Anne (6 February 1665 – 1 August 1714) became Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state, the United Kingdom of Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britainand Ireland until her death.
Portrait by Michael Dahl, 1705
Anne was born in the reign of her uncle Charles II, who had no legitimate children. Her father, James, was first in line to the throne. His Catholicism was unpopular in England and on Charles's instructions Anne was raised as a Protestant. Three years after he succeeded Charles, James was deposed in the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. Anne's Protestant brother-in-law and cousin William III became joint monarch with his wife, Anne's elder sister Mary II. Although the sisters had been close, disagreements over Anne's finances, status and choice of acquaintances arose shortly after Mary's accession and they became estranged. William and Mary had no children. After Mary's death in 1694, William continued as sole monarch until he was succeeded by Anne upon his death in 1702.
As queen, Anne favoured moderate Tory politicians, who were more likely to share her Anglican religious views than their opponents, the Whigs. The Whigs grew more powerful during the course of the War of the Spanish Succession, until in 1710 Anne dismissed many of them from office. Her close friendship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, turned sour as the result of political differences.
Anne was plagued by ill-health throughout her life. From her 30s onwards, she grew increasingly lame and obese. Despite seventeen pregnancies by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, she died without any surviving children and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, she was succeeded by her second cousin George I of the House of Hanover, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, daughter of James VI and I.
Anne (centre) and her sister Mary (left) with their parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, painted by Sir Peter Lely and Benedetto Gennari II
Anne was born at 11:39 p.m. on 6 February 1665 at St James's Palace, London, the fourth child and second daughter of James, Duke of York (afterwards James II and VII), and his first wife, Anne Hyde. Her father was the younger brother of King Charles II, who ruled the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, and her mother was the daughter of Lord Chancellor Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. At her Anglican baptism in the Chapel Royal at St James's, her older sister, Mary, was one of her godparents, along with the Duchess of Monmouth and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Gilbert Sheldon. The Duke and Duchess of York had eight children, but Anne and Mary were the only ones to survive into adulthood.
As a child, Anne suffered from an eye condition, which manifested as excessive watering known as "defluxion". For medical treatment, she was sent to France, where she lived with her paternal grandmother, Queen Henrietta Maria, at the Château de Colombes near Paris. Following her grandmother's death in 1669, Anne lived with an aunt, Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orléans. On the sudden death of her aunt in 1670, Anne returned to England. Her mother died the following year.
As was traditional in the royal family, Anne and her sister were brought up separated from their father in their own establishment at Richmond, London. On the instructions of Charles II, they were raised as Protestants. Placed in the care of Colonel Edward and Lady Frances Villiers, their education was focused on the teachings of the Anglican church. Henry Compton, Bishop of London, was appointed as Anne's preceptor.
Around 1671, Anne first made the acquaintance of Sarah Jennings, who later became her close friend and one of her most influential advisors. Jennings married John Churchill (the future Duke of Marlborough) in about 1678. His sister, Arabella Churchill, was the Duke of York's mistress, and he was to be Anne's most important general.
In 1673, the Duke of York's conversion to Roman Catholicism became public, and he married a Catholic princess, Mary of Modena, who was only six and a half years older than Anne. Charles II had no legitimate children, and so the Duke of York was next in the line of succession, followed by his two surviving daughters from his first marriage, Mary and Anne. Over the next ten years, the new Duchess of York had ten children, but all were either stillborn or died in infancy, leaving Mary and Anne second and third in the line of succession after their father. There is every indication that, throughout Anne's early life, she and her stepmother got on well together, and the Duke of York was a conscientious and loving father.
On 4 November 1677, Anne's elder sister, Mary, married their Dutch cousin, William of Orange, at St James's Palace, but Anne could not attend the wedding because she was confined to her room with smallpox. By the time she recovered, Mary had already left for her new life in the Netherlands. Lady Frances Villiers contracted the disease, and died. Anne's aunt Lady Henrietta Hyde (the wife of Laurence Hyde) was appointed as her new governess. A year later, Anne and her stepmother visited Mary in Holland for two weeks.
Anne's father and stepmother retired to Brussels in March 1679 in the wake of anti-Catholic hysteria fed by the Popish Plot, and Anne visited them from the end of August. In October, they returned to Britain, the Duke and Duchess to Scotland and Anne to England. She joined her father and stepmother at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh from July 1681 until May 1682. It was her last journey outside England.
