Churchill, Arabella (1648–1714)

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Churchill, Arabella (1648–1714)

English mistress of King James II of England. Born in 1648; died in 1714; eldest daughter of Sir Winston Churchill of Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, and Elizabeth Drake; sister of John Churchill, duke of Marlborough (1650–1722); had long affair with James II, king of England (r. 1685–1688, deposed); children: (with James II) five, including Henrietta FitzJames (b. 1667); James Fitzjames, duke of Berwick-upon-Tweed (1670–1734); Arabella (Ignatia) FitzJames (b. 1674) who became a nun at Pontoise; and Henry Fitzjames, duke of Albemarle (d. 1702).

Born in 1648, Arabella Churchill was the daughter of Elizabeth Drake and Winston Churchill, a royalist and Member of Parliament. She first met James II, king of England, when she fell off a horse while out hunting in 1669. What the married James saw in her was the subject of much conjecture; one contemporary described her as "a tall creature, pale faced and nothing but skin and bone." Over the next ten years, their affair produced five children. Their first son James FitzJames, became the duke of Berwick and distinguished himself as a French military leader. Arabella used her influence to advance the interests of her brother John Churchill, 1st duke of Marlborough, who, as a general, would win some of the most renowned battles in European history.

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Churchill, Arabella (1648–1714)

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