Queen of Great Britain & Ireland
(1665 – 1714)
Anne, queen of Great Britain and Ireland, was born at St. James Palace, London, on February 6, 1665. She was the second daughter of James II of England by his first wife, Anne Hyde, the daughter of the famous Earl of Clarendon. When she was six years old, her mother died and her father soon after professed himself a member of the Church of Rome. Even so, his daughters were educated in the principles of the Church of England, to which Anne always retained an earnest if not a very enlightened loyalty.
Queen Anne was of middle size, and attractive, though not beautiful. She was virtuous, conscientious, and affectionate, more worthy of respect as a woman than of administration as a queen.
In 1683 Anne was married to Prince George of Denmark, a slothful yet good-natured man, who concerned himself little about public affairs, and had as little capacity for dealing with them. At an early age she formed an intimacy with Sarah Jennings, afterwards the Duchess of Marlborough, who exercised an almost unbounded influence over her, both before and after her accession to the throne. She was the mother of seventeen children, all of whom died young and before she became queen.
In the revolution of 1688, Anne supported the cause of the Prince of Orange, but was afterwards implicated in intrigues for the restoration of her father. She succeeded William III who died March 8, 1702, at a time when the strife of parties was extremely violent. She pursued the foreign policy of the late king, which involved England in the long war of the Spanish succession as the ally of Austria and the enemy of France.
Among the important events of Anne’s reign were a number of victories gained by the Duke of Marlborough over the armies of Louis XIV, and the union of England and Scotland in 1707. Her political principles, if she had any, were favorable to royal prerogative rather than constitutional liberty, and rendered her partial to the Tories.
Anne became gradually alienated from the Duchess of Marlborough, who as a Whig, and transferred her favoritism to Mrs. Masham, whose intrigues undermined the Whig party so effectively that the Tory statesmen, the Earl of Oxford and Lord Bolingbroke, came into power in 1710. The queen and these Tory ministers agreed in plans and schemes to secure the succession to her brother, the Pretender. The European war was ended by the treaty of Utrecht, Lord Bolingbroke became prime minister in place of the Earl of Oxford, and the poor queen was kept in a state of constant unrest through the quarrels of her ministers. She died of a stroke on August 1, 1714 and was succeeded by George I.
Though not accredited to her, Queen Anne’s reign was almost as famous in literature as the Augustan age of Rome, marked by such genius as Newton, Addison, Pope, Bolingbroke, Swift, DeFoe, and Arbuthnot.