Queen Anne of Great Britain

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Queen of Great Britain and Ireland;
prev. Queen of England and Scotland
Queen Anne.jpg
Reign March 8, 1702 – August 1, 1714
Predecessor William III
Successor George I
Consort Prince George, Duke of Cumberland
Prince William, Duke of Gloucester
HM The Queen
HRH Princess George of Denmark
Princess Anne
Royal House House of Stuart
Father James II
Mother Anne Hyde
Born February 6, 1665
Flag of England Saint James's Palace, London
Died 1 August 1714 (aged 49)
Westminster Abbey, London

Anne (February 6, 1665 – August 1, 1714) became Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland on March 8, 1702, succeeding William III and II. Her Roman Catholic father, James II and VII, was forcibly deposed in 1688; her brother-in-law and her sister then became joint monarchs as William III-II and Mary II, the only such case in British history. After Mary's death in 1694, William continued as sole monarch until his own death in 1702. On May 1, 1707, under the Acts of Union 1707, England and Scotland were united as a single state, the Kingdom of Great Britain. Anne became its first sovereign, while continuing to hold the separate crown of Queen of Ireland. Anne reigned for 12 years until her death in August of 1714.

Anne's life was marked by many crises, both personally and relating to succession of the Crown and religious polarization. Because she died without surviving issue, Anne was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. 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 I. Anne's reign 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). Preoccupied with her health, (she suffered from porphyria), Anne allowed her ministers, most notably Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, as well as her favorite companions (Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and Abigail Masham) to dominate politics. However, the clock could not be set back in terms of the development of a system of governance which, while not yet a full blown democracy, saw more people participating in the decision-making process.

Early life


Anne was born in Saint James's Palace of London, the second daughter of James, Duke of York, (afterwards James II) and his first wife, the Lady Anne Hyde. Her paternal uncle was King Charles II, and her older sister was the future Mary II. Anne and Mary were the only children of the Duke and Duchess of York to survive into adulthood. As a child, Anne suffered from an eye infection, and was sent to France for treatment, where she lived with her grandmother, Henrietta Maria of France. After her aunt's death, Anne lived with Henrietta Anne, Duchess d'Orléans, another aunt, and returned to England in 1670. In about 1673, Anne made the acquaintance of Sarah Jennings, who became her close friend and one of her most influential advisers. Jennings later married John Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough, who became one of Anne's most important generals.

In 1673, Anne's father's conversion to Roman Catholicism became public. On the instructions of her uncle, Charles II, however, Anne and her sister Mary were raised as strict Protestants. On July 28, 1683, Anne married the Protestant Prince George of Denmark, brother of the Danish King Christian V, who was also her third cousin through Frederick II). Although this was not a popular union at the time, it ended up as one of great domestic happiness and friendship. Sarah Churchill became Anne's Lady of the Bedchamber, and, by Anne's desire to mark their mutual intimacy and affection, all deference of their ranks was abandoned, and the two ladies called each other Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman.

Accession of James II

When Charles II died in 1685 (converting to Roman Catholicism on his deathbed), Anne's father ascended the Throne as James II. James 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 June 10, 1688, and a Roman Catholic dynasty became all the more likely. Anne was not present on the occasion, having gone to Bath, and this gave rise to a belief that the child was spurious. However, it is most probable that James desired to exclude all Protestants from affairs of state, as he was Roman Catholic. "I shall never now be satisfied," Anne wrote to her sister Mary of the event, "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." [1] Princess Anne's sister and brother-in-law, Mary and William, subsequently invaded England to dethrone the unpopular and despotic James II in the Glorious Revolution.

The Glorious Revolution

Forbidden by James to pay Mary a projected visit in the spring of 1688, Anne corresponded with her, and was no doubt aware of William's plans to invade England. On the advice of the Churchills - Anne's conduct during this period was probably influenced a great deal by the Churchills - she refused to show any sympathy for James after William landed in November and wrote instead to William, declaring her approval of his action. Churchill abandoned the king on the 24th of that month, with Prince George following his actions on the 25th. When James returned to London on the 26th, he found that Anne and her lady-in-waiting had followed their husbands' examples during the previous night.

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 travelled to 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." [2] She returned to London on December 19, where she was at once visited by her brother-in-law 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 Mary, but accepted jointly by, William and Mary, who thereafter ruled as the only joint monarchs in British history. The Bill of Rights 1689 settled succession to the Throne, with Princess Anne and her descendants 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 rewarded Churchill by granting him the Earldom of Marlborough. Their subsequent treatment of the Marlboroughs, however, was not as favorable. In 1692, suspecting that Lord Marlborough was a Jacobite, Mary dismissed him from all of his offices and duties. Lady Marlborough was subsequently removed from the Royal Household, leading Princess Anne to angrily leave her royal residence for Syon House, the Duke of Northumberland's home. Princess Anne was then stripped of her guard of honor, 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. Anne then became his heir apparent, since any children he might have by another wife were assigned to a lower place in the line of succession. Seeking to improve his own popularity (which had always been much lower than that of his wife), he restored Princess Anne to her previous honors, allowing her to reside in Saint 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 favor 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. The unfounded rumor 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.