Anne's second cousin George of Hanover (her eventual successor) visited London for three months from December 1680, sparking rumours of a potential marriage between them. Historian Edward Gregg dismissed the rumours as ungrounded, as her father was essentially exiled from court, and the Hanoverians planned to marry George to his first cousin Sophia Dorothea of Celle as part of a scheme to unite the Hanoverian inheritance. Other rumours claimed she was courted by Lord Mulgrave (later made Duke of Buckingham), although he denied it. Nevertheless, as a result of the gossip, he was temporarily dismissed from court.
With George of Hanover out of contention as a potential suitor for Anne, King Charles looked elsewhere for an eligible prince who would be welcomed as a groom by his Protestant subjects but also acceptable to his Catholic ally, Louis XIV of France. The Danes were Protestant allies of the French, and Louis XIV was keen on an Anglo-Danish alliance to contain the power of the Dutch. A marriage treaty between Anne and Prince George of Denmark, younger brother of King Christian V, was negotiated by Anne's uncle Laurence Hyde, who had been made Earl of Rochester, and the English Secretary of State for the Northern Department, Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland. Anne's father consented to the marriage eagerly because it diminished the influence of his other son-in-law, William of Orange, who was naturally unhappy at the match.
Bishop Compton officiated at the wedding of Anne and George of Denmark on 28 July 1683 in the Chapel Royal. Though it was an arranged marriage, they were faithful and devoted partners. They were given a set of buildings in the Palace of Whitehall known as the Cockpit as their London residence,and Sarah Churchill was appointed one of Anne's ladies of the bedchamber. Within months of the marriage, Anne was pregnant, but the baby was stillborn in May. Anne recovered at the spa town of Tunbridge Wells, and over the next two years, gave birth to two daughters in quick succession: Mary and Anne Sophia.
Accession of James II and VII
When Charles II died in 1685, Anne's father became king as James II in England and Ireland and James VII in Scotland. To the consternation of the English people, James began to give Catholics military and administrative offices, in contravention of the Test Acts that were designed to prevent such appointments. Anne shared the general concern, and continued to attend Anglican services. As her sister Mary lived in the Netherlands, Anne and her family were the only members of the royal family attending Protestant religious services in England. When her father tried to get Anne to baptise her youngest daughter into the Catholic faith, Anne burst into tears. "The Church of Rome is wicked and dangerous", she wrote to her sister, "their ceremonies – most of them – plain downright idolatry." Anne became estranged from her father and stepmother as James moved to weaken the Church of England's power.
In early 1687, within a matter of days, Anne miscarried, her husband caught smallpox, and their two young daughters died of the same infection. Lady Rachel Russell wrote that George and Anne had "taken [the deaths] very heavily ... Sometimes they wept, sometimes they mourned in words; then sat silent, hand in hand; he sick in bed, and she the carefullest nurse to him that can be imagined." Later that year, she suffered another stillbirth.
Mary of Modena and James Francis Edward, Anne's stepmother and half-brother
Public alarm at James's Catholicism increased when his wife, Mary of Modena, became pregnant for the first time since James's accession. In letters to her sister Mary, Anne raised suspicions that the Queen was faking her pregnancy in an attempt to introduce a false heir. She wrote, "they will stick at nothing, be it never so wicked, if it will promote their interest ... there may be foul play intended." Anne suffered another miscarriage in April 1688, and left London to recuperate in the spa town of Bath.
Anne's stepmother gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward, on 10 June 1688, and a Catholic succession became more likely.Anne was still at Bath, so she did not witness the birth, which fed the belief that the child was spurious. Anne may have left the capital deliberately to avoid being present, or because she was genuinely ill, but it is also possible that James desired the exclusion of all Protestants, including his daughter, from affairs of state. "I shall never now be satisfied", Anne wrote to her sister 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."
To dispel rumours of a supposititious child, James had 40 witnesses to the birth attend a Privy Council meeting, but Anne claimed she could not attend because she was pregnant herself (which she was not) and then declined to read the depositions because it was "not necessary".
