become simple for the deposed King James to reclaim the Throne. To preclude a Roman Catholic from obtaining the Crown, Parliament enacted the Act of Settlement 1701, which provided that, failing the issue of Princess Anne and of William III by any future marriage, the Crown would go to Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her descendants, who descended from James I of England through Elizabeth of Bohemia. Several genealogically senior claimants were disregarded due to their Catholicism.

Personally, Princess Anne preferred to see the Crown go to her father or to a member of his family, which was then in France. Nevertheless, noticing the necessity of a Protestant successor, she acquiesced to the Act of Settlement. Still, she wore mourning dress when her father died later in 1701. She did not, however, endear herself to her half-brother, James II's son and putative heir, James Francis Edward Stuart (the "Old Pretender").

Early reign

William III died in 1702, leaving the Crown to Anne. At about the same time, the War of the Spanish Succession began; at controversy was the right of Philip, grandson of the French King Louis XIV, to succeed to the Spanish Throne. Although Philip was named in the will of the previous King of Spain, Charles II, much of Europe opposed him, fearing that the French royal dynasty would become too powerful. The will included a condition that Philip should gave up his right to the throne of France, but Louis XIV had this condition overturned in case many of his heirs died. (This was not an unrealistic worry: most of family was killed by smallpox shortly before his death, leaving the five-year-old Louis XV on the throne.) England had also been angered by Louis XIV's proclamation of James Stuart, the Old Pretender, as "James III of England" following the death of James II.

The War of the Spanish Succession (known in North America as Queen Anne's War) would continue until the last years of Anne's reign, and would dominate both foreign and domestic policy. Soon after her accession, Anne appointed her husband Lord High Admiral, giving him control of the Royal Navy. Anne gave control of the army to Lord Marlborough, whom she appointed Captain-General. Marlborough also received numerous honours from the Queen; he was created a Knight of the Garter and was elevated to the ducal rank. The Duchess of Marlborough was appointed to the post of Mistress of the Robes, the highest office a lady could attain.

Anne's first ministry was primarily Tory; at its head was Sidney Godolphin, 1st Baron Godolphin. The Whigs—who were, unlike the Tories, vigorous supporters of the War of the Spanish Succession—became much more influential after the Duke of Marlborough won a great victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. The Whigs quickly rose to power; soon, due to Marlborough's influence, almost all the Tories were removed from the ministry. Lord Godolphin, although a Tory, allied himself with Marlborough to ensure his continuance in office. Although Lord Godolphin was the nominal head of the ministry, actual power was held by the Duke of Marlborough and by the two Secretaries of State (Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland and Robert Harley). One may observe that Lord Godolphin's son married the Duke of Marlborough's daughter, and that Lord Sunderland was the Duke of Marlborough's son-in-law. Several others benefitted from Marlborough's nepotism.

Reign in Great Britain

The next years of Anne's reign were marked by attempts to merge England and Scotland into one realm. When it had passed the Act of Settlement 1701, the English Parliament had neglected to consult with the Estates or Parliament of Scotland, who, furthermore, sought to preserve the Stuart dynasty. The Act of Security was passed; failing the issue of the Queen, it granted the Estates the power to choose the next Scottish monarch from amongst the Protestant descendants of the royal line of Scotland. The individual chosen by the Estates could not be the same person who came to the English Throne, unless various religious, economic and political conditions were met. Though it was originally not forthcoming, the Royal Assent was granted when the Scottish Parliament threatened to withdraw Scottish troops from the Duke of Marlborough's army in Europe and refused to impose taxes. The English Parliament—fearing that an independent Scotland would restore the Auld Alliance (with France)—responded with the Alien Act 1705, which provided that economic sanctions would be imposed and Scottish subjects would be declared aliens (putting their right to own property in England into jeopardy), unless Scotland either repealed the Act of Security or moved to unite with England. The Estates chose the latter option, and Commissioners were appointed to negotiate the terms of a union. Articles of Union were approved by the Commissioners on 22 July 1706, and were agreed to by the Scottish Parliament (though opposed by an overwhelming majority of the Scottish People) on 16 January 1707. Under the Act, England and Scotland became one realm called Great Britain on 1 May 1707.

The Duchess of Marlborough's relationship with Anne deteriorated during 1707. The Duchess had proved a termagant, and had been undermined by another of the Queen's friends Abigail Masham. Mrs Masham, a cousin of the Duchess of Marlborough, was also related to one of Anne's Whig ministers, Robert Harley. Through Masham, Harley exerted influence over the Queen. Learning of Harley's new-found power, Lord Godolphin and the Duke of Marlborough grew jealous, seeking his dismissal. Anne was compelled to accept Harley's resignation in 1708. A group of five Whigs—Lord Sunderland, Thomas Wharton, 1st Earl of Wharton, John Somers, 1st Baron Somers, Charles Montagu, 1st Baron Halifax and Robert Walpole—dominated politics, becoming known as the "Junta." Also, Harley continued to retain influence with the Queen as a private advisor.

Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark, died in October 1708. His leadership of the Admiralty was unpopular amongst the Whig leaders; as he lay on his deathbed, some Whigs were preparing to make a motion requesting his removal from the office of Lord High Admiral. Anne was forced to appeal to the Duke of Marlborough to ensure that the motion was not made. After her husband's death, however, Anne grew more distant from the overbearing Duchess of Marlborough, preferring the companionship of the much more respectful Abigail Masham. The Queen terminated their friendship in 1709.

