|Queen Anne and her husband, Prince George of Denmark|
by Charles Boit
Royal Collection, Public Domain
Four deathsAt the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, four deaths dramatically changed the political landscape at home and abroad.
(a) On 30 July 1700 Anne’s only surviving child, William, duke of Gloucester (from smallpox). The result was the Act of Settlement of 1701, which settled the crown on the Electress Sophia of Hanover, the Protestant granddaughter of James I, and her heirs.
(b) Carlos II of Spain, 21 October 1700.
(c) James II, 6 September 1701: Louis XIV immediately recognised his son as James III and VIII. In effect, this was a declaration of war.
(d) William III, 23 February 1702. He was thrown from his horse when it stumbled on a molehill in Richmond Park. He caught a fever and died on 8 March. As Mary had died in 1694, Anne became queen.
|Sophia, Electress of Hanover|
Protestant heiress to the throne
The accession of Queen AnneAnne's 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 ('always the same'). 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 was firmly in control of her ministers.