Engraving of William and Mary
In what became known as the "Glorious Revolution", Anne's brother-in-law, William of Orange, invaded England on 5 November 1688 in an action that ultimately deposed King James. Forbidden by James to pay Mary a projected visit in the spring of 1687, Anne corresponded with her and was aware of William's plans to invade. On the advice of the Churchills, she refused to side with James after William landed and instead wrote to her brother-in-law on 18 November declaring her approval of his action. Churchill abandoned the unpopular king on the 24th. Prince George followed suit that night, and in the evening of the following day James issued orders to place Sarah Churchill under house arrest at St James's Palace. Anne and Sarah fled from Whitehall by a back staircase, putting themselves under the care of Bishop Compton. They spent one night in his house, and subsequently arrived at Nottingham on 1 December. Two weeks later and escorted by a large company, Anne arrived at Oxford, where she met Prince George in triumph. "God help me!", lamented James on discovering the desertion of his daughter on 26 November, "Even my children have forsaken me." On 19 December, Anne returned to London, where she was at once visited by her brother-in-law William. James fled to France on the 23rd. Anne showed no concern at the news of her father's flight, and instead merely asked for her usual game of cards. She justified herself by saying that she "was used to play and never loved to do anything that looked like an affected constraint".
In January 1689, a Convention Parliament assembled in England and declared that James had effectively abdicated when he fled, and that the thrones of England and Ireland were therefore vacant. The Parliament or Estates of Scotland took similar action, and William and Mary were declared monarchs of all three realms. The Bill of Rights 1689 and Claim of Right Act 1689 settled the succession. Anne and her descendants were to be in the line of succession after William and Mary, and they were to be followed by any descendants of William by a future marriage. On 24 July 1689, Anne gave birth to a son, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, who, though ill, survived infancy. As King William and Queen Mary had no children, it looked as though Anne's son would eventually inherit the Crown.
Act of Settlement
Anne's final pregnancy ended on 25 January 1700, when she miscarried a stillborn son. She had been pregnant at least seventeen times over as many years, and had miscarried or given birth to stillborn children at least twelve times. Of her five liveborn children, four died before reaching the age of two.Anne suffered from bouts of "gout", pains in her limbs and eventually stomach and head, from at least 1698. Based on her foetal losses and physical symptoms, she may have had disseminated lupus erythematosus, or Hughes syndrome. Alternatively, pelvic inflammatory disease could explain why the onset of her symptoms roughly coincided with her penultimate pregnancy. Other suggested causes of her failed pregnancies are listeriosis, diabetes, intrauterine growth retardation, and rhesus incompatibility. Rhesus incompatibility, however, generally worsens with successive pregnancies, and so does not fit with the pattern of Anne's pregnancies, as her only son to survive infancy, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, was born after a series of stillbirths. Experts also rule out syphilis, porphyria and pelvic deformation as incompatible with her medical history.
Anne with her son Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, in a painting from the school of Sir Godfrey Kneller, circa1694
Anne's gout rendered her lame for much of her later life.Around the court, she was carried in a sedan chair, or used a wheelchair. Around her estates, she used a one-horse chaise, which she drove herself "furiously like Jehuand a mighty hunter like Nimrod". She gained weight as a result of her sedentary lifestyle; in Sarah's words, "she grew exceeding gross and corpulent. There was something of majesty in her look, but mixed with a gloominess of soul". Sir John Clerk, 1st Baronet, described her in 1706 "under a fit of the gout and in extreme pain and agony, and on this occasion everything about her was much in the same disorder as about the meanest of her subjects. Her face, which was red and spotted, was rendered something frightful by her negligent dress, and the foot affected was tied up with a poultice and some nasty bandages. I was much affected by this sight ...".
Anne's sole surviving child, the Duke of Gloucester, died at the age of eleven on 30 July 1700. She and her husband were "overwhelmed with grief". Anne ordered her household to observe a day of mourning every year on the anniversary of his death. With William childless and Gloucester dead, Anne was the only individual remaining in the line of succession established by the Bill of Rights 1689. To address the succession crisis and preclude a Catholic restoration, the Parliament of England enacted the Act of Settlement 1701, which provided that, failing the issue of Anne and of William III by any future marriage, the Crown of England and Ireland would go to Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her Protestant descendants. Sophia was the granddaughter of James VI and I through his daughter Elizabeth, who was the sister of Anne's grandfather Charles I. Over fifty Catholic claimants more closely related to Anne were excluded from the line of succession. Anne's father died in September 1701. His widow, Anne's stepmother, the former queen, wrote to Anne to inform her that her father forgave her and to remind her of her promise to seek the restoration of his line. Anne, however, had already acquiesced to the new line of succession created by the Act of Settlement.
