A to Z of the Age
Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland. Anne was the younger daughter of James, Duke of York, later James II, and his Protestant first wife Anne Hyde. Anne married the Protestant Prince George of Denmark in 1683, they had several children although only one, William, survived infancy. When William III and Mary II ascended the throne as joint rulers in 1689, Anne agreed to postpone her own right of succession should Mary predecease William. The death in 1700 of her only surviving child, William, Duke of Gloucester, resulted in the 1701 Act of Settlement. This declared the Hanoverian line successors to the throne, as the nearest Protestant relatives. Anne's close friendship with Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough and her husband, helped Marlborough in his position as commander in chief of the armies, but Anne's quarrels with Sarah also aided Marlborough's fall from grace. Anne's husband, George, died in 1709, and Anne was increasingly plagued by illness. She died in 1714, two weeks after Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and the throne passed to Sophia's son who succeeded as George I.
Beachy Head, Battle of
This took place off Beachy Head, Sussex on 29th June 1690. The French admiral, de Tourville put to sea with a fleet of 78 vessels. Off Beachy Head he met with an Anglo-Dutch fleet, commanded by Torrington,. The worst of the action fell on the Dutch who lost six ships, and Torrington withdrew the fleet to the safety of the Thames estuary, thus losing command of the English Channel.
Blenheim, Battle of
This took place near the Bavarian village of Blenheim (Blindheim) on the north bank of the River Danube on the 13th August 1704. In France and Germany it is known as the Battle of Hochstadt. John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, marched his army from the Low Countries to the Danube to link up with his allies under Eugene of Savoy. The army Marlborough commanded numbered 56,000, a mixture of British, Germans and Austrians. The opposition was a 60,000-strong French and Bavarian force under Marshal Tallard. The battle was decided when Tallard's centre gave way under Marlborough's charge, as Eugene pushed forward on the right flank. The French and Bavarians lost 38,000 men while the British and allies lost 12,000.
Eugene of Savoy, Prince (1663-1736)
Military commander. Eugene's first battle was in 1683, against the Turks at the siege of Vienna, in the service of Leopold of Austria. By the age of twenty nine was an imperial field marshal. His most important battles were Zenta (1697), Peterwardein (1716) and Belgrade (1718) against the Turks; and Turin (1706), and with Marlborough, Blenheim (1704); Oudenaarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709) against the French.
Grand Alliance, War of the
Also known as the War of the League of Augsburg, this lasted from 1688-97. The League of Augsburg was formed in 1686 and changed its name to the Grand Alliance when Britain joined in 1689. The war started with the French invasion of the Palatinate in 1688. France on one side fought against the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the United Provinces. The Treaty of Ryswick ended the war.
Hougue, Battle of La
Naval battle fought off St Vaast la Hougue, on the Cotentin peninsula of Normandy, northern France, from the 17th-23rd May 1692. A French fleet of 44 ships under de Tourville engaged an Anglo-Dutch fleet of 99 ships under Russell. The French were chased into the bay of La Hougue, where fifteen of their fleet were destroyed.
League of Augsburg, War of the
See Grand Alliance, War of the
Malplaquet, Battle of
This took place in northern France, on the border with Belgium, north of the village of Malplaquet on the 11th September 1709. In August 1709 Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy took Tournai and moved on to besiege Mons. Marshal Villars, was ordered to raise the siege, and with an army of 80,000 men, took up a strong position. Marlborough advanced with 110,000 allied troops. Villars was wounded in the battle and Boufflers, who had taken command, eventually fell back on Le Quesnoy, having lost 17,000 men to the Allies' 25,000.
Marlborough, John Churchill, 1st duke of (1650-1722)
Military commander. Churchill joined the army with a commission in the foot guards in 1667 and saw his first service at Tangier until 1670. By the accession of James II in 1685, he reached the rank of lieutenant general, but three weeks after the landing of William of Orange he transferred his allegiance from James to William. In 1692 he was imprisoned in the Tower of London on suspicion of being implicated in the intrigues to restore James II, and although he was quickly released he remained out of favour at court, and did not serve in the War of the Grand Alliance. In 1701 William III, appointed Marlborough to be, in effect, his military successor. On her accession, Queen Anne confirmed the appointment. Marlborough led ten campaigns during the War of the Spanish Succession. His most important battles were Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenaarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709). At home political changes resulted in the dismissal by Queen Anne of Marlborough's supporter, Sidney, Earl of Godolphin. After the Whig successes in the election of 1710 Marlborough found himself isolated, and in December 1711 he was dismissed. He took no further part in public life under Anne, and although restored to favour under George I, he lived in retirement up to his death.
Mary II, Queen (1662-1694)
Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland. Mary was the elder daughter of James, Duke of York, later James II, and his Protestant first wife Anne Hyde. Mary married her first cousin William of Orange in 1677, the match was promoted by Charles II, but opposed by her father, who had by that time converted to Catholicism and objected to her marrying a Protestant. She supported her husband when he sailed to England in 1688, at the invitation of several politicians, to overthrow her father. William and Mary were declared joint rulers in February 1689, and to safeguard William's position should Mary die before him, her sister Princess Anne agreed to postpone her right to succeed. Mary died of smallpox in 1694.
