Queen Anne
   

   

Anne (February 6, 1665–August 1, 1714) became Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland on March 8, 1702.

On May 1, 1707, when England and Scotland combined into a single United Kingdom, Anne became the first sovereign of Great Britain. She continued to reign until her death in 1714. 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 cooperate. 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.

William III died March 8, 1702, leaving the Crown to Anne on 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, 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 honors from the Queen; he was created a Knight of the Garter and was elevated to the rank of Duke. 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.

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 August 7, 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, Queen Anne 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, on August 1, 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 (June 8 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.


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