Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Queen Anne: 1 Accession

The following posts will go through Anne's reign chronologically and will be put up as soon as I have time! Please scroll down for the latest posts.

The accession of Anne changed the domestic scene in ways that sharply focused attention upon the party basis of political life. Her reign saw a major war and five general elections: 1702; 1705; 1708; 1710; 1713.

Her accession was greeted with enthusiasm. A staunch supporter of the Church of England (shown in her setting up of Queen Anne’s Bounty in 1704), she took great pains to stress the fact that she was the granddaughter of the martyr, Charles I and she revived the ceremony of the royal touch which had lapsed under William. Her dynastic legitimacy initially took much of the wind out of the sails of English Jacobitism. Those who could not support her claim pinned their hopes on her brother’s succession after her death.

In contrast to William, Anne was a relatively uncontroversial character and, though she identified instinctively with the Tories, she did her best to stand above party. She addressed her first parliament as a patriot queen:
‘As I know my own heart to be entirely English, I can very sincerely assure you that there is not one thing you can expect or desire of me which I shall not be ready to do for the happiness or prosperity of England.’
She modelled herself on Elizabeth I, using her motto of 'semper eadem.' This made it difficult to mount a personal attack on the monarchy or the court. The common belief that she was a weak queen is the result of the duchess of Marlborough’s hostile comments. In reality, until her health collapsed at the end of her reign, she was an interventionist monarch with strong views and firmly in control of her ministers.

At the start of her reign she had close relationships with the duke of Marlborough and his wife (‘Mr and Mrs Freeman’) and Sidney Godolphin (‘Mr Montgomery’) her Lord Treasurer. (Anne called herself 'Mrs Morley'.) Marlborough and Godolphin (the ‘duumvirs’) dominated most of her reign.