Later years

The fall of the Whigs came about quickly as the expensive War of the Spanish Succession grew unpopular in England; Robert Harley was particularly skilful in using the issue to motivate the electorate. A public furor was aroused after Dr Henry Sacheverell, a Tory clergyman who attacked the Whig government for offering toleration to religious dissenters, was prosecuted for seditious libel. Even more humiliating was the failure of the Whigs to obtain the desired sentence; Dr Sacheverell was merely suspended from preaching for three years, and did not face imprisonment, as some Whigs had hoped. In the general election of 1710, a discontented populace returned a large Tory majority.

Marlborough was still too influential to be removed, but his relatives soon began to lose their offices. Lord Godolphin was removed on 7 August 1710; the new ministry was headed by Robert Harley and included Henry St John. The new Tory government began to seek peace in the War of the Spanish Succession, for an unmitigated victory for Austria (Great Britain's primary ally) would be just as damaging to British interests as a loss to France. The Tories were ready to compromise by giving Spain to the grandson of the French King, but the Whigs could not bear to see a Bourbon on the Spanish Throne. In the House of Commons, the Tory majority was unassailable, but the same was not true in the House of Lords. To block the peace plan, the Whigs made an alliance with Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and his Tory associates in the Lords. Seeing a need for decisive action, the Queen and her ministry dismissed the Duke of Marlborough, granting the command of British troops to James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde. To erase the Whig majority in the House of Lords, Anne created twelve new peers (one of whom was Abigail Masham's husband) on a single day. Such a mass creation of peers was unprecedented; indeed, Elizabeth I had granted fewer peerage dignities in almost fifty years than did Anne in a single day.

Great Britain's involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession (as well as Queen Anne's War) was brought to an end in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht. Philip, grandson of the French King Louis XIV, was allowed to remain on the Throne of Spain, and was permitted to retain Spain's New World colonies. The rest of the Spanish inheritance, however, was divided amongst various European princes; Great Britain obtained the Spanish territories of Gibraltar and Minorca. Various French colonies in North America were also ceded to Great Britain.


Anne died of suppressed gout, ending in erysipelas, which produced an abscess and fever, at approximately 7 Template:AM on 1 August 1714. Her body was so swollen that it had to be buried in Westminster Abbey in a vast almost-square coffin.

She died shortly after the Electress Sophia (8 June of the same year); the Electress's son, George I, Elector of Hanover, inherited the British Crown. Pursuant to the Act of Settlement 1701, about fifty Roman Catholics with genealogically senior claims were disregarded. Amongst those who were omitted were the son of James II (James Francis Edward Stuart), the King of France (Louis XV), two future Kings of Spain and a future Holy Roman Emperor. Though such powerful figures were ignored, the Elector of Hanover's accession was relatively stable. The Jacobite claimant, James Stuart, led rebellions in 1715 and 1719, but was defeated both times.


The reign of Anne was marked by an increase in the influence of ministers and a decrease in the influence of the Crown. In 1708, Anne became the last British Sovereign to withhold the Royal Assent from a bill (in this case, a Scots militia bill). Preocuppied with her health (she suffered from porphyria), Anne allowed her ministers—most notably Robert Harley—as well as her favourite companions—the Duchess of Marlborough and Lady Masham—to dominate politics. (The close relationship between Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough, along with accounts that the Queen was a lesbian, has led many people to believe that their relationship was sexual in nature, but no conclusive proof has been forthcoming.) The shift of power from the Crown to the ministry became even more apparent during the reign of George I, whose chief advisor, Sir Robert Walpole, is often described as the "first Prime Minister."

The age of Anne was also one of artistic, literary and scientific advancement. In architecture, Sir John Vanbrugh constructed elegant edifices such as Blenheim Palace (the home of the Marlboroughs) and Castle Howard. Writers such as Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift flourished during Anne's reign. Sir Isaac Newton lived during Anne's reign, although he had reached his most important discoveries under William and Mary.

Style and arms

The official style of Anne before 1707 was "Anne, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc." (The claim to France was only nominal, and had been asserted by every English King since Edward III, regardless of the amount of French territory actually controlled.) After the Union, her style was "Anne, by the Grace of God, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc."

Anne's arms before the Union were: Quarterly, I and IV Grandquarterly, Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or (for France) and Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (for England); II Or a lion rampant within a tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland); III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland). After the Union, the arms of England and Scotland, which had previously been in different quarters, were "impaled," or placed side-by-side, in the same quarter to emphasise that the two countries had become one Kingdom. The new arms were: Quarterly, I and IV Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (for England) impaling Or a lion rampant within a tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland); II Azure three fleurs-de-lys Or (for France); III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland).


Mary2 June 16858 February 1687 
Anne Sophia12 May 16862 February 1687 
William, Duke of Gloucester24 July 168930 July 1700 
Mary14 October 169014 October 1690 
George17 April 169217 April 1692 

See also

List of things named after Queen Anne

Preceded by:
William III/II
Queen of England
Queen of Great Britain
Followed by:
George I
Queen of Scotland
Queen of Ireland

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