A brief note from our sponsors…
Princess Anne, part 1, was brought to you by a pot of coffee in the middle of the night and a cat who kept waking me up by sleeping on my face. Princess Anne, part 2, is sponsored by cheap wine from Lidl and some really tasty gouda cheese crackers.
It’s time for a quick recap.
In Part 1, Anne Stuart is born and spends her childhood imitating a crying tomato. Her uncle, King Charles II, dies with no heirs, making Anne’s father King James II. Anne gets married to a kindly anti-Viking from Denmark. James’ flirtation with Catholicism gets him forcibly removed from the English throne after only 3 years. Anne’s sister and brother-in-law ascend the throne in his place, and Anne becomes the new heir presumptive to the crown of England. Not bad for being born a woman in early modern Europe, eh?
Here’s part 2.
A Waiting Game
Anne Stuart was extremely popular in the 1690s. She was expected to replace William and Mary as Queen of England one day, and that made her top of mind in Virginia throughout the last days of the 17th century.
In 1691, a very large Lower Norfolk County in southeast Virginia was split in two pieces. One part became Norfolk County (eventually Chesapeake), the other part became Princess Anne County – the precursor of Virginia Beach.
Many other American places were named for Anne around the same time, especially in Maryland and Virginia. (Annapolis, anyone?)
Aside from her newfound popularity, Anne spent the 1690s mostly removed from politics. Despite her status as heir, the co-monarchs William and Mary didn’t really include Anne in the decision making of the realm.
Anne and her husband George had a quiet life in London with their only living son, George. Anne was still struggling with miscarriages and stillbirths, of which there were at least ten between 1689 and 1700.
Friends said there was nothing more moving than to see the Queen and her husband mourning together as the little coffins mounted up. Sometimes they would weep together. Other times they just sat in silence hand in hand. It was unimaginably awful. To this day, no one really agrees on the reason behind [Anne’s fertility struggles].5
Despite the horror at home, Anne was known for her charm, her obstinacy, her fun-loving spirit, and her weight. Her statue sits outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in London; a contemporary commented “it was fitting she was depicted with her rump to the church, gazing longingly into a wineshop.”6
She sounds like a good time.
Queen at Last
Anne’s sister Mary died in 1694. Mary’s husband William died in 1702 in a riding accident. William wasn’t a well-loved King. More than a few of his subjects were spotted saluting the horse that toppled him.7
Anne became the first Queen Regnant since Elizabeth I. This was somewhat controversial, and not for the reasons you might think: Government ministers worried that when the time came, her chronic ill health would make her physically incapable of the job. To 17th century eyes, Anne was gigantic – both in height and weight. Whether because of her weight, or her reported gout, Anne’s joints were in constant pain.8 Her mobility was so bad that she hobbled around Kensington Palace in a sedan chair.
Accordingly, the new queen’s ministers were fearful of being at the mercy of a sickly woman. They soon realized there was no reason to worry. Shortly after her “Sunshine Day” of ascension, Anne appeared before Parliament for the first time. She was a smash.
According to one eyewitness, “Never any woman spoke more audibly or with better grace.”… [She was] resplendent. She wore the crown, the star and garter, and a magnificent gown of red velvet lined with ermine and edged with gold galloon.9
Her lifelong rosacea was interpreted as bashfulness, which the Parliamentarians viewed as especially charming.10 After giving a heartfelt speech about her loyalty to England and her wishes for the prosperity of its people, she was compared to Elizabeth I.11
It was good that Parliament adored her. She was about to experience her first trial by fire.
How to Go to War in 60 Days
Only 2 months after Anne became queen, Europe erupted in war. After years of baffling Christendom by continuing to live, the inbred King of Spain had died childless. His closest heir was also an heir to the French throne – creating the terrifying possibility of a new European Empire.
England, Holland, and Austria fought together to prevent France and Spain from forming this new, Super-Catholic Superpower. The War of the Spanish Succession was one of the first world wars, and it dominated the rest of Anne’s reign until finally being settled in 1714.
Anne – who had never demonstrated any interest nor aptitude for warfare – now found herself trying to lead an army.
She chose the best possible route: she delegated the war effort to people who knew what they were doing. She consulted experienced admirals, generals, and diplomats.13 Soon, the British were winning victories.
This became the hallmark of Anne’s ruling style. She knew that her own experience was too limited, so she found and listened to subject matter experts and made decisions based on their recommendations.
In Part 3, Queen Anne settles the succession on a distant German prince and united England and Scotland under one flag.
5 “Stuarts to Hanoverians.” Fit To Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History, series 1, episode 2, BBC Two, April 2013. Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAQ2SrKFfBg.
6 Somerset, Anne (2012). Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion. London: HarperCollins.
7 “Stuarts to Hanoverians.” Fit To Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History, series 1, episode 2, BBC Two, April 2013. Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAQ2SrKFfBg.
8 Saxbe, W. B. Jr. “LISTERIA MONOCYTOGENES AND QUEEN ANNE.” Pediatrics, vol. 49, no. 1, 1972. American Academy of Pediatrics News Gateway, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/49/1/97..info.
9 Bucholz, R.O. (1993). The Augustan Court: Queen Anne and the Decline of Court Culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
10 Possibly the best moment in the History of Rosacea.
11 Green, David (1970). Queen Anne. London: Collins.
12 Gargarilla, Pedro. “Enfermedades de los reyes de España. Los Austrias : de la locura de Juana a la impotencia de Carlos II el Hechizado” La Esfera de los Libros S.L., 2005.
13 John B. Hattendorf, “English Governmental Machinery and the Conduct of War, 1702–1713.” War & Society 3.2 (1985): 1-22.
Curtis, Gila; introduced by Antonia Fraser (1972). The Life and Times of Queen Anne. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.