Six decades of travel with the Timelord

History Revealed - - FRONT PAGE - ANNE SOM­ER­SET Lady Anne Som­er­set is a his­to­rian who spe­cialises in the Tudor and Stu­art monar­chies. Her book Queen Anne: The Pol­i­tics of Pas­sion (Harper Collins, 2012) is an in-depth biog­ra­phy of the life of the last Stu­art.

Q Why is Anne of­ten over­looked as a monarch?

A One mun­dane rea­son for Anne not be­ing bet­ter known is that when stu­dents study the Tu­dors and Stu­arts, Anne’s reign comes at the fag-end of the pe­riod, and of­ten the time to fo­cus prop­erly on the sub­ject is lack­ing. Stud­ies of the reign tend to con­cen­trate on the Duke of Marl­bor­ough’s [John Churchill’s] vic­to­ries in the War of the Span­ish Suc­ces­sion, for which Anne is given no credit, and that Great Bri­tain ef­fec­tively first be­came a ma­jor power dur­ing her reign is not as­cribed to her. She is per­haps best known for her and all other tragic this has as­pects his­tory over­shad­owed of as her a mother, life. She lacked glam­our and charisma, presided over a pretty dreary court and was cer­tainly the least colour­ful Stu­art. On the other hand, it is also ar­guable that she was the most suc­cess­ful mem­ber of the dy­nasty, but spec­tac­u­lar fail­ure would per­haps have made her more mem­o­rable.

Q How did the losses of her chil­dren af­fect her reign?

A The fact that many as the Anne would pri­mary had have func­tion failed re­garded in what of fe­male roy­alty – to se­cure the suc­ces­sion by pro­vid­ing a di­rect heir – less­ened her pres­tige. Af­ter the death of her son in 1700, Anne was so emo­tion­ally shat­tered that she with­drew from the world, but on her ac­ces­sion to the throne “con­sid­er­a­tions of the pub­lic good ... dragged her out of a re­tired life that suited her so greatly”. But her tragic his­tory in­evitably shaped her char­ac­ter, and she made no se­cret of the sad­ness that still haunted her. Her re­la­tions with her Hanove­rian heirs pre­sump­tive were com­pli­cated by her sense of per­sonal loss. For the first few years of her reign, Anne still clung to the hope that she would pro­duce a child of her own, and the in­sen­si­tive de­mands of Sophia of Hanover to be given of­fi­cial recog­ni­tion as Anne’s suc­ces­sor in­fu­ri­ated the Queen – im­ply­ing that it was out of the ques­tion that she would have an­other baby. sur­vived, imag­ined If Anne’s no that son one Anne Wil­liam would han­kered had have to re­in­state her half-brother James in the suc­ces­sion, and the Whigs would have been un­able to create the im­pres­sion – preva­lent by the end of her reign – that the Protes­tant set­tle­ment was in dan­ger.

Q Was she an ef­fec­tive ruler?

A The as­sump­tion that Anne was a weak and in­ef­fec­tive ruler is without foun­da­tion. She did not suf­fer from a be­lief that be­cause she was a woman she was au­to­mat­i­cally un­fit­ted to wield power, and was not pre­pared to al­low her male min­is­ters to im­pose their will on her on that ac­count. De­spite her lack of train­ing, she adapted to the de­mands of sovereignty re­mark­ably well. Her great aim was to pre­vent any one po­lit­i­cal party from be­com­ing dom­i­nant, at the ex­pense of the monarch’s power, and on the whole, she achieved this. She held out against the Whigs tak­ing per­ma­nent con­trol of gov­ern­ment, but when she dis­missed her Whig min­is­ters, she also re­sisted al­low­ing the Tories to mo­nop­o­lise power. At her death, monar­chi­cal power was handed largely in­tact to her suc­ces­sor. Q What was her last­ing legacy? A It is some­times al­leged the in­ter­ests that Anne of dam­aged her coun­try by bring­ing the War of the Span­ish Suc­ces­sion to a pre­ma­ture close, mean­ing that France re­mained more pow­er­ful – and more of a threat to Bri­tain – than would have been the case if Marl­bor­ough had been per­mit­ted to in­flict a re­sound­ing de­feat on the en­emy. But, con­versely, if the war had con­tin­ued for longer, Bri­tain might have been bankrupted by the strug­gle, and rev­o­lu­tion and so­cial un­rest could have en­sued. de­picted who throne Al­though longed to as her Anne a to half-brother se­cret be­queath is of­ten Ja­co­bite, her James, She should this be is grossly cred­ited un­fair. with the fact that at her death, the crown went not to a Catholic Stu­art with ab­so­lutist ten­den­cies, but to the Protes­tant Hanove­ri­ans who, for all their flaws, had to work with Par­lia­ment. Anne has some claim to be re­garded as Bri­tain’s first con­sti­tu­tional monarch, and de­serves recog­ni­tion for her role in en­sur­ing that Bri­tain re­mains a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy to this day. The fact that Anne did not con­fer the ti­tle of King on her hus­band changed for ever the po­si­tion of Queens Reg­nant, en­sur­ing that their power to rule in their own right was for­mally es­tab­lished.

The 1704 Bat­tle of Malaga was the largest naval bat­tle of the War of the Span­ish Suc­ces­sion

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