Anne became queen upon the death of William III on 8 March 1702, and was immediately popular. In her first speech to the English Parliament, on 11 March, she distanced herself from her late Dutch brother-in-law and said, "As I know my heart to be entirely English, I can very sincerely assure you there is not anything you can expect or desire from me which I shall not be ready to do for the happiness and prosperity of England."
Portrait by Charles Jervas
Soon after her accession, Anne appointed her husband Lord High Admiral, giving him nominal 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 rank of duke. The Duchess of Marlborough was appointed Groom of the Stole, Mistress of the Robes, and Keeper of the Privy Purse.
Anne was crowned on St George's Day, 23 April 1702. Afflicted with gout, she was carried to Westminster Abbeyin an open sedan chair, with a low back to permit her train to flow out behind her. On 4 May, England became embroiled in the War of the Spanish Succession, in which England, Austria and the Dutch Republic fought against France and Spain. Charles II of Spain had died childless in 1700, and the succession was disputed by two claimants: the Habsburg Archduke Charles of Austria and the Bourbon Philip, Duke of Anjou.
Act of Union
While Ireland was subordinate to the English Crown and Wales formed part of the kingdom of England, Scotland remained an independent sovereign state with its own parliament and laws. The Act of Settlement 1701, passed by the English Parliament, applied in the kingdoms of England and Ireland but not Scotland, where a strong minority wished to preserve the Stuart dynasty and its right of inheritance to the throne. Anne had declared it "very necessary" to conclude a union of England and Scotland in her first speech to the English Parliament, and a joint Anglo-Scots commission met at her former residence the Cockpit to discuss terms in October 1702. The negotiations broke up in early February 1703 having failed to reach an agreement. The Estates of Scotland responded to the Act of Settlement by passing the Act of Security, which gave the Estates the power, if the Queen had no further children, to choose the next Scottish monarch from among 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 England granted full freedom of trade to Scottish merchants. At first, Anne withheld royal assent to the act, but granted it the following year when the Estates threatened to withhold supply, endangering Scottish support for England's wars.
In its turn, the English Parliament responded with the Alien Act 1705, which threatened to impose economic sanctions and declare Scottish subjects aliens in England, unless Scotland either repealed the Act of Security or moved to unite with England. The Estates chose the latter option; the English Parliament agreed to repeal the Alien Act, and new commissioners were appointed by Queen Anne in early 1706 to negotiate the terms of a union. The articles of union approved by the commissioners were presented to Anne on 23 July 1706, and ratified by the Scottish and English Parliaments on 16 January and 6 March 1707 respectively. Under the Acts of Union, England and Scotland were united into a single kingdom called Great Britain, with one parliament, on 1 May 1707.Anne, a consistent and ardent supporter of union despite opposition on both sides of the border, attended a thanksgiving service in St Paul's Cathedral. The Scot Sir John Clerk, 1st Baronet, who also attended, wrote, "nobody on this occasion appeared more sincerely devout and thankful than the Queen herself".
Portrait from the school of John Closterman, circa 1702
Death of her husband
Anne was devastated by her husband's death in October 1708, and the event proved a turning point in her relationship with the Duchess of Marlborough. The Duchess arrived at Kensington Palace shortly before George died, and after his death insisted that Anne leave Kensington for St James's Palace against her wishes. Anne resented the Duchess's intrusive actions, which included removing a portrait of George from the Queen's bedchamber and then refusing to return it in the belief that it was natural "to avoid seeing of papers or anything that belonged to one that one loved when they were just dead".
The Whigs used George's death to their own advantage. The leadership of the Admiralty was unpopular among the Whig leaders, who had blamed Prince George and his deputy George Churchill (who was Marlborough's brother) for mismanagement of the navy.[ With Whigs now dominant in Parliament, and Anne distraught at the loss of her husband, they forced her to accept the Junto leaders Lords Somers and Wharton into the cabinet. Anne, however, insisted on carrying out the duties of Lord High Admiral herself, without appointing a member of the government to take George's place. Undeterred, the Junto demanded the appointment of the Earl of Orford, another member of the Junto and one of Prince George's leading critics, as First Lord of the Admiralty. Anne appointed the moderate Earl of Pembroke, on 29 November 1708. Pressure mounted on Pembroke, Godolphin and the Queen from the dissatisfied Junto Whigs, and Pembroke resigned after less than a year in office. Another month of arguments followed before the Queen finally consented to put Orford in control of the Admiralty as First Lord in November 1709.
