Queen Anne of England

Anne Stuart was an unlikely person to become queen of England. She was born on February 6, 1665 to the Duke and Duchess of York and was their second daughter out of three children. Shortly before her birth, her uncle, King Charles II,  had married and seemed destined to have a large family after fathering several illegitimate children.  But he had no more children. As Anne grew older she would be plagued by numerous health problems, but she survived to adulthood. She only received a limited education, yet Anne would reign during a critically important period in her nation's history. During her reign she would oversee two major events in English history, one domestic and one foreign. The first being the Act of Union that united England and Scotland. The second was a major international war, the War of Spanish Succession. Best remembered as the last of the Stuart dynasty Anne had no heirs. The events of her reign would pave the way for Britain to become an international world power.

Although born into royalty, her education was similar to that of other aristocratic girls:  languages and music. Her knowledge of history was limited and she received no instruction in civil law or military matters that most male monarchs were expected to have. She was also a sickly child, and may have suffered from the blood disease porphyria, as well as having poor vision and  a serious case of smallpox at the age of twelve. Poor health would plague Anne her entire life, probably contributing to her many miscarriages.

Anne grew up in an atmosphere of controversy. Her father James, the Duke of York, and both her mother and later her stepmother were Roman Catholic. They would have preferred to raise Anne and Mary (their only children to survive early childhood)  as Roman Catholics. Nevertheless, prominent Protestants, such as Henry Compton, later bishop of London, interceded and ensured the girls would not only be required to attend Protestant services but that they also receive Protestant religious instruction.

Anne's life dramatically changed when the Lord Treasurer and Earl of Danby, in an attempt to strengthen his influence with King Charles II, arranged the marriage of Anne's sister, Mary, to William of Orange. Their father, the Duke of York, had wanted to wed Mary to the heir to the French throne, a Roman Catholic. Danby persuaded by the King to allow the marriage to William, a Dutch Protestant and an enemy of France, thus straining the close relationship between Anne and Mary. Anne married Prince George of Denmark. This was an arrangement Anne's father negotiated in secret with sponsorship by King Louis XIV of France, who hoped for a Anglo-Danish alliance against William of Orange and the Dutch. No such alliance would ever materialize.  

Her husband did not affect Anne's position as he remained politically weak and inactive, suffering from a drinking problem. Prince George's influence in matters of state would remain small throughout their marriage. The relationship he had with Anne was a close one and she loved him deeply, however, their marriage was saddened by Anne's twelve miscarriages and the fact that none of their other five children reached adulthood.

When King Charles II died in 1686, Anne's father became King James II. His Roman Catholicism and his desire to rule without Parliament's input caused Parliament to call on William of Orange and Mary to take the throne, in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This revolution created a constitutional, limited monarchy in England, where elected representatives, not a dynastic monarch, truly ruled.  Interestingly, later Queen Anne became the last British monarch to veto an act of Parliament.  Anne supported the revolution and opposed her father. 

Mary allowed her husband to rule, and neither got along with Anne during their reign.  But since they never had children, after Mary died, followed by William, in 1702, the throne then passed to Anne. The Settlement Act of 1701 paved the way for Anne's reign. It stated that if Anne died without children the throne would pass to the German Hanoverians. The only challenge was her half brother James, a Roman Catholic living in exile in France.  Thus Anne ascended as the last Stuart monarch, and was the first married queen to rule England.

Anne's reign would be characterized by the attempts of others to manipulate her. Most significantly among these individuals was Sarah Churchill.  A friend of Anne's since childhood, Anne leaned heavily on her for companionship. After Anne's marriage she named Sarah to the prestigious position of Lady of the Bedchamber. After Anne became queen, she named Sarah to other prominent posts including Keeper of the Privy Purse, Mistress of the Robes and Groom of the Stole. Their relationship for many years was a close one with Anne showering Sarah with large allowances and gifts, such as the huge and extravagant Blenheim estate. The estate was given to the Churchill's as a reward for John Churchill's important military victory in the War of Spanish Succession. Anne often seemed dependent on Sarah, at least for emotional support. Anne would constantly write to Sarah when Sarah was away from the court attending to her family. Anne's letters made it seem like she could not get along without Sarah. They would use playful pseudonyms when writing to each other:  Anne being Mrs. Morley and Sarah Mrs. Freeman. Their relationship would eventually deteriorate due to Sarah's nagging and their many petty arguments. Sarah would fall out of favor and would be replaced as Anne's favorite by a distant cousin, Abigail Masham.

