views updated May 29 2018

Anne (1665–1714), queen of England, Scotland (Great Britain from 1707), and Ireland (1702–14). The conventional picture of Queen Anne as a weak-willed and ineffectual monarch has been subjected to substantial revision. Re-examination of her political role has revealed a much less insipid personality, a woman of considerable assertiveness who, despite chronic ill-health, was a shrewd political operator and determined to rule. Her adherence to her own principles and prejudices often thwarted her ministers' more self-interested ends; and though she sometimes found herself having to give way to larger political pressures, it was seldom without prolonged struggle.

Her early experiences played an important part in forming her for the role she later assumed. She was the younger daughter of James, duke of York and his first wife Anne Hyde. The doctrines of the Church of England in which she was educated provided an important political and emotional prop for the rest of her life. In 1683, aged 18, she was married to Prince George of Denmark, a distant cousin, and their relationship quickly blossomed into one of lasting devotion. She made no secret of her growing antipathy towards her father on account of his catholicism, and after his accession as king in 1685 her small household and social circle stood out as a rallying point for protestant courtiers. Anne deserted her father at the revolution in 1688 and joined William of Orange and his wife, her elder sister Mary. Before long, however, relations with them became strained with bitterness and jealousy, especially after Anne succeeded where they had failed and produced a healthy son, the duke of Gloucester, in 1689. Anne's hatred of the king deepened as William persistently excluded Prince George from any share in government. Once more, therefore, she was forced during most of the 1690s to operate in a delicate adversarial situation in which she had her position to defend. But the experience sharpened her skills of political infighting and prepared her for the day-to-day dealings she would have with her ministers. Her particular intimates were the Marlboroughs and Lord Godolphin. In Sarah Marlborough, especially, she found the feminine comfort and support she needed as she endured one failed pregnancy after another. These gradually took their physical toll. By 1700, when her seventeenth and last pregnancy ended in miscarriage, she was, at 35, practically an invalid. That same year her one surviving child, William of Gloucester, succumbed to illness and died.

Anne became queen on William III's death in March 1702. She had patiently waited for what she had said would be her ‘sunshine day’. In the early years of her reign, while her health allowed, she gave fresh impetus to court life and ceremonial in a conscious effort to elevate her regal image. Marlborough's martial triumphs on the continent were duly embodied in this process, and wherever she travelled she was received with acclamation. She stoutly opposed politically inspired suggestions that her Hanoverian heir be invited to reside in England in the firm belief that a rival court would diminish her own authority and gloire. Away from royal panoply, Anne industriously fulfilled the position she occupied at the centre of government. She presided once or twice weekly at cabinet meetings, conferred with individual ministers, regularly attended debates in the Lords, and gave active encouragement to major national ventures, such as the war with France, the union with Scotland (1707), and after 1710 the drive for peace.

Until 1710 her administrations were headed by the ‘duumvirs’, her old friends Godolphin, at the treasury, and Marlborough, in command of the army and directing the campaigns in the Spanish Succession war. Neither of them were party men in the conventional sense, but acted primarily as ‘political managers’ holding together ministries containing both Whigs and Tories. Like her predecessor, she was anxious to preserve her independence of manœuvre and to avoid becoming the captive of ‘party’. Indeed, much of her discernible political activity took the form of long and stressful feuds with senior politicians to avoid appointing party nominees. In 1702 the high Tory grandees, mindful of Anne's affinity with Toryism, expected the lion's share of governmental appointments, but she resisted their demands for a purge of Whigs. After 1705 Godolphin's efforts to persuade her to placate the powerful and well-organized Junto Whig faction, whom she knew would dominate her entirely, placed a growing strain on their association, but she reluctantly yielded to a series of Whig appointments. Sarah Marlborough's less tactful bullying on behalf of the Junto was a major source of irritation to the queen, but though the duchess frequently behaved abominably, Anne could ill afford to dismiss her, fearing that she would use her influence with Marlborough and Godolphin to induce them to resign.

The queen's third ‘manager’, Robert Harley, gradually gained her confidence and friendship with his notion of a ‘moderate’ ministry of both parties, a venture in which he was assisted by his cousin Abigail Masham, who had replaced Sarah as Anne's closest friend and confidante. However, in 1708 Harley's attempt to implement this plan with the queen's co-operation backfired when the ‘duumvirs’ forced Anne to dismiss him from his post of secretary of state. The Whig election victory later that year increased Junto demands for places in the administration, but it was only during the queen's desolation following the death of Prince George in October that Godolphin was able to override her wishes and impose more Junto appointees.

By 1710 Anne was willing to sacrifice Godolphin for Harley (later Lord Oxford), though the Tories' huge electoral success in the summer ruled out her favoured objective of ‘moderation’ and forced her to accept an exclusively Tory government under Harley's lead. Long accustomed to Godolphin's tact, Anne disliked Oxford's high-handedness and equivocation, and by August 1713 had begun to turn against him. As her health became more precarious in 1714, Lord Bolingbroke seemed increasingly likely to succeed Oxford, by now ill and demoralized, although the queen remained non-committal. Two days after dismissing Oxford on 27 July, Anne fell mortally ill, but her acceptance of the politically neutral duke of Shrewsbury as next lord treasurer on the 30th was crucial in ensuring that after her death on 1 August the transition to the Hanoverian dynasty occurred without the political turmoil which many had feared.

