ǫᴜᴇᴇɴs ᴏғ ᴇɴɢʟᴀɴᴅ ⏤elizabeth of york : 

Elizabeth of York (11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503) was queen consort of England from 1486 until her death. As the wife of Henry VII, she was the first Tudor queen. She was the daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III, and she married the king following Henry’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth which started the last phase of the Wars of the Roses. She was the mother of King Henry VIII. Therefore, she was the daughter, sister, niece, wife, mother and grandmother of successive Kings and Queens of England. The period of Henry VI’s readaption from October 1470 until April 1471 and the period between her father’s death in 1483, when she was 17, and the making of peace between her mother and her uncle Richard were violent and anxious interludes in what was mostly a peaceful life. Her two brothers disappeared, the “Princes in the Tower”, their fate unknown. She was welcomed back to court by her Uncle Richard III, along with all of her sisters. As a Yorkist princess, the final victory of the Lancastrian faction in the War of the Roses may have seemed a further disaster, but Henry Tudor knew the importance of Yorkist support for his invasion and promised to marry her before he arrived in England; this was an important move, which, however, failed to bring him the desired Yorkist support.[3] Her marriage seems to have been successful, though her eldest son Arthur, Prince of Wales, died at age 15 in 1502, and three other children died young. She seems to have played little part in politics. Her surviving children became a King of England and queens of France and Scotland; it is through the Scottish Stuart dynasty that her many modern royal descendants trace their descent from her.


Queens of England + Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818)

Charlotte was born in 1744, the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prince of Marow and Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen. According to diplomatic reports at the time of her engagement to George III, she received “a very mediocre education.”

George III was unmarried when he succeeded to the throne in 1760 and his family and advisors were anxious for him to marry. The seventeen-year-old Princess Charlotte appealed to him because she had been brought up in an insignificant German duchy and wouldn’t have experience of power politics of party intrigues. He instructed to Charlotte on her arrival in London “not to meddle” and she easily acquiesced.

Charlotte and George were married in September 1761 in the Chapel Royal by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Charlotte spoke no English on her arrival but quickly learned the language. She gave birth to her first child, the future George IV, in August 1762. She and her husband would eventually have 15 children, 13 of which survived into adulthood.

Along with her husband, Charlotte was a music connoisseur and specially honored German artists and composers to whom they were partial. Together they patronized a variety of craftsman including silversmiths, landscape designers, and painters. Charlotte herself was an amateur botanist and the explorers Captain James Cook and Sir Joseph Banks constantly brought her new species and varieties of plants which she ensured would be enriched and expanded. Her interest in botany led to the South African flower, the Bird of Paradise, being named Strelitzia reginae in her honor.

Besides her interest in patronizing the arts, Charlotte also founded orphanages and in 1809 patronized the General Lying-in Hospital for expectant mothers. It was later renamed the Queen’s Hospital and today is the Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital. The education of women was also important to her and her daughters were educated better than was usual for women of the time.

In 1788, her husband fell ill with what is thought to be porphyria and grew to be mentally unstable. His behavior was erratic and violent and though Charlotte’s visits to him were limited, he remained in her care. While her son George wielded the royal power as Prince Regent, Charlotte was her husband’s legal guardian from 1811 until her death in 1818. His illness became so severe that he could not know or understand when she died. He died a little over a year later.

After her death in 1818, Charlotte was buried at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. She is the second longest-serving consort in British history after the present Duke of Edinburgh. Today, there are places named after her in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America. (x)


Queens of England + Mary I of England (1516-1558)

Mary was born in February 1516, the only surviving child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. As a princess, she was well educated and by the age of nine could read and write Latin. Throughout her childhood, her father negotiated potential marriages with the Dauphin of France, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and Francis I. They were all broken off for various reasons.

Mary’s status was thrown into jeopardy when her father sought to divorce Catherine. By 1531, Catherine had been banished from court and Mary was forbidden to see her. In 1533 her parents’ marriage was declared legally void and Henry married Anne Boleyn. Mary was then deemed illegitimate and was styled “The Lady Mary” rather than Princess. Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth, took Mary’s place in the line of succession. Her household was dissolved and she was sent to join the household of her infant sister.