Oudenarde, Battle of,
This took place near the town of Oudenarde in eastern Flanders, now in Belgium on 11th July 1708. When French forces under the Duke of Burgundy and Marshal Vendôme laid siege to Oudenarde, the Duke of Marlborough marched against them with 78,000 English, Dutch, and German troops. The left of the British allied army in the battle, commanded by Marshal Overkirk, and the right, commanded by Prince Eugene of Savoy, pressed in on the flanks, while Marlborough's infantry advanced in the centre. Over 6,000 French soldiers died, a further 7,000 were captured.
Ramillies, Battle of
This took place near the village of Ramillies, north of Namur, and now in Belgium on 23rd May 1706. The British allied army was commanded by the Duke of Marlborough, and the French army by Villeroi. Both armies were roughly equal, at between 50,000 and 70,000 men each. The fighting continued until dawn on the 24th, by which time Villeroi had only half his army intact. French losses were over 13,000, while allied losses were less than 4,000.
Ryswick, Treaty of
This treaty signed on 20 September 1697 ended the War of the Grand Alliance.
Spanish Succession, War of the
Lasting from 1701 to 1713 this war was fought between France, who favoured the accession to the throne of Spain of Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV of France, and England, Holland, Prussia, and Austria, who favoured the claim of Archduke Charles of Austria. The Treaty of Utrecht ended the war.
Tourville, Anne-Hilarion de Cotentin, Comte de (1642-1701)
Naval commander. Tourville entered the Royal Navy in 1666 and took part in Louis XIV's war against the Dutch, 1672-78. In 1689, at the outbreak of the War of the Grand Alliance, Tourville broke the English blockade of Brest, for this he was promoted to vice admiral and naval commander in chief. Off Beachy Head, Sussex, on July 10, 1690, he secured a victory over an Anglo-Dutch fleet, causing panic in London. In 1692 Tourville fleet was defeated at the Battle of La Hogue. He retired from the navy after the war ended in 1697.
Utrecht, Treaty of
Actually the series of treaties, that ended the War of the Spanish Succession. In the Treaty between Britain and France, the French agreed to the Hanoverian succession to the English throne. Britain agreed to the accession of Philip of Anjou as king of Spain, on the condition that Spain and France would never be united. Britain also received Gibraltar, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the Hudson Bay territories.
Vendome, Louis-Joseph, Duc de (1654-1712)
Military commander. Vendôme entered the French Army in 1672 and had risen to the rank of lieutenant general by the outbreak of the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-97). He distinguished himself in the victory over the allies at Steenkirke (1692) and was made commander in Catalonia in 1695; two years later he captured Barcelona. He was appointed to the command in northern Italy in 1702, were he fought Prince Eugene in the indecisive Battle of Luzzara. He took Vercelli in 1704 and defeated Prince Eugene at Cassano in 1705. In 1706 Vendôme was transferred to Flanders, where he was defeated by Marlborough and Prince Eugene, at Oudenaarde, in 1708. After his failure to relieve the siege of Lille he was recalled by Louis XIV and temporarily disgraced. In 1710, Vendôme was made commander of the army of King Philip V of Spain. He recaptured Madrid and forced the surrender of the British general James Stanhope at Brihuega. The next day he won a major victory over the Austrian forces at Villaviciosa. He was completing the reconquest of Catalonia when he died.
William III (1650-1702)
King of England, Scotland and Ireland, Prince of Orange. Stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland. William was the only child of William II of Orange and Mary Stuart, eldest daughter of Charles I, and was born eight days after his father's death. Twenty years of republican rule then ensued in Holland, the upbringing of William being left to his mother and paternal grandmother. After an Anglo-French attack on Holland in 1672 the Dutch removed the republican government and William became the effective ruler. In 1677 William married his cousin Princess Mary, the elder daughter of James, duke of York. In 1688 William was invited to rescue "English liberties", after the birth of a male catholic heir to James II. William landed at Lyme Bay and support for James II collapsed. James fled into exile. William was not willing to serve as Mary's consort, so in February 1689 Parliament offered them the throne as joint rulers William then needed to consolidate his position as king. A Jacobite uprising under Viscount Dundee was defeated after Killiecrankie in July 1689. The subjugation of the Highlands led in 1692 to the massacre of Glencoe. The campaigns in Ireland took longer, as James had taken possession of most of Ireland. Derry was besieged, holding out for the Protestant cause until it was relieved in July 1689. The following year, 1690, William won a decisive victory at the Battle of the Boyne. The War of the Grand Alliance was also a concern, with defeats at Steenkirke in 1692 and Neerwinden in 1693. Mary's death from smallpox in 1694 had a great effect on him. He survived an assassination plot in 1696. In 1702 he horse stumbled over a molehill and he broke his collar bone, within a fortnight he was dead.