The end of Anne's friendship with Sarah signaled a change in political influences as well. Although Anne had always been a strong Tory throughout her reign she had vigorously supported the War of Spanish Succession, a Whig war. Sarah Churchill was a Whig and her husband John, though a Tory, was the leading English general in the conflict. Because of the Churchill's influence, Anne had always been inclined to support the war which was the most important event in foreign affairs during Anne's reign. However, when Abigail Masham a Tory replaced Sarah as Anne's close friend it signaled a shift in politics. Some historians believe Anne manipulated her ministers to enact the policies she wanted while others see her as a monarch manipulated by her ministers. Whatever the case, when the Tories came into power they negotiated an end to the war.

The Settlement Act of 1701 had angered Scotland where the Stuart dynasty had originated. The Scots threatened to bring back James, Anne's Roman Catholic half-brother and pretender to the throne, to rule. To head off a revolt and unite support for the crown, Anne pushed for the Act of Union which would unite England and Scotland. The Act of Union was finally accepted in 1707. 

In the last couple years of her life Anne became very ill. She was often bedridden and attended to by doctors. These doctors used many techniques to try to cure Anne including bleeding her and applying hot irons. These crude medicinal techniques probably did more harm than good, and Anne died on July 31st 1714.

Annotated Bibliography

Ashley, Maurice. The Stuarts in Love. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1964.
This book is intended to deal with the personal lives and loves of the members of the Stuart dynasty.  It begins in the first section by discussing love and marriages of each class of English society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It then goes on to discuss each of the Stuart monarchs, dedicating two chapters to each one. The two chapters dedicated to Queen Anne are entitled "The extravagant passions of Queen Anne." These chapters briefly discuss Anne's early life and love life. The main focus concern Anne's friendships, particularly with Sarah Churchill, and how these relationships intertwined with politics. These chapters go farther than Anne's personal life and talk extensively about her reign and the major events of that period. These chapters are brief biographies that go beyond Anne's personal life.  Finally, this author concludes that Anne was not someone bullied by those vying for her affection, but rather a monarch who had a firm policy and pursued it in the manner she saw fit.  This book provides a good list of footnotes at the end of each chapter.  Overall though, the information contained in it can be found in other sources.

Bucholz, Robert O. " 'Nothing but Ceremony': Queen Anne." Journal of British Studies. 30 (1991): 288-323.
This is an interesting article in which the author sets out to write about an aspect of Queen Anne's reign he says has been neglected; her use of royal ritual to unite Britain.  Bucholz states Anne uses royal ritual and ceremony in a couple of different ways. She uses ritual to make political statements and to demonstrate the monarchy was above the squabbling of partisan politics. He discusses Anne's use of parallels between herself and Queen Elizabeth and the use of the analogy of Anne being the mother to the people of England. He also discusses Anne's use of ceremony during special occasions to rally support for the monarchy.  Bucholz concludes Anne's use of royal ritual was ultimately a failure because of her inability to unite the various political factions. These politicians were important subjects who were not dependent on the monarchy for their status in society. Though Anne reached back in history to reestablish Bucholz says she inadvertently brought about a future in which the main role of the monarchy was ceremonial, to represent the state. The monarchy was then limited and not able to rally people as effectively. This is an interesting article on a unique topic which is extensively footnoted and has a good bibliography.

