Queens Regnant: Anne, Queen of Great Britain

Anne of Great Britain

Born the daughter of James II and his first wife Lady Anne Hyde, she was not necessarily born to rule. She had an older sister, Mary, and by her father’s second marriage a brother (who displaced both her and her sister Mary in the succession) and a younger sister. Her father’s second marriage to the Catholic Mary of Modena was disliked by the English people, and the birth of a Catholic heir seemed to be the beginning of the end of father’s reign. He was deposed after a reign of only four years by the English people. He was eventually succeeded by her sister Mary and her brother-in-law and first cousin William III.

After Mary died, William ruled alone for some years but he never remarried, and because there were no children of his first marriage, he was succeeded by Anne in 1702. The Act of Union made her Queen of Great Britain and Ireland in 1707.

In 1683, Anne had married Prince George of Denmark, and the thing that struck me most when I was reading about Anne was reading about her many pregnancies. She got pregnant a couple of months after the wedding but was delivered of a stillborn child in May.  After this first child, she gave birth to living daughters in 1685 and 1686, but the children tragically died close together in February 1687. After two more miscarriages and another stillborn child, she was delivered of a boy, who was named William. He died at the age of 11 of either scarlet fever or smallpox. Anne had ten (!) more pregnancies after Prince William, but all ended in miscarriages or stillbirths. As she was the last person in the protestant line of succession, I can only imagine her anguish.

It wasn’t uncommon in the past to have miscarriages of stillbirths, due to the lack of medical knowledge.  I suppose most women expected it to happen, but the number of times her pregnancies went wrong must have been horrible for her.

I’m not sure if it was ever established why so many of her pregnancies ended in disaster. Perhaps she suffered from some undiagnosed illness. To me, that seems likely. So many tragedies seem particularly unlucky.

As the House of Stuart went extinct upon her death, she was succeeded by George I of the House of Hanover by the Act of Settlement of 1701.

Recommended media

Gregg, Edward (2001). Queen Anne. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09024-2. (UK & US)

Somerset, Anne (2012). Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-720376-5. (UK & US)

Waller, Maureen (2006). Sovereign Ladies: The Six Reigning Queens of England. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-6628-2. (UK & US)

For the want of an heir: the obstetrical history of Queen Anne

 



About Moniek 1086 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

2 Comments

  1. These families were so enbed I think it was Mother Nature’s way of getting rid of severe deformities. Just my 2 cents.

  2. It is thought that Queen Anne suffered from prophyria which often results in pregnant women having trouble going to term or having live births. This disease ran in the British (both England and Scotland) royal lines. Mary, queen of Scots had it, so did James VI & I and George III. It is thought, also, that prophyria gave rise to vampire legends because its sufferers have episodes of extreme sensitivity to sunlight.

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