Anne of Great Britain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search
Anne Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
British Royalty
House of Stuart

James VI/I
Children include
   Henry, Prince of Wales
   Elizabeth Stuart
   Charles I
   Robert Stuart, Duke of Kintyre
Charles I
   Charles II
   James VII/II
   Mary, Princess Royal
   Henrietta Anne Stuart
Charles II
James VII/II
   Mary II
   James Francis Edward Stuart
Charles Edward Stuart
Henry Benedict Stuart
Mary II
William III
William, Duke of Gloucester

Anne ( 6 February 16651 August 1714 ) became Queen of England, Queen of Scotland and Queen of 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 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 as a child from an eye infection; for medical treatment, she was sent to France. She lived with her grandmother, Queen Henrietta Maria, and on the latter's death with her aunt, Henrietta Anne, Duchesse d'Orléans. 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 strict Protestants. In 1678 Anne accompanied Mary of Modena to Holland, and in 1679 joined her parents abroad and afterwards in Scotland. On July 28, 1683, Anne married the Protestant Prince George of Denmark, brother of the Danish King Christian V, an unpopular union because of the French proclivities of the bridegroom's country, but one of great domestic happiness, the prince and princess being comfortable in temper and both preferring retirement and quiet to life in the great world. Sarah Churchill became Anne's lady of the bedchamber, and, by the latter's desire to mark their mutual intimacy and affection, all deference due to her rank was abandoned and the two ladies called each other Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman.

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 (to the exclusion of Mary) on the condition of her embracing Roman Catholicism. The project was rendered futile by Anne's pronounced attachment to the Church of England, and beyond sending her Catholic books and papers James appears to have made no attempt to coerce his daughter into a change of faith, [See also Hist. MSS. Comm., MSS. of Duke of Rutland at Belvoir, ii. 109.] and to have treated her with kindness.

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) on July 20, 1688, for a Roman Catholic dynasty became apparent. Anne was not present on the occasion, having gone to Bath, and this gave rise to a belief that the child was spurious; but it is most probable that James's desire to exclude all Protestants from affairs of state was the real cause. "I shall never now be satisfied," Anne wrote to Mary, "whether the child be true or false. It may be it is our brother, but God only knows ... one cannot help having a thousand fears and melancholy thoughts, but whatever changes may happen you shall ever find me firm to my religion and faithfully yours." [Dalrymple's Memoirs, ii. 175.] In later years, however, she had no doubt that the Old Pretender was her brother.

Princess Anne's sister and brother-in-law, Mary and William, subsequently invaded England to dethrone the unpopular and despotic James II. James attempted to flee the realm on December 11, 1688, succeeding twelve days later.

During the events immediately preceding the Revolution Anne kept in seclusion. Her ultimate conduct was probably influenced by the Churchills; and though forbidden by James, to pay Mary a projected visit in the spring of 1688, she corresponded with her, and was no doubt aware of William's plans. Her position was now a very critical and painful one. She refused to show any sympathy with the king after William had landed in November, and wrote, with the advice of the Churchills, to the prince, declaring her approval of his action. Churchill abandoned the king on the 24th, Prince George on the 25th, and when James returned to London on the 26th he found that Anne and her lady-in-waiting had during the previous night followed their husbands' examples. Escaping from Whitehall by a back staircase they put themselves under the care of the bishop of London, spent one night in his house, and subsequently arrived on the 1st of December at Nottingham, where the princess first made herself known and appointed a council. Thence she passed through Leicester, Coventry and Warwick, finally entering Oxford, where she met Prince George, in triumph, escorted by a large company. Like Mary, she was reproached for showing no concern at the news of the king's flight, but her justification was that "she never loved to do anything that looked like an affected constraint." She returned to London on December 19, when she was at once visited by William.

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, 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 Syon 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. At the same time William kept her in the background and refrained from appointing her regent during his absence. In 1695, William sought to win Princess Anne's favour by restoring Marlborough to all of his offices. In return Anne gave her support to William's government, though about this time, in 1696—according to James, in consequence of the near prospect of the throne—she wrote to her father asking for his leave to wear the crown at William's death, and promising its restoration at a convenient opportunity. [Macpherson i. 257; Clarke's James II., ii. 559. See also Shrewsbury's anonymous correbpondent in Hist. MSS. Comm. Ser.; MSS. Duke of Buccleugh at Montagu House, ii. 169.] The unfounded rumour that William contemplated settling the succession after his death on James's son, provided he were educated a Protestant in England, may possibly have alarmed her. [Macaulay iv. 799 note]

Princess Anne with her son William, Duke of Gloucester.
Princess Anne with her son William, Duke of Gloucester.

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, the 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.

Henceforth Anne signs herself in her letters to Lady Marlborough as "your poor unfortunate" as well as "faithful Morley." In default of her own issue, Anne's personal choice would probably have inclined at this time to her father or to a member of his family, which was then at St Germains. 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

Monarchical Styles of
Queen Anne of Great Britain
Reference style: Her Majesty
Spoken style: Your Majesty
Alternative style: Ma'am

William III died March 8, 1702, leaving the Crown to Anne (April 23). 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. Therefore, England supported the rival claims of Archduke Charles, the Austrian cousin of the previous Spanish King.

The War of the Spanish Succession (known in North America as Queen Anne's War, the second of the French and Indian Wars) 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

Half-Crown coin of Anne, 1708. The inscription reads ANNA DEI GRATIA (Anne by the Grace of God)
Half-Crown coin of Anne, 1708. The inscription reads ANNA DEI GRATIA (Anne by the Grace of God)

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 by Scotland; 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

Queen Anne
Queen Anne

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 (as later events proved) 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.

The dispute was resolved by outside events: the elder brother of Archduke Charles (whom the Whigs supported) conveniently died in 1711 and Archduke Charles then inherited Austria, Hungary and the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. To also give him the Spanish throne to which he had aspired was no longer in Great Britain's interests, as he would become too powerful. But the proposed Treaty of Utrecht submitted to Parliament for ratification did not go as far as the Whigs wanted to curb Bourbon ambitions. 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.

Under the terms of the ratified treaty, 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. Thus ended Great Britain's involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession (as well as Queen Anne's War).


Anne died of suppressed gout, ending in erysipelas, which produced an abscess and fever, at approximately 7 o'clock 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 Anne's half-brother 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. Anne's half-brother James 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.

Anne had a fondness for brandy, which sometimes led to her being known as "Brandy Nan."

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).


Name Birth Death Notes
Daughter May 12, 1684 May 12, 1684  
Mary 2 June 1685 8 February 1687  
Anne Sophia 12 May 1686 2 February 1687  
Child January 1687 January 1687  
William, Duke of Gloucester 24 July 1689 30 July 1700  
Mary 14 October 1690 14 October 1690  
George 17 April 1692 17 April 1692  

See also

This audio file was created from the revision dated 2005-05-03, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (audio help)


Preceded by:
William III/II
Queen of England
8 March 17021 May 1707
Queen of Great Britain
1 May 17071 August 1714
Followed by:
George I
Queen of Scotland
8 March 17021 May 1707
Queen of Ireland
8 March 17021 August 1714
Preceded by:
Prince George of Denmark
Lord High Admiral
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Pembroke
Personal tools