Mary refused to acknowledge Anne that was the queen or that Elizabeth was a princess, enraging her father. He kept her movements restricted and she was frequently ill, which the royal physician attributed to “poor treatment.” The relationship between Mary and Henry disintegrated to the point that they did not speak to each for three years. Despite both of them being ill, Henry still would not allow Mary to see her mother and she was inconsolable when Catherine died in 1536.

Anne Boleyn fell from favor in the same year of Catherine’s death and she was executed. Mary’s sister Elizabeth joined her in the downgraded status of “Lady” and was also removed from the line of succession. Henry soon married Jane Seymour who urged him to make peace with Mary. She was eventually bullied by her father into signing a document that would acknowledge him as head of the Church of England, acknowledge that her parents’ marriage was unlawful, and accept her illegitimacy. Reconciled on Henry’s terms, Mary was allowed to resume her place at court and was granted a household. In 1537, Jane gave birth to a son, Edward, and Mary was made godmother. When Jane died soon after the birth, Mary was the chief mourner at her funeral.

In 1539, Mary was courted by Duke Philip of Bavaria, but he was Lutheran and Mary a strict Catholic so the suit was unsuccessful. Her father married again in 1540 to Anne of Cleves but the marriage was annulled only months later. As a Catholic, she watched her father execute her old governess and godmother, the Margaret Pole, the Countess of Salisbury, on the pretext of a Catholic plot in 1541. After Henry’s fifth marriage to Catherine Howard failed and she was executed, Mary was invited to attend the royal Christmas festivities and serve as hostess since Henry was without a consort. It was her father’s last wife, Catherine Parr, that succeeded in convincing him to return both of his daughters to the line of succession after their brother with the Act of Succession 1544. However, Mary and her sister were both still legally illegitimate.

Henry died in 1547 and rule passed to Edward VI. His regency council attempted to establish Protestantism throughout the country but Mary remained faithful to Catholicism and defiantly celebrated traditional mass in her own chapel. She stayed on her estates for most of Edward’s demands and a reunion with both of her siblings at Christmas in 1550 ended in tears when he embarrassed her by publicly reproving her for ignoring his laws. Neither of them ever gave concessions to the other.

Edward died in 1533, and because he did not want Mary to succeed him and undo his religious reforms, he planned to exclude her from the line of succession. He ended up excluding both of his sisters from his will and instead named Lady Jane Grey as his successor. Knowing of his plans, Mary fled to her estates to find support from Catholic adherents and wrote to the Privy Council with orders for her proclamation as Edward’s successor. Mary and her supporters assembled a military force and the faction that supported Jane Grey collapsed. After nine days of being queen, Jane was deposed and eventually executed. Mary rode triumphantly into London in August 1553, accompanied by Elizabeth and a procession of over 800 nobles and gentlemen. She was crowned at Westminster Abbey in October, and became England’s first undisputed queen regnant.

In her first Parliament, Mary abolished her brother’s religious laws and had the marriage of her parents declared valid. Parliament later repealed the Protestant religious laws and returned the English church to Roman jurisdiction. This led to the revival of the Heresy Acts, and numerous Protestants were executed under it, a total of less than 300 people. These actions eventually led to her being called “Bloody Mary,” despite the fact that her father himself had executed tens of thousands of people during his reign.

In 1554, Mary wed Prince Philip of Spain, the only son of her cousin Charles V, and it was unpopular marriage with the English people. She desperately wanted an heir to keep the Protestant Elizabeth from succeeding her but she would only have two false pregnancies and no children. She was forced to accept that Elizabeth would be her lawful successor.

In January 1558, Mary’s reputation suffered a blow when she lost Calais, England’s last remaining possession on the European mainland after several months of conflict between Spain and France. Despite an ultimately ineffectual rule, Mary did begin policies of fiscal reform, naval expansion, and colonial expansion that would later be lauded as Elizabethan accomplishments.

She died in May 1558 during an influenza epidemic and her will stated that she wished to be buried next to her mother but she was interred in Westminster Abbey. Her sister would later be buried next to her. (x)


Queens of England + Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (1792-1849)

Adelaide was born in 1792, the daughter of George I, Duke of Saxe-Meinigen, and Princess Luise Eleonore of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Her father died when she was 11 years old and she, along with her younger siblings, was carefully raised by her mother and received an excellent education.

