The Accession of Queen Anne


Anne was the Protestant full sister to Mary II, wife of William III, and she was crowned shortly after William’s death on 8 March 1702. Her marriage to Prince George of Denmark & Norway was arranged in the early 1680’s with a view to developing an Anglo-Danish alliance to contain Dutch maritime power. Her uncle (Charles II) unsuccessfully prosecuted no less than three wars against the Dutch during the 1660’s and 1670’s.

  • As a result, George was unpopular with his Dutch brother-in-law William of Orange, who was married to Anne’s elder sister, Mary. William and Mary became joint monarchs of Britain, with Anne as their heiress presumptive, in 1689 after the “Glorious Revolution” deposed James II and VII, the father of both Anne and Mary
  • Since Anne’s older sister (Mary) had moved to the Netherlands after her marriage to William of Orange, Protestant opposition to James II was therefore increasingly focused around Anne and George instead of Mary (then heiress presumptive, not Anne)

In her first speech to the English Parliament, on 11 March, she distanced herself from her late Dutch brother-in-law and said,

“As I know my heart to be entirely English, I can very sincerely assure you there is not anything you can expect or desire from me which I shall not be ready to do for the happiness and prosperity of England.”

Soon after her accession, Anne appointed her husband (Prince George of Denmark & Norway) Lord High Admiral, giving him nominal control of the Royal Navy.

  • Anne gave control of the army to Lord Marlborough, whom she appointed Captain-General.
  • Marlborough also received numerous honours from the Queen;
    • he was created a Knight of the Garter and was elevated to the rank of duke.
    • The Duchess of Marlborough was appointed Groom of the Stole, Mistress of the Robes, and Keeper of the Privy Purse.
  • Anne was crowned on St George’s Day, 23 April 1702

Anne was an amiable and dutiful Queen who presided over government without getting too involved in the disputes between the Whigs and the Tories. This was a marked change from the rest of her family (the Stuarts) who had fought bitterly with Parliament and fought (and lost) a civil war over its rights to rule. Most of the principal events of her reign are connected to the war of the Spanish Succession.

Anne’s reign was marked by the further development of a two-party system

  • In general, the Tories were supportive of the Anglican church and favoured the “landed interest” of the country gentry
  • The Whigs were aligned with commercial interests and Protestant Dissenters
    • As a committed Anglican, Anne was inclined to favour the Tories
      • Anne supported the Occasional Conformity Bill of 1702, which was promoted by the Tories and opposed by the Whigs. The bill aimed to disqualify Protestant Dissenters from public office by closing a loophole in the Test Acts, legislation that restricted public office to Anglican conformists.
        • The existing law permitted non-conformists to take office if they took Anglican communion once a year.
        • Anne’s husband, Prince George, was placed in an unfortunate position when Anne forced him to vote for the bill, even though, being a Lutheran, he was an occasional conformist himself.
      • The Whigs vigorously supported the War of the Spanish Succession
        • They became even more influential after the Duke of Marlborough won a great victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704
        • Many of the High Tories, who opposed British involvement in the land war against France, were removed from office
Queen Anne, at the time of her marriage - Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Queen Anne, at the time of her marriage – Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The eighteenth century began with a series of events in Europe making war inevitable as it was essential for England to have an Austrian Prince, rather than French, to ascend the Spanish Throne.

  • The Commander of the English Army, The Duke of Marlborough was arguably the best soldier ever produced by England and he soon routed a combined French and Bavarian army at Blenheim
  • Two years later he drove the French from the Netherlands following the victory at Ramillies
  • Instead of negotiating a treaty with France however England negotiated an Act of Union with Scotland, and in May 1707 the two parliaments were finally united
    • This uniting of the two kingdoms came to be called Great Britain and had as it’s symbolic flag the ‘Union Jack’
On 12 April 1606, the National Flags of Scotland and England were united for use at sea, thus making the first Union 'Jack'. Ashore however, the old flags of England and Scotland continued to be used by their respective countries.

On 12 April 1606, the National Flags of Scotland and England were united for use at sea, thus making the first Union ‘Jack’. Ashore however, the old flags of England and Scotland continued to be used by their respective countries.

When the red cross of England was put onto the flag of Scotland, a white border was added around the red cross for reasons of heraldry. (The rules of heraldry demanded that two colours must never touch each other.)

On 28th July, 1707, during the reign of Queen Anne, this flag was by royal proclamation made the National flag of Great Britain, for use ashore and afloat.

The Act of Union of 1707 resulted in a change in the Royal Arms, altering the design of the coinage

The Act of Union of 1707 resulted in a change in the Royal Arms, altering the design of the coinage

  • On the post-union coinage the English lion and Scottish lion are emblazoned per pale on the top and bottom shields.
  • The rose in the centre of the reverse of the gold coins is replaced by The Garter Star.

Despite shortages of coin, no coins were issued for Ireland during the reign of Queen Anne. English coins did not circulate in Ireland since they were, in theory, heavier and had a higher intrinsic value.

  • A full range of new coins were struck for England and Scotland
    • Gold Issues: Five Guineas, Two Guineas, Guinea, Half Guinea
    • Silver Issues: Crown, Half-crown, Shilling, Sixpence
    • Copper Issues: Farthing

In March 1708, Anne’s Catholic half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart, attempted to land in Scotland with French assistance in an attempt to establish himself as king

  • Anne withheld royal assent from the Scottish Militia Bill 1708 in case the militia raised in Scotland was disloyal and sided with the Jacobites. She was the last British sovereign to veto a parliamentary bill, although her action was barely commented upon at the time.
    • The invasion fleet never landed and was chased away by British ships commanded by Sir George Byng
    • As a result of the Jacobite invasion scare, support for the Tories fell and the Whigs were able to secure a majority in the British general election, 1708

Her most controversial and important piece of legislation would come in the year of her death: see link below

Blog Post – The Succession Crisis of Queen Anne 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s