Andrew Hanham


Bucholz, R. O. , The Augustan Court (Stanford, Calif., 1993);
Gregg, E. , Queen Anne (1980).


views updated Jun 08 2018


Anne (1665-1714) was queen of England from 1702 to 1714 and, after 1707, of Great Britain. During her reign England won a long war with France and persuaded Scotland to join in a new united kingdom of Great Britain. She was the last Stuart ruler.

On Feb. 6, 1665, Anne was born in London, the second daughter of James, Duke of York. Her father was a Roman Catholic, but her mother, Anne Hyde, was a Protestant, and Anne was brought up and remained a staunch Church of England Protestant. In 1677 her sister, Mary, to whom she was devoted, married William of Orange and moved to his country, Holland. Six years later Anne married Prince George of Denmark and established her own court in London. There the leading figure was Sarah Churchill, to whom Anne was greatly attached. Sarah was the wife of John Churchill, later 1st Duke of Marlborough, and she and her husband's family and friends dominated Anne's court.

Anne's father became king as James II in 1685. His reign was a difficult period for Anne, the more so when her Italian Catholic stepmother produced a male child who blocked the two Protestant princesses from the throne. Public dissatisfaction with James for his Catholicism and his excessive emphasis on royal power was already widespread. The birth of a Catholic heir crystallized discontent into revolution, and James was deposed in 1688. Anne's sister and her husband took the English throne as King William III and Queen Mary II.

With her sister back in England and Sarah Churchill and her friends close by, Anne was happier for a while. Then came Mary's death in 1694 and 4 years later a worse loss. Brought to childbed 15 times, Anne lost every child but one, the Duke of Gloucester, and in 1698 he died at the age of 9. This left no Protestant English heir to the throne and forced Parliament to provide for a German successor should both William and Anne die without surviving children, and this situation did, in fact, occur.

On March 8, 1702, Anne succeeded to the English throne. She was a semi-invalid, content—aside from concern for the Church of England and the appointment of individuals whom she favored—to leave major policy to the Duke of Marlborough and his friend Sidney Godolphin. They in turn entrusted the management of Parliament to Robert Harley, leader of the Tories. The War of the Spanish Succession against Louis XIV of France was the great issue, and on this Anne loyally backed Marlborough and Godolphin. She rejoiced with them in the victory of Blenheim (1704) and, to a lesser degree, in the union with Scotland (1707).

When the Tories proved less enthusiastic about the war than the Whigs, the government was forced to rely on the Whig party, with its support among Nonconformists and commercial interests. Relations became strained between the Queen and Lady Marlborough, and into the widening gap moved Harley and Abigail Hill, one of the Queen's dressers. Harley strengthened Anne's resolution "not to become the prisoner of a party" (meaning the Whigs). He suggested a moderate government headed by himself. In 1708, despite the Queen's support, he was unable to effect such a change and was forced out of the government.

Two years later Anne recalled Harley to power, and he and his rival, Viscount Bolingbroke, presided over the last 4 years of Anne's reign and concluded the Peace of Utrecht (1713) with France. Meanwhile Anne's health had deteriorated. Her ideal of "moderation above party" vanished in the rivalry between Harley, who was growing lazy and sodden, and the brilliant Bolingbroke, who appealed to the Tory extremists. Perhaps Anne toyed with the idea of having her half-brother succeed her as "James III." Certainly Bolingbroke did, with the hope of becoming the power behind another Stuart. Bolingbroke even got Anne to dismiss Harley, but she could not be persuaded to make Bolingbroke lord treasurer. A few days later, on Aug. 1, 1714, after a lingering illness, the last of the Stuarts died—to be succeeded by the first of the Hanoverian line, George I.

Further Reading

A recent satisfactory biography of Anne is David Green, Queen Anne (1970). Many of Anne's letters to Sarah Churchill are printed in the latter's An Account of the Conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough (1742 and later editions). From his reading of this work, Thomas B. Macaulay derived the prejudice against the Marlboroughs and the lack of sympathy for Anne that mark his History of England from the Accession of James II (2d ed., 5 vols., 1849-1861). His account is nonetheless worth reading. His grandnephew George M. Trevelyan is kinder to Anne in England under Queen Anne (3 vols., 1930-1934), while Geoffrey S. Holmes credits her with still more influence and character in British Politics in the Age of Anne (1967). See also G.N. Clark, The Later Stuarts, 1660-1714 (1934; 2d ed. 1955).

Additional Sources

Gregg, Edward., Queen Anne, London; Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980. □


views updated May 21 2018

Anne (1665–1714) Queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1702–14). The second daughter of James II, Anne succeeded William III (of Orange) as the last Stuart sovereign and, after the Act of Union (1707), the first monarch of the United Kingdom of England and Scotland. Brought up a Protestant, she married Prince George of Denmark (1683). Despite 18 pregnancies, no child survived her. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14) dominated her reign, and is often called Queen Anne's War. Anne was the last English monarch to exercise the royal veto over legislation (1707), but the rise of parliamentary government was inexorable. The military success of the Duke of Marlborough increased the influence that his wife, Sarah Churchill, had over domestic policy. Tories, sceptical of military involvement, were removed from high office. Tory victory in the elections of 1710 led to the dismissal of the Marlboroughs, and Abigail Masham and Robert Harley emerged as the Queen's new favourites. The Jacobite cause was crushed when Anne was succeeded by George I. The most lasting aspect of her reign was the strength of contemporary arts and culture.

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