Friday 1 August 2014

"A weary traveller": The Death of Queen Anne

Queen Anne (London, England, 6th February 1665, London, England, 1st August 1714)

Anne, Queen of Great Britain by Michael Dahl, 1705
Anne, Queen of Great Britain by Michael Dahl, 1705
It is a far from celebratory day in the salon as we mark the anniversary of the death of Queen Anne and the dawn of the Georgian era. The cousin of the man who would become George I, Queen Anne was only 49 when she died, ending a twelve year reign. She had endured the death of a husband and lost seventeen children through death, stillbirth and miscarriage, her health irreparably damaged as the years went on.

By the summer of 1714, Queen Anne was not in good health. She had spent much of the previous year in her bed afflicted by fevers so severe that the court and country began to whisper that death would soon be up on her. Against the odds she recovered only to be struck down again over Christmas, battling against her own frailty to maintain a political foothold with her ministers and particularly the willful and undermining Robert Harley, Lord Treasurer.

Determined not to be bettered by Harley, who treated the Queen with disrespect and ignorance, she dismissed him from his position in the last week of July 1714 and, already dangerously ill, insisted on attending late-night meetings of the cabinet which were intended to replace Harley and avoid a political upset. A third meeting was set for 30th July but Anne was destined not to attend, having been hit that very day by a stroke so severe that she was no longer able to speak.

She lingered on for a day and passed away at half past seven on 1st August, leaving her doctors to remark that death was nothing to Anne but a release from suffering. Buried alongside the husband and children who had predeceased her in Westminster Abbey on my birthday, 24th August, Queen Anne passed into history and the Georgian era dawned.

Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.

Pen and Sword
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

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