The Act of Settlement

During this period, Prince George and Princess Anne suffered great personal misfortune. By 1700, the future Queen had been pregnant at least eighteen times; thirteen of which, 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 been open for the deposed King James or his son James Francis Edward Stuart (the "Old Pretender") to claim the Throne.

Thus, 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 Stuart. Several genealogically senior claimants were disregarded due to their Catholicism, and Anne acquiesced to the new line of succession created by the Act of Settlement.

William III died on March 8, 1702 and Anne was crowned on April 23.

Anne's reign

The War of the Spanish Succession

Almost as soon as she succeeded to the throne, Anne became embroiled in the War of the Spanish Succession. This war, in which England supported the claim of Archduke Charles to succeed to the Spanish Throne, would continue until the last years of Anne's reign, and would dominate both foreign and domestic policy.

Soon after her ascension, 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 ducal rank. The Duchess of Marlborough was appointed to the post of Mistress of the Robes, the highest office a lady could attain.

The Act of Union

In passing the Act of Settlement, in 1701, the English Parliament had neglected to consult with the Parliament of Scotland or Estates of Scotland, which, in part, wished to preserve the Stuart dynasty and its right of inheritance to the Throne. The Scottish response to the Settlement was to pass the Act of Security; a bill which stated that - failing the issue of the Queen - the Estates had the power to choose the next Scottish monarch from amongst the numerous 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, Royal Assent to the act, 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.

In its turn, 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. Eventually the Estates chose the latter option, and Commissioners were appointed to negotiate the terms of a union between the two countries. Articles of Union were approved by the Commissioners on July 22, 1706, and were agreed to by the Scottish Parliament on January 16, 1707. Under the Act, England and Scotland became one realm called Great Britain on May 1, 1707.

Two Party politics

Anne's reign was further marked by the development of a two-party system as the new era of parliamentary governance unfolded and matured. Anne personally preferred the Tory Party, but "endured" the Whigs. However, she did not openly declare which party she belonged to.

Anne's first ministry was primarily Tory, with Sidney Godolphin, 1st Baron Godolphin at its head. But 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 rose to power on the strength of Marlborough's victory, and 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).

Death of husband

Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark, died in October 1708. His leadership of the Admiralty was unpopular amongst the Whig leaders, so much so, that 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.

Anne was devastated by the loss of her husband, and the event proved a turning point in her relationship with her old friend, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. The Duchess arrived at Windsor shortly after he died, and forced the Queen to leave the castle and move to St. James's Palace against her will. Anne pleaded to be left alone, and resented the Duchess for insisting that the grieving Queen be attended at all times.

The Whigs used the Prince's death to their own advantage, heartlessly using her weakness to disregard the Queen's wishes and form a predominantly Whig government, led by Lord Godolphin. Their power was, however, limited by Anne's insistence to carry out the duties of Lord High Admiral herself, and not appointing a member of the government to take Prince George's place. Undeterred, the Whigs demanded the appointment of the Earl of Orford, one of Prince George's leading critics, as First Lord of the Admiralty. Anne flatly refused, and chose her own candidate, Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke on November 29, 1709.

Pressure mounted on Pembroke, Godolphin, and the Queen from the dissatisfied Junto Whigs, and Pembroke was forced to resign after just a month in office. Another month of arguments followed before the Queen finally consented to put the Admiralty in control of the Earl of Orford in November.

Later years

Queen Anne, by an unknown artist, studio of John Closterman (c. 1702)

As the expensive War of the Spanish Succession grew unpopular, so too did the Whig administration. Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer was particularly skillful in using the issue of the cost of the war to motivate the electorate. In the general election of 1710, discontented voters returned a large Tory majority. The new ministry was headed by Robert Harley and began to seek peace in the War of the Spanish Succession. 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) died in 1711, and 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. 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. Seeing a need for decisive action - to erase the Whig majority in the House of Lords - Anne created twelve new peers. Such a mass creation of peers was unprecedented; indeed, Elizabeth I had granted fewer peerage dignities in almost fifty years than Anne did in a single day. This allowed for ratification of the Treaty and thus ended Great Britain's involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession.


Anne died of suppressed gout, ending in erysipelas, at approximately seven o'clock 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, 1714), so the Electress's son, George I, Elector of Hanover, inherited the British Crown. Pursuant to the Act of Settlement 1701, the crown was settled on George as Electress Sophia's heir, with the possible Catholic claimants, including James Francis Edward Stuart, ignored. However, the Elector of Hanover's accession was relatively stable: Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1719 both failed.

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).

Preoccupied with her health, (she suffered from porphyria), Anne allowed her ministers, most notably Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, as well as her favorite companions (Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and Abigail Masham) to dominate politics.


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).