Clark, Sir George. The Later Stuarts 1660-1714. 2nd Ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961.
This book was written as part of a fourteen volume series of the history of England. This book covers English history from the time of the restoration until the death of Queen Anne. The book begins by discussing Anne's reign with the War of Spanish Succession followed by Whigs and Tories. Clark sees Anne as a weak and bullied monarch, sometimes not more than a figurehead. He sees are as appointing and dismissing ministers in accordance with her emotions rather than sound judgment.  The only area that she ruled significantly in , he says, is in her religious appointments where her influence was great.  He dedicates more time to events of social and political trends during her reign than to Anne herself. He does mention Queen Anne's Bounty, the money that she annually gave to the poor. Near the end of the book, he takes a topical approach and addresses economics, the criminal code, overseas colonies, arts and literature and other aspects of Anne's reign not found in other sources.  This book has an annotated bibliography organized by topic, charts of the Stuart family, many maps and an appendix listing the important government ministers. This book is an excellent source for events and topics of Queen Anne's reign not covered elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is little personal biographical information about Anne herself.

Curtis, Gila. The Life and Times of Queen Anne. London: Wiedenfeld and Nicolson Limited, 1972.
An easy read, this book is written for a non-scholarly general audience. It is packed with a large number of illustrations of people, places, and events prominent during Queen Anne's life. It has no footnotes and only a brief bibliography, although it does contain many excerpts from primary source material.The book is divided into eight sections, each covering a different time period of Anne's life. Although not as detailed as some of the more scholarly works, this is a complete biography covering all aspects and major events of Anne's life and reign.It is particularly good in showing Anne's relationship and eventual falling out with Sarah Churchill. Also, it competently explains  the political struggle of Whigs and Tories during Queen Anne's reign.

Gregg, Edward. Queen Anne. London: Routledge & Kegan, Paul, 1980.
R.O. Bucholz, Assistant Professor of History at Loyola University, in his article says that this book is the definitive biography of Queen Anne.  This is a well written and thorough biography with frequent quotations from primary source material which is extensively footnoted and documented. The author cites many items previously unavailable from the archives in Britain and overseas as well as his use of works of other contemporary scholars as the unique characteristics of his work. His book tries to refute the claims of Sarah Churchill and others who have followed her interpretation of Queen Anne. These interpretations often painted Anne as weak, indecisive, dominated by others and as a monarch who let policy be affected by petty personal squabbles.Gregg sees Queen Anne as more important and attempts to give a balanced portrayal of her public and private life. Gregg believes that Queen Anne was a strong, careful and calculating monarch, was driven by ambition and resolve, and who asserted her authority without trampling on parliamentary authority. He also portrays Anne pursuing a course of political moderation. She is not someone dominated by changes in the strengths of different political parties.  Rather, a monarch not controlled by either party who had ministers from both parties and changed them in order to pursue policies of which she approved.  This extensive work and its bold interpretation of Queen Anne make this book an extremely useful source.

Green, David. Queen Anne. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970.
In this work, the author presents a work more complex than most. He sees her not as a great monarch and not one who was weak and ineffective. He sees her as a courageous queen who did her best despite many personal and political obstacles that would have been difficult for any monarch. Even though obstacles proved too difficult for her, she always did her best to carry out her duties.  He also makes the point that Anne was a transitional monarch. She was not a powerful Divine Right monarch but one who was moving toward a constitutional monarchy in which Parliament had the power, although that form of government hadn't fully emerged.  This is a good source with frequent quoting from primary sources and contains an extensive bibliography. The author's appendix on the health of Queen Anne is a unique feature of this book.

Harris, Frances. "Accounts of the Conduct of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, 1704-1742" British Library Journal (1982): 7-35.
This article focuses on the writings of Queen Anne's close friend and confidant Sarah Churchill. It provides some insight on Sarah's and Anne's turbulent relationship. Mainly, it addresses what Sarah wrote and when she wrote it. It provides some context by discussing Sarah's motivations when she wrote something as well as events surrounding that time. It also discusses who assisted Sarah with her writings and precisely what role they had in writing and compiling her papers. Finally, it discusses the organization of Sarah Churchill's papers. This is an excellent resource for those interested in serious research of the papers of Sarah Churchill. Although Sarah's papers undoubtedly contain a wealth of information on Queen Anne this article has only limited information on the topic.