Sarah continued to berate Anne for her friendship with Abigail, and in October 1709, Anne wrote to the Duke of Marlborough asking that his wife "leave off teasing & tormenting me & behave herself with the decency she ought both to her friend and Queen". On Maundy Thursday 6 April 1710, Anne and Sarah saw each other for the last time. According to Sarah, the Queen was taciturn and formal, repeating the same phrases—"Whatever you have to say you may put in writing" and "You said you desired no answer, and I shall give you none"—over and over.
Anne with her husband, Prince George of Denmark, painted by Charles Boit, 1706
Anne was unable to walk between January and July 1713. At Christmas, she was feverish, and lay unconscious for hours, which led to rumours of her impending death. She recovered, but was seriously ill again in March.By July, Anne had lost confidence in Harley; his secretary recorded that Anne told the cabinet "that he neglected all business; that he was seldom to be understood; that when he did explain himself, she could not depend upon the truth of what he said; that he never came to her at the time she appointed; that he often came drunk; [and] last, to crown all, he behaved himself towards her with ill manner, indecency and disrespect."On 27 July 1714, during Parliament's summer recess, she dismissed Harley as Lord Treasurer. Despite failing health, which her doctors blamed on the emotional strain of matters of state, she attended two late-night cabinet meetings that failed to determine Harley's successor. A third meeting was cancelled when she became too ill to attend. She was rendered unable to speak by a stroke on 30 July 1714, the anniversary of Gloucester's death, and on the advice of the Privy Council handed the treasurer's staff of office to Whig grandee Charles Talbot, 1st Duke of Shrewsbury. She died at around 7:30 a.m. on 1 August 1714. John Arbuthnot, one of her doctors, thought her death was a release from a life of ill-health and tragedy; he wrote to Jonathan Swift, "I believe sleep was never more welcome to a weary traveller than death was to her."
Anne was buried beside her husband and children in the Henry VII chapel on the South Aisle of Westminster Abbey on 24 August. The Electress Sophia had died on 28 May, two months before Anne, so the Electress's son, George, Elector of Hanover, inherited the British Crown pursuant to the Act of Settlement 1701. The possible Catholic claimants, including Anne's half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart, were ignored. The Elector's accession was relatively stable: a Jacobite rising in 1715 failed. Marlborough was re-instated, and the Tory ministers were replaced by Whigs.
Tinted engraving of Anne from an atlas commissioned by Augustus of Saxony, 1706–1710
The Duchess of Marlborough "unduly disparaged" Anne in her memoirs, and her prejudiced recollections persuaded many biographers that Anne was "a weak, irresolute woman beset by bedchamber quarrels and deciding high policy on the basis of personalities". The Duchess wrote of Anne:
In the opinion of historians, traditional assessments of Anne as fat, constantly pregnant, under the influence of favourites, and lacking political astuteness or interest may derive from male chauvinist prejudices against women. Author David Green noted, "Hers was not, as used to be supposed, petticoat government. She had considerable power; yet time and time again she had to capitulate." Professor Edward Gregg concluded that Anne was often able to impose her will, even though, as a woman in an age of male dominance and preoccupied by her health, her reign was marked by an increase in the influence of ministers and a decrease in the influence of the Crown. She attended more cabinet meetings than any of her predecessors or successors, and presided over an age of artistic, literary, economic and political advancement that was made possible by the stability and prosperity of her reign. In architecture, Sir John Vanbrugh constructed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. Writers such as Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift flourished. Henry Wise laid out new gardens at Blenheim, Kensington, Windsor and St James's.rade area. The political and diplomatic achievements of Anne's governments, and the absence of constitutional conflict between monarch and parliament during her reign, indicate that she chose ministers and exercised her prerogatives wisely.
Statue of Anne in front of St Paul's Cathedral, London. A High Tory political opponent wrote that "it was fitting she was depicted with her rump to the church, gazing longingly into a wineshop"