Adelaide’s marriage to Prince William, Duke of Clarence, was precipitated by the death of Princess Charlotte in 1817. She was the daughter of the Prince Regent and only legitimate grandchild of the ailing George III. This event led the other sons of the king to seek quick marriages in the hope of producing children who could inherit the throne. Parliament offered considerable allowances to any Royal Duke who married. This is what led the Duke of Clarence to marry Adelaide, the princess of an unimportant German state and twenty-seven years his junior in July 1818, a week after their first meeting. It was a double wedding with his brother Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and his bride Princess Victoria of Saxe-Cogburg-Saafeld.

By all accounts, the two became devoted to each other despite the circumstances of their marriage. Adelaide accepted William’s illegitimate children by the actress Dorothea Jordan as part of the family and had a positive effect on William’s behavior; he drank and swore less and became more tactful. Observers thought them parsimonious and their lifestyle simple. Adelaide and William had no surviving children. Between 1819 and 1822, Adelaide gave birth to two short-lived daughters, Charlotte and Elizabeth, and stillborn twin boys. Princess Victoria of Kent came to be acknowledged as William’s heir presumptive, as Adelaide had no more pregnancies after 1822.

Adelaide became queen in 1830 when George IV died and her husband succeeded the throne as William IV. They were crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1831 and while William despised the ceremony and behaved in mockery of it, Adelaide took it very seriously. She received praise for her “dignity, repose and characteristic grace.” She became beloved by the people for her piety, modesty, charity, and tragic childbirth history.

It is unknown how much Adelaide was able to politically to influence her husband and she never spoke about politics in public. She did give a large portion of her household income to charity and treated the heir presumptive, Princess Victoria, with kindness. She and William were both fond of the Princess but were frustrated in their attempts to have her closer to them by her mother, the Dowager Duchess of Kent. The Duchess refused to acknowledge Adelaide’s precedence and William, aggrieved at this disrespect to his wife, publicly called out the Duchess for her behavior.

When William became fatally ill in 1837, Adelaide stayed by his deathbed and didn’t sleep for ten days. She became the first queen dowager in over a century when he died and survived him by twelve years. She died of natural causes in the reign of her niece, Queen Victoria, in 1849. She is well-remembered today for her namesake city in Australia. Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, was named after her at its founding in 1836. The Queen Adelaide Club for women for is still active there and a statue of her stands in the foyer of the Town Hall. (x)


Queens of England + Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603)

Elizabeth was born in 1533, the only child of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She was a princess for the first two and half years of her life until her mother was executed and she herself was declared illegitimate. When Henry remarried Jane Seymour and she had a son, Edward, Elizabeth was placed into the household of her brother who was now the undisputed heir to the throne. Despite her illegitimate status, Elizabeth received one of the best educations for a woman of her generation. She could speak, read, and write in several languages, including French, Flemish, Italian, and Spanish.   

Henry VIII died in 1547, leaving Elizabeth’s brother Edward to become king at age 9. Elizabeth went to live with her father’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, and her husband, Thomas Seymour. Seymour engaged in inappropriate activities with Elizabeth and when he was caught in an embrace with her, Elizabeth was sent away. Seymour then plotted to marry Elizabeth after Catherine died but he was eventually arrested for this plot and for plotting to overthrow his brother who was the Lord Protector of Edward VI.

Edward VI died in July 1553 and his will swept aside the Succession to the Crown Act 1543 that had restored Elizabeth and her older sister Mary to the royal succession. This was mostly due to Mary’s Catholicism and the inability for Edward to only exclude one sister from his will. Lady Jane Grey was declared as his heir but Mary deposed her after nine days and Elizabeth rode with her triumphant sister into London.

There was little solidarity between Elizabeth and Mary during the latter’s reign. Mary wanted to stamp out the Protestant faith in which Elizabeth was educated and Elizabeth was forced to outwardly conform. When Mary’s initial popularity ebbed away, people looked to Elizabeth as a focus for their opposition. After Wyatt’s rebellion in 1554, Elizabeth was imprisoned for her participation though she protested innocence. But by October 1558 when Mary had fallen ill, Elizabeth was already making plans for her government and in November Mary officially recognized Elizabeth as her heir. Mary died in November 1558, and Elizabeth became queen at age 25. Her coronation took place in January 1559 at Westminster Abbey and she was received wholeheartedly by her citizens.