Preoccupied with her health, (she suffered from porphyria), Anne allowed her ministers, most notably Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, as well as her favorite companions (Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and Abigail Masham) to dominate politics.

The shift of power from the Crown to the ministry became even more apparent during the reign of George I, whose chief adviser, 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 and Castle Howard. Writers such as Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift flourished during Anne's reign as well.

Her name also remains associated with the world's first substantial copyright law, known as the Statute of Anne (1709), which granted exclusive rights to authors rather than printers.

Although Anne and her reign have no direct bearing on the style personally, at the time Queen Anne architecture style became popular in the mid-1900s, as her name connoted a sense of Old World elegance and extravagant, ornate details.

In entertainment

The BBC drama The First Churchills depicts Anne's life from her childhood to her death, focusing on her friendship with Sarah Churchill. Anne was played by the actress Margaret Tyzack.


The American city of Annapolis, Maryland, which previously bore several other names, was given its present name in 1694 by Sir Francis Nicholson, in honor of the then Princess Anne.

Titles, styles, honors and arms

  • Princess Anne from February 6, 1665 – July 28, 1683
  • Her Royal Highness Princess George of Denmark and Norway from July 28, 1683 – March 8, 1702
  • Her Majesty The Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland from March 8, 1702 – May 1, 1707
  • Her Majesty The Queen of Great Britain and Ireland from May 1, 1707 – August 1, 1714

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 treasure 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 emphasize 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). She used the motto Semper eadem (always the same).

Ancestry and descent


16. Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
8. James I of England
17. Mary I of Scotland
4. Charles I of England
18. Frederick II of Denmark
9. Princess Anne of Denmark
19. Sofie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
2. James II of England
20. Antoine of Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme
10. Henry IV of France
21. Jeanne III of Navarre
5. Princess Henrietta Maria of France
22. Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
11. Marie de' Medici
23. Archduchess Johanna of Austria
1. Anne of Great Britain
24. Lawrence Hyde
12. Henry Hyde
25. Anne Sibell
6. Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon
26. Edward Langford
13. Mary Langford
27. Mary Hyde
3. Anne Hyde
28. William Aylesbury
14. Thomas Aylesbury
29. Anne Poole
7. Frances Aylesbury
30. Francis Denman
15. Anne Denman
31. Anne Blount


Name Birth Death
By George of Denmark (April 2 1653–October 28 1708; married in July 28 1683)
Stillborn Daughter 12 May 1684 12 May 1684
Mary 2 June 1685 8 February 1687
Anne Sophia 12 May 1686 2 February 1687
Stillborn Child January 1687 January 1687
Stillborn Son 22 October 1687 22 October 1687
Stillborn Child 16 April 1688 16 April 1688
William, Duke of Gloucester 24 July 1689 29 July 1700
Mary 14 October 1690 14 October 1690
George 17 April 1692 17 April 1692
Stillborn Daughter 23 April 1693 23 April 1693
Stillborn Child 21 January 1694 21 January 1694
Stillborn Daughter 18 February 1696 18 February 1696
Stillborn Child 20 September 1696 20 September 1696
Stillborn Child 21 September 1696 21 September 1696
Stillborn Daughter 25 March 1697 25 March 1697
Stillborn Child December 1697 December 1697
Charles 15 September 1698 15 September 1698
Stillborn Daughter 25 January 1700 25 January 1700

House of Stuart
Born: February 6 1665; Died: August 1 1714

Preceded by:
William III
(also known as
William II of Scotland
and William III of Orange)
Queen of England
8 March 1702 – 1 May 1707
Acts of Union 1707 united England
and Scotland to form Great Britain
Queen of Scots
8 March 1702 – 1 May 1707
Queen of Ireland
8 March 1702 – 1 August 1714
Succeeded by: George I
New Title
Acts of Union 1707 united England
and Scotland to form Great Britain
Queen of Great Britain
1 May 1707 – 1 August 1714
British royalty
Preceded by:
William and Mary
mutual heirs
Heir to the English, Scottish and Irish Thrones
as heiress apparent
28 December 1694 – 8 March 1702
Succeeded by: Electress Sophia
Political offices
Preceded by:
Prince George of Denmark
Lord High Admiral
Succeeded by: The Earl of Pembroke


  1. "Queen Anne," NNDB Queen Anne Retrieved November 17, 2007.
  2. "Queen Anne" Queen Anne Retrieved November 17, 2007.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Gregg, Edward. Queen Anne. Hartford, CT: Yale University Press, 2001. ISBN 0300090242.
  • Hume, David. The History of England: From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688: The Last Stewarts and the Glorious Revolution. Indianapolis, Ind: Liberty Fund, New Ed., October 1985. ISBN 0865970343.
  • Morris, Jean. The Monarchs of England. NY: Charterhouse, 1975. ISBN 0883270439.
  • Trevelyan, George Macaulay and Anthony Gatrell: A Shortened History of England. London: Penguin (Non-Classics), 1988. ISBN 0140233237.

External Links

All links retrieved December 7, 2022.


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