Anne (Great Britain)

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Anne Stuart , painting by Michael Dahl , 1705

Anne Stuart (born February 6, 1665 in St James's Palace in London , † August 1, 1714 in Kensington Palace , London) was Queen of the Kingdom of Ireland from 1702 to 1714 , and Queen of both the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland from 1702 to 1707 and from May 1, 1707, after the unification of the two kingdoms, the first queen of the Kingdom of Great Britain . Anne was the last British Queen of the House of Stuart .

Historical classification

Anne's life was repeatedly shaped by state crises in connection with the succession to the throne , which were accompanied by far-reaching constitutional reforms. Anne's reign is largely marked by the development of the British cabinet system .

In 1688/1689, Anne's Roman Catholic father, James II, was ousted in the Glorious Revolution . He was followed jointly by her Anglican sister Maria II and her Calvinist brother-in-law Wilhelm III. to. Anne supported the bloodless overthrow of the government in which the father was overthrown.

None of the children of Mary II or Anne lived to see adulthood, so the dethroned Roman Catholic James II or his descendants could have reasserted claims to the British throne. The English Parliament enacted for this reason in 1701 a law ( Act of Settlement ), which is the House of Guelph allowed (Hannover), follow after the death of Anne on the English throne. No fewer than 57 Roman Catholic heirs to the throne were passed over, who would have had a greater claim to the English throne due to their descent. The Scottish Parliament initially refused to approve, but was persuaded to approve by measures such as trade restrictions that seriously damaged Scotland economically. The Act of Union of 1707, with which England and Scotland united to form Great Britain ( Realunion ), was a result of the negotiations that followed. The result of this development was that not only the descent was decisive for the British succession, but also the Protestant creed.

Sarah Churchill , Duchess of Marlborough, on an undated painting by Sir Godfrey Kneller
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough was Anne's most successful military leader; Portrait of Sir Godfrey Kneller , around 1705
Sidney Godolphin, Viscount Rialton and 1st Earl of Godolphin, was First Lord of the Treasury under Anne ; Portrait of Sir Godfrey Kneller, around 1705

With the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688/89, England also switched to the anti-French camp. During almost the entire reign of Anne, England was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession , as a member of the Hague Grand Alliance , in which England tried to limit France's influence in Europe on the side of Holland , Prussia , Hanover and the Emperor. In parallel, England experienced an economic and cultural prosperity that the greatest manifestation of England's power and influence since the reign of Henry V was. With the special peace treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Great Britain left this alliance, but thereby laid the foundation for the expansion of the British Empire in the 18th century. Anne herself contributed little to it; she was neither educated nor smart and passed her time with gossip and card games. Her biographers describe her as a mentally clumsy, stubborn and rather shy woman. At the same time, she was aware of her role as head of state and showed a high sense of duty towards her office. She suffered greatly from the violent arguments in her cabinet shortly before her death - some of her biographers even blame her for her death.

Anne's long-time friend Sarah Churchill , her husband John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough , and Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl of Godolphin , who was Lord High Treasurer from 1702 to 1710, had significant political influence . The future British Prime Minister, Nobel Prize winner for literature and descendant of Sarah and John Churchill, Winston Churchill therefore coined the sentence "Sarah directed the Queen, Marlborough directed the war and Godolphin directed Parliament."

Historian Ulrike Jordan wrote about Anne's personal situation when she took office:

“The psychological prerequisites that Princess Anna brought into her reign appear to the later viewer in their interaction ... almost insurmountably difficult: Fundamental religious and political contradictions in the ruling family had largely isolated Anna humanely. Alienated in particular from her father and half-brother - both in exile - she found intellectual and emotional security primarily in two areas: on the one hand in the field of politics through the principle of constitutional behavior and acceptance of the role and power limitation of the crown, on the other hand through the Build close emotional bonds. Here, above all, Anna's extremely happy relationship with her husband, Prince George of Denmark, must be mentioned, who was distinguished by his human qualities, but not his politically rather pale profile. The marriage between the eighteen-year-old Anna and the twelve-year-old Georg was concluded in 1683 and was the main source of personal support for 25 years - in addition to close friendships with trusted ladies-in-waiting. "

- Jordan, p. 178 f

Anne's relationship with her ladies-in-waiting Frances Apsley , Sarah Churchill and later Abigail Masham was so close that biographies repeatedly speculate about a homosexual relationship between them. However, there is no real evidence for this.

Anne of Great Britain went down in history as Good Queen Anne - this term also expresses the military and political successes as well as the economic boom that Great Britain experienced during her reign.


Early years

Anne with her husband
Anne at the age of 20

Anne was the second daughter of James, the Duke of York and later James II. Her mother was Lady Anne Hyde , daughter of Edward Hyde , an influential English politician. Her uncle ruled as Charles II. Anne and Mary were the only children from their parents who survived into adulthood. However, Anne suffered from an eye disease, so that she was sent to France as a toddler to receive medical treatment there. She lived there initially with her grandmother, Queen Henrietta Maria , and then with her aunt Henrietta Anne , the Duchess of Orléans.

In 1670 Anne returned to England from France. In about 1673 she met Sarah Jennings, later Churchill, who, as a young girl, had been admitted to the court of the Duke of York's second wife, Maria Beatrice of Modena . Despite the age difference of five years, the two girls formed a close friendship that would last for many years and that led to Sarah Churchill becoming the most influential adviser to the future Queen of England.

In 1672 it became public knowledge that Anne's father had converted to the Roman Catholic faith. At the direction of Charles II, Anne and her sister Maria continued to be brought up in the Protestant faith. The king also arranged for Anne to marry the Protestant Prince George of Denmark , brother of the Danish King Christian V , on July 28, 1683. Both spouses were dynastically related to each other through Frederick II of Denmark and Norway . Her sister Maria had the Protestant Wilhelm III as early as 1677 . married from Orange-Nassau .

When Charles II died in 1685 - he converted to Roman Catholicism on his deathbed - Anne's father ascended the English throne as King James II.

Jacob was keen to pass his throne on to a Roman Catholic successor and promised Anne that she would become his heir to the throne if she professed to be a Roman Catholic. The deeply religious Anne, however, stuck to her Anglican faith. Jacob II continued to send her books and essays on the Catholic faith, but refrained from more intensive attempts at conversion.

William III. von Orange-Nassau, King of England - thanks to Anne's consent, he was allowed to continue to rule alone after the death of his wife Maria

James II. Attempts to recatholize England, to restore an absolute monarchy and to return England to an alliance with France met with little approval from the British public. But since the king was old and Mary, the heir to the throne, was Protestant, the conviction had spread in England that there was only a transitional phase here. This assessment changed when Jacob's second wife, Maria Beatrice von Modena, gave birth to a son in 1688 and thus a potential Roman Catholic heir to the throne. There were rumors that the child had been foisted in order to bring England back to the Catholic side. In the “Glorious Revolution” that had been in preparation for four years, the unpopular and despotic Jacob II was ousted towards the end of 1688 ; With a small army, his son-in-law William of Orange and his daughter Maria from the Netherlands landed on the coast of England. James II fled England to France on December 23, 1688. Anne renounced her father's support and joined the alliance partners around Wilhelm. The British Parliament met and decided that James II had abdicated by fleeing the Kingdom of England.

The English crown was offered to the couple Wilhelm and Maria together and accepted by them. Both were crowned as equal sovereigns on April 11, 1689, although Wilhelm had no dynastic claim to the English throne. The formula of the oath both spoke was also new. While English monarchs have hitherto usually undertaken to respect the laws they enacted, Wilhelm and Maria promised to "govern the people of this Kingdom of England ... in accordance with the provisions adopted in Parliament and the laws and customs of the same" ("to govern the people of this kingdom of England ... according to the statutes in parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same "). This began the shift in power in favor of parliament, which in the long term ended in a constitutional monarchy . The " Bill of Rights " passed by parliament from 1689 also regulated the succession to the throne. Under the influence of her friend Sarah and her husband John Churchill, Anne had agreed that Wilhelm could wear the English crown even if his wife Maria died before him. Princess Anne and her descendants would succeed him on the throne, William's descendants would only be entitled to the English throne after them.

Reign of Wilhelm III. and Maria II.

First years

In gratitude for his role in the “Glorious Revolution”, Wilhelm and Maria named John Churchill Earl of Marlborough . The Churchills' subsequent treatment, however, was not quite as friendly. 1692 condensed for Wilhelm III. the suspicion that Churchill was still in contact with James II, who was in French exile. Churchill was dismissed from all offices and even briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London . Sarah Churchill, now one of Anne's ladies-in- waiting, was forbidden to appear at the royal court. Angry, Princess Anne left her royal residence and moved to Syon House . As a result, she was stripped of her honor guard and the royal palace guards were not allowed to salute her husband.

In 1694 Maria II died of smallpox , Wilhelm III. was thus British sole ruler. Anne's popularity was always greater than that of the married Wilhelm III. been. To improve his standing among the English people, he restored Anne with all the honors she deserved and allowed her to reside at St James's Palace. The reappointment of John Churchill to all of his offices in 1695 was another attempt by Wilhelm III to improve relations with Anne. In fact, Anne publicly demonstrated her support for Wilhelm's government. However, her brother-in-law did not trust her completely. For example, he refrained from appointing her as his regent during his military ventures on mainland Europe.

Basic order - the "Act of Settlement"

Anne and her husband, Prince Georg, experienced a number of personal blows during this time. By 1700 the future queen had been pregnant at least 17 times; She miscarried twelve times or gave birth to a dead child, one of which was twins. Of the five children she bore alive, four did not live to see their second birthday. William, Duke of Gloucester , the only son to survive the toddler phase, died of smallpox on July 29, 1700 at the age of eleven .

William III. and Maria II likewise had no surviving children; Anne was thus the heir to the throne and at the same time the last living person in the line to be eligible for the English throne under the Bill of Rights. With her death, this line would die out and her father, the dethroned Roman Catholic James II, and his descendants from their second marriage could have claimed English rule for themselves again. To prevent this, the adopted English Parliament the basic order ( Act of Settlement ) . This law regulated, among other things, that in the event of the death of Anne and Wilhelm III. without hereditary descendants, the right of succession to the throne would pass to Sophie von der Pfalz and her descendants. Sophie von der Pfalz descended from Jacob I through her mother Elisabeth Stuart , the so-called Winter Queen (Elisabeth of Böhmen) . There were a number of people who were more closely related to the ruling English royal family than Sophie von der Pfalz, but they were all of the Catholic faith.

Anne would have preferred that the succession to the throne had been given to her father and his descendants. However, because of the need for a Protestant successor, she resigned herself to the Act of Settlement . However, when her father died in 1701, she wore mourning clothes. On the other hand, she did not develop a warm relationship with her half-brother James Francis Edward Stuart , the son of Jacob II and thus his heir.

First years of rule

Wilhelm III died in 1702; Anne succeeded him on the English throne - as regulated in the Act of Succession. Physically she was already severely impaired at this point. The countless pregnancies and gout had ruined her body. She was carried to the coronation in a sedan chair.

Almost at the same time as Anne took office, the War of the Spanish Succession broke out. The War of the Spanish Succession was the military dispute over the question of whether the grandson of Louis XIV of France Philip of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou (French Philippe de Bourbon , Spanish Felipe de Borbón ), had a right to the Spanish succession. Philip had been installed as heir to the previous King of Spain, Charles II (as Philip V), but most of Europe opposed this succession because it would have made France's zone of influence on mainland Europe too big. The War of the Spanish Succession lasted almost to the end of Anne's reign and had a major impact on both foreign and domestic politics.