Elizabeth reinstated Protestantism in the beginning of her reign. However, the heresy laws were repealed and penalties for failure to conform were not extreme which allowed Catholics to privately practice their faith. Also from the beginning of her reign, it was expected that Elizabeth would marry but she never did. She insisted she was married to her kingdom and subjects, under divine protection.

In 1560, Elizabeth removed the French presence from Scotland which resulted in the Treaty of Edinburgh. When Mary, Queen of Scots returned to take power, the country had an established Protestantism and she refused to ratify the treaty. She would make a number of errors that forced to her abdicate the throne and eventually be imprisoned by Elizabeth in England for nineteen years. She was executed in 1587 for being a pretender to the crown.

Elizabeth won a great propaganda victory in 1588 when the English fleet defeated the Spanish Armada in one the greatest military victories in English history. Although Spain retained advantage in the war, this victory was viewed as a symbol of God’s favour and the nation’s inviolability under a “virgin queen.”

As she was unmarried and had no heirs, concern rose in the later years of Elizabeth’s reign as to who would succeed her. A negotiation was entered into with James VI of Scotland and he was recognised as her heir. She died in March 1603 and was interred in Westminster Abbey with her sister Mary. The Latin inscription on their tomb reads, “Consorts in realm and tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters in hope of resurrection.”

Her reign became known as The Golden Age and her 44 years on the throne provided stability and forged a national identity for England. (x)


Queens of England + Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821)

Caroline was born in 1768, the daughter of Charles William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and Princess Augusta of Great Britain. She was taught to understand to English and French but otherwise her education was lacking. According to her mother, Princess Augusta, all German princesses learned English in the hope that they would be chosen to marry George, Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales was Caroline’s first cousin as Augusta was the eldest sister of George III.

Caroline was engaged to the Prince of Wales in 1794, never having met him. He only agreed to marry her because he was heavily in debt and Parliament would increase his allowance if he married an eligible princess. The couple was unimpressed with each other from their first meeting. They were married in April 1795 at the Chapel Royal, St. James’ Palace. He was drunk at the ceremony, and hypocritically claimed she was not a virgin when they married, even though he had already been secretly married to Maria Fitzherbert.

Less than a year after the wedding in January 1796, Caroline gave birth to Princess Charlotte Augusta, who would be George’s only legitimate child. Days after Charlotte’s birth, George made a new will in which he left everything to Maria Fitzherbert and left one shilling to Caroline. Gossip was rampant about the troubled marriage and George was vilified while Caroline was portrayed as a wronged wife. She was openly cheered in public and gained plaudits for her charming familiarity and easy nature. He desired a separation and by August 1797, Caroline was living in her own private residence.

In 1806, a commission known as the “Delicate Investigation” was set up to examine Caroline on claims of infidelity and an illegitimate child. In the end it was determined that there was no foundation for the allegations but during the investigation Caroline was not allowed to see her daughter. George increased restrictions on seeing Charlotte when he became Regent in 1811, and Caroline fought back with a propaganda campaign supported by most of the public and her daughter. Jane Austen wrote of Caroline, “Poor woman, I shall support her as long as I can, because she is a Woman and because I hate her Husband.“

Unhappy with her situation in Britain, Caroline left in 1814 and moved to Italy. It was there in 1817 that she found out that her daughter had died in childbirth. She only found out from a passing courier because George refused to write to her. She became Queen of Great Britain in January 1820 when her husband succeeded his father as George IV. After another failed investigation into Caroline’s alleged adultery, George tried to divorce her through a bill in Parliament. However, he was so unpopular that the bill was withdrawn by the Tory government.

Caroline remained immensely popular with the public until her death in August 1821. Her popularity was such that it was decided her funeral procession should avoid London so it wouldn’t spark public unrest. This plain failed when the crowd accompanying the procession rebelled against this changed route and forced the procession through the city. She was eventually buried in Brunswick Cathedral. (x)


Queens of England + Anne, Queen of Great Britain (1665-1714)

Anne was born in 1665, the second daughter of James, Duke of York, and his first wife, Anne Hyde. Along with her older sister Mary, she was brought up in a separate establishment from her parents. On the instