Though her father converted to Catholicism, Anne and her elder sister, Mary, were raised in the Anglican faith, thanks to the influence of their powerful uncle, King Charles II.
Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill were childhood friends—but grew closer in court
The beautiful, intelligent and witty Sarah later married an older army officer, John Churchill, whose impressive military record helped make up for his modest background. When Anne herself married the handsome Prince George of Denmark in , she made Sarah her second lady of the bedchamber, the first of a number of titles she would bestow upon her close friend.
At some point, the two of them made up nicknames for each other that put them on equal social footing at least privately : Anne was Mrs. Morley, while Sarah was Mrs.
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When Sarah was away from the palace, she and Anne exchanged a flood of letters. With William and Mary on the throne as co-regents, Anne was next in line to the throne, but was having a great deal of trouble producing an heir. Chronically ill throughout her life, Anne suffered from an array of ailments including severe myopia, gout and possibly lupus.
Tragically, though Anne would become pregnant 17 times during her lifetime, most of her pregnancies ended in miscarriages or stillbirths.
Only one of her children, a son, would survive infancy, and he died in The Whigs, who had played a key role in the Glorious Revolution, favored a constitutional monarchy, where Parliament had more power than the monarch. The Tories sought to uphold royal power, as well as the traditional dominance of the Anglican Church. As moderate Tories, they sided with the Whigs over the direction of the war in Europe, and put pressure on the Queen to include more Whigs in her government.
Queen Anne: Biography on Undiscovered Scotland
While performing tasks like handing the Queen her clothing and pouring water for her to wash her hands and feet, Abigail offered Anne attention and care without judgement or argument—unlike her domineering cousin. Sarah was furious when she found out about the wedding, as well as the fact that Anne had given Abigail a dowry from the privy purse.
By mid, both Sarah and her husband suspected that Abigail was using her influence over the Queen to further the agenda of her powerful Tory cousin, Robert Harley. Although Mary distrusted the Churchills, it was their influence that helped Anne finally decide to join with her sister and brother-in-law as they plotted to invade England.
On November 5, , William of Orange landed on English shore. Anne refused to support her father, instead taking the side of her brother-in-law. James fled to France on December 23, and William and Mary were hailed as the new monarchs. Even after years of marriage, William and Mary had no children to inherit the throne. Instead, they declared in that Anne and her descendants would reign after both of them died, followed by any children William might have if Mary predeceased him and he remarried. William and Mary dismissed them, but Anne publicly continued to support them, causing a final rift between the sisters.
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Mary died in , making Anne the heir apparent to William. Anne and William reconciled to a degree.
Topping up the Queen's chocolate
In , Anne suffered a pair of losses: her final pregnancy ended in miscarriage, and her sole surviving child, Prince William, died at age eleven. Because this left the succession in question — Anne was not well, and she was of an age where more children were all but impossible — Parliament created the Act of Settlement: if Anne and William both died childless, the succession would go to the line of Sophia, Electress of Hanover , who was a descendant of the Stuart line through James I. William died on March 8, , and Anne became queen regnant of England.
She was the first queen regnant who was married but did not share power with her husband as her distant relative Mary I did.
She was quite popular, emphasizing her English roots in contrast to her Dutch brother-in-law, and became an enthusiastic patron of the arts. Anne was actively involved in affairs of state, although she attempted to sidestep partisan politics. Ironically, her reign saw the gap between the Tories and the Whigs widen even further.
The most significant international event of her reign was the War of Spanish Succession, in which England fought alongside Austria and the Dutch Republic against France and Spain. England and its allies supported the eventually losing claim of Archduke Charles of Austria to the Spanish throne.
Anne supported this war, as did the Whigs, which increased her closeness to their party and distanced her from the Churchills. On May 1, , the Acts of Union were ratified, bringing Scotland into the kingdom and establishing the unified entity of Great Britain. Scotland had resisted, insisting on the continuation of the Stuart dynasty even after Anne, and in , her half-brother James attempted the first Jacobite invasion.
The invasion never reached land.
Biography of Queen Anne, Britain's Forgotten Queen Regnant
In subsequent years, the Whig government that supported the ongoing War of Spanish Succession grew unpopular, and although the new Tory majority had little interest in continuing to support the claim of Charles now Holy Roman Emperor , they also wished to halt the ambitions of the French Bourbons. Anne created a dozen new peers in order to get the necessary majority in Parliament to make peace with France in Although she vehemently supported the Hanoverian succession, rumors persisted that she secretly favored her half-brother.
She had a stroke on July 30, , and died two days later on August 1. She was buried beside her husband and children in Westminster Abbey.