Kishlansky, Mark. A Monarchy Transformed. Allen Lane: The Penguin Press, 1996.
This is the sixth volume in a nine volume Penguin History of Britain and covers the entire reign of the Stuart dynasty. As the title suggests, the author sees the Stuart dynasty as a time when the monarch and England itself were greatly changed.  The monarchy evolved into a constitutional monarchy from a more absolute one. The nation itself also became more unified and grew to include a large overseas empire. Many of these changes occurred during Queen Anne's reign. Mentioned sporadically elsewhere, the last chapter focuses on Anne and her reign. It focuses a lot on the politics of her reign.  Also included in the chapter is information relating to the War of Spanish Succession. This chapter is of some, but not great usefulness in studying Queen Anne. The book does include a section entitled 'For Further Reading,' which is organized by monarch and is helpful on finding other sources of information about Queen Anne.

Trevelyan, George Macauly. England Under the Stuarts. History of England, vol. V. London: Methuen Co., LTD., reprinted 1961.
This is a book by the author who wrote the ground-breaking and most important work on Queen Anne: the three volume work England Under Queen Anne. Trevelyan writes about the Stuart dynasty as his contribution to an eight volume history of England. The final chapter of the book is dedicated to the reign of Queen Anne. This chapter gives extensive treatment to the events of Anne's reign. The Queen herself is not the major focus although she is often mentioned and her friendship with Sarah Churchill and Abigal Masham are discussed.  The politics of the Whigs and Tories and the War of Spanish Succession are extensively discussed. Trevelyan also pays more attention than most authors to the class structure as it related to political party makeup. His use of marginal headings are useful guides to topics of particular paragraphs. Also, he makes extensive use of maps; a Trevelyan trademark.  Footnotes are located at the bottom of each page and are well done, as is the extensive bibliography.  This is an excellent user-friendly source for the events of Anne's reign.


"Monarchs of England ANNE (1702-14AD)". <http://www.britannia.com/history/monarchs/mon52.html> (November 9, 2004).
This article provides only superficial background information on Queen Anne's life. It focuses mainly on her reign. It gives particular attention to those vying for influence over Anne especially Sarah Churchill and Abigal Hill. This is a useful source for background information on this aspect of Queen Anne's life.

Royal Household. "Anne." The official website of the British monarchy. n.d. <http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page102.asp> (November 9, 2004).
This article comes from . This article provides only brief background information about Anne's life and gives almost no attention to her friendship with the Churchills. Its main focus is on the role government and politics played in Queen Anne's reign. It is a good resource for basic information about politics during the reign of Queen Anne.

"Sir William Wallace of Elerslie - Queen Anne and the 1707 Act of Union". <http://www.highlanderweb.co.uk/wallace/anne.htm>.
This article focuses on the Act of Union of 1707 and Queen Anne's role in advocating for it. It makes the ironic point that Queen Anne was the last Stuart monarch, which was originally a Scottish dynasty, and the last monarch to rule and independent Scotland. Yet Anne pushed for an act that effectively ended Scottish independence. The article tries to make the connection with Sir William Wallace who fought in the 1200's for Scottish independence. Ironically this article claims it was a "Scottish" monarch who ended Scotland's independence. This article is somewhat biased and minimizes Anne's accomplishments. Surprisingly, this article provides good background information on her early life. This was the most unique website article found about Queen Anne.

Copied from this website?<http://www.futura-dtp.dk/SLAG/Personer/NavneA/AnneEL.htm> (5 January 2004).   <http://www.charlottesville-area-real-estate.com/FluvannaCountyRealEstate.html>.


This page has had
Hit Counter
hits since 9 February 2007.
URL: http://departments.kings.edu/womens_history/anne.html
 Original Written by Richard Blythe, 1998 February
Revised by Paul Lindenmuth, 2000 November
Last Revision: 21 January 2005
Copyright MMV Prof. Pavlac's Women's History Site

Questions, Suggestions, Comments? e-mail bapavlacATkings.edu