Blenheim Palace , built by John Vanbrugh , was Anne's royal gift to John Churchill for his victory in the Battle of Höchstädt

Shortly after her enthronement , Anne appointed her husband Lord High Admiral, and John Churchill was given command of the army. Churchill also received a number of honors, including the most exclusive order in England, the Order of the Garter , and was made Duke of Marlborough . Sarah Churchill, Anne's long-time childhood friend and now Duchess of Marlborough, was named Mistress of the Robes - the highest office open to a woman in the English royal court at the time.

Anne's first cabinet , headed by Godolphin, consisted mostly of Tories . The Whigs - who, unlike the Tories, strongly supported the English participation in the War of Spanish Succession - gained significantly in influence after John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, brought about a decisive victory for the English nation at the Battle of Höchstädt in 1704 . The victory was followed by a number of others. Due to the influence of the Duke, almost all of the Tories in the Cabinet were replaced by Whigs. Lord Godolphin, though a Tory, formed a close alliance with Marlborough. Although Lord Godolphin was nominally the head of cabinet, it was ultimately Marlborough who, along with two secretaries of state ( Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland , and Robert Harley ), determined English politics. Also nepotism was Marlborough not strange; both Lord Godolphin's son and Lord Sunderland were married to daughters of Marlborough.

Ruler of Great Britain

In addition to the War of the Spanish Succession, attempts to amalgamate England and Scotland into one kingdom shaped politics during Anne's early reign. When the English Parliament passed the "Basic Order" ( Act of Settlement ) in 1701 , it had not previously been voted on with the Scottish Parliament, which wanted someone from the House of Stuart to be succeeded to the throne . The Scottish Parliament passed the " Act of Security ": Should the Queen die without an offspring, Scotland could choose its own monarch on the basis of this regulation , provided he was of Protestant and royal descent. It was unlikely that Scotland would choose someone identical to the English as monarch. Despite initial resistance, Anne could not refuse to approve the Act of Security , as the Scottish Parliament threatened to withdraw the Scottish army from Marlborough's army and not to levy taxes. Since the English Parliament feared that an independent Scotland would revive the old alliance with France, the English Parliament responded with the " Alien Act " in 1705. It allowed Scots to impose significant restrictions on trade with Scotland Declare foreigners and thereby limit their right to own property in England. The English Parliament had made it unmistakably clear that these measures would be implemented unless Scotland repealed the Security Act or united with England. The Scottish envoys agreed to unification with England on July 22, 1706 and the Scottish Parliament approved this decision on January 16, 1707. On May 1, 1707 England and Scotland became the Kingdom of Great Britain, Anne was now ruler of a united kingdom.

The long-standing, close relationship between Anne and Sarah Churchill deteriorated in 1707. Nobel laureate in literature and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill , a descendant of John and Sarah Churchill, wrote:

“Around this time [1707] Sarah's relations with the Queen entered a precarious stage. She was made the scapegoat by her mistress for the Whigs' intrusion into the cabinet. Anna hated the Whigs from the bottom of her heart, but her ministers, with only half of the Tory Party supporting her, saw no way of continuing the war [against France] without the Whigs. Sarah lost the Queen's friendship because she felt it was her duty to advise her on government policies that were consistent with Parliament. At the same time a rival appeared. As Sarah grew older, and the duties of a great lady who ruled more than a cabinet minister, weighed on her, she sought the constant strain of the personal service to the Queen that had filled so many years of her life revoke. Anna's friends didn't have it easy. She required her companions to be around her all day and to play cards with her until late at night. Sarah was looking for a way to get rid of the burden of this constant being together. In Abigail Hill , a poor relative, she found a suitable second occupation. She introduced her to the life of the queen as a ' maid ' or maid . After a while the new attendant won the queen's affection. Sarah felt relieved, spent more time in the country and devoted herself to her family. "

- Churchill, p. 76ff

Abigail Hill, cousin of the Duchess of Marlborough and married to courtier Samuel Masham since 1707 , was also related to one of Anne's Whig ministers. Robert Harley began influencing the Queen's politics through Abigail Masham. Both Lord Godolphin and John Churchill then pursued his dismissal, which they succeeded in 1708. A group of five Whigs - Lord Sunderland, Thomas Wharton , John Somers, Charles Montagu and Robert Walpole - began to influence British politics and became known as The Junta. Harley still managed to exert influence as the Queen's private advisor.

Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark, died on November 8, 1708. His command of the British fleet had never been welcomed by the Whig leadership. Even after he was on his deathbed, some Whigs tried to get his discharge out of office. Anne had to turn to John Churchill to prevent this from happening. After the death of her husband, Anne broke away from Sarah Churchill even more and turned more to Abigail Masham. The friendship between Anne and Sarah Churchill ended in 1709.

Late years

The Whigs' disempowerment came very quickly after the costly War of the Spanish Succession became increasingly unpopular with the English public. Robert Harley took advantage of this change in sentiment, particularly during the upcoming elections. Eligible voters were particularly angry about the Dr. Henry Dingverell, a churchman who was a member of the Tories. He attacked the Whig government because, in his opinion , it showed too great tolerance towards religious deviants (so-called dissenters ). He was then sued for defamation. The Whigs, however, failed to get the judge to deliver the sentence they wanted: Sachverell was only banned from preaching for three years, and by no means the prison sentence many Whigs had hoped for. In the 1710 election, a dissatisfied population voted by a large majority for a Tory government.

John Churchill was still too influential to be removed from office. However, his relatives lost their offices when the Tories came to power. Godolphin was released on August 7, 1710; Robert Harley now presided over the ministers. The new Tory government tried to negotiate a separate peace treaty for Great Britain in the War of the Spanish Succession. In their view, an unconditional Habsburg victory in this war would damage British interests just as much as a victory for the French. The Tories were therefore ready to allow a grandson of the French king to hold the Spanish throne. For the Whigs, on the other hand, the idea of ​​handing the Spanish throne to a Bourbon was unbearable. The Tories had an unrestricted majority in the House of Commons , but that was not the case in the House of Lords . To sabotage the peace plan, the Whigs formed an alliance with Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham , and his Tory allies in the House of Lords. Forced to act, Queen Anne and her ministers dismissed John Churchill and transferred the command of the British troops to James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde . Anne also nominated twelve new peers in a single day. Such a number of elevations to the nobility was unprecedented. Elizabeth I had raised fewer people to the nobility than Anne in a single day during her almost fifty-year reign. With the new appointments, however, the majority of the Whigs in the House of Lords were eliminated; the peace treaty was now achievable.

Great Britain's participation in the War of the Spanish Succession ended with the Peace of Utrecht . Philip V , a grandson of Louis XIV , was allowed to remain on his throne and keep a large part of the Spanish colonies in South and North America. The rest of the Spanish sphere of influence was divided up: Great Britain received Gibraltar and Menorca and a number of former French colonies on the North American continent were awarded.

Death and succession

George I of Great Britain - Anne's successor to the British throne
Statue of Anne Stuart in front of St Paul's Cathedral in London

James Francis Edward Stuart ("The Old Pretender"), son of James II. And Catholic half-brother of Anne, had repeatedly taken initiatives, Anne on the throne as James III. to follow. Whenever Anne fell ill, there was speculation in London's coffeehouses about how far he was with his preparations to land on the British Isles and thus start a civil war. Anne herself had not shown much support for Electress Sophie von Hannover , who had been Heiress Presumptive since the Act of Settlement in 1701 . Visits from her or her son - who was the likely future ruler due to Sophie's old age - she declined. The Electress died in June 1714, and less than two months later Anne also became seriously ill. Her last days were not very dignified. The quarrel between her ministers continued into her death room. Shortly before she fell into a coma on July 30, Anne appointed a new head of government at the urging of her councilors. Meanwhile, Whig supporters, committed to the Law of Succession and the nation's commitment to Protestantism, were preparing to take up arms. The council also made its preparations.

“Effective measures were taken to secure the Hanoverian succession to the throne. Messengers were sent in all directions to call every officer and officer to his post. The fleet was mobilized under the command of a Whig, the Earl of Berkeley, and was ordered to patrol the Canal and watch the French ports. Ten battalions were recalled from Flanders. The garrisons were armed and the militia alerted. The Dutch were reminded of their contractual obligations. Everything was prepared to secure the accession of the Elector of Hanover as Georg . […] When Queen Anna took her last breath on August 1st at 7.30 am, it was clear that there would be no papism , no controversial succession to the throne, no French bayonets and no civil war. "

- Churchill, p. 107

On August 23, the late Queen was buried at night in Westminster Abbey . While there are no more grave monuments to commemorate Good Queen Anne today, the white marble monument that her long-time confidante Sarah Churchill erected at Blenheim Palace still stands .

Queen Anne Style

A building and furniture style ( English Queen Anne Style ) was named after the British Queen Anne, but it should not be confused with the architectural style of the same name, Queen Anne Style , which emerged from 1870 .

Characteristic for the classical baroque of the Queen Anne style of the early 18th century is calm, restrained elegance and balanced symmetry . The style designation mainly refers to the country house architecture of the time, mostly built by anonymous builders, whose buildings are designed as simple brick buildings with ashlar structure without great architectural effort.

When Queen Anne Churches , the group is referred to by churches in London, the law adopted after 1711 for the construction of fifty new churches emerged.

Children with George of Denmark

Anne and her son Wilhelm, Duke of Gloucester

Between 1684 and 1700 Anne was pregnant 17 times, but mostly suffered stillbirths or miscarriages . Of five children born alive , four died in infancy or early childhood. Wilhelm , the designated heir to the throne , died shortly after his 11th birthday.

  • Stillbirth of a daughter († * May 22, 1684)
  • Maria (June 12, 1685 - February 18, 1687)
  • Anne Sophia (22 May 1686 - 12 February 1687)
  • Miscarriage († January 30, 1687)
  • Stillbirth of a son († November 1, 1687)
  • Miscarriage († April 26, 1688)
  • Wilhelm (August 3, 1689 - August 10, 1700) Duke of Gloucester
  • Maria († October 24, 1690)
  • Georg († April 27, 1692)
  • Stillbirth of a daughter († April 2, 1693)
  • Stillbirth of a daughter († * January 31, 1694)
  • Stillbirth of a daughter († February 28, 1696)
  • Stillbirth of a son († * September 30, 1696)
  • Stillbirth of a son († April 4, 1697)
  • Stillbirth of twins († * December 1697)
  • Stillbirth of a son († * September 25, 1698)
  • Stillbirth of a son († * February 4, 1700)

See also


  • Alexander Gauland : The House of Windsor . Siedler Verlag, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-88680-534-4 .
  • Ulrike Jordan: Anna (1702-1714) . In: Peter Wende (ed.); English kings and queens . CH Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-43391-X .
  • Winston Churchill: history. Volume III. The age of revolutions . Scherz & Coverts Verlag, Stuttgart 1957.
  • Anne, Queen . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . 11th edition, Cambridge University Press, London 1911.
  • Marita A. Panzer: England's Queens. From the Tudors to the Windsors . Piper Verlag, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-492-23682-0 .
  • David Brontë Green: Queen Anne . Scribner, New York 1971.


Web links

Commons : Anna (United Kingdom)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Anna Eunike Röhrig : Mistresses and Favorites - A Biographical Handbook , MatrixMedia Verlag GmbH, 2010, ISBN 978-3-932313-40-0 , p. 12
predecessor government office successor
Wilhelm III / II. Queen of England
Queen of Scotland
merged to form the Kingdom of Great Britain
Wilhelm I. Queen of Ireland
George I.
New title created Queen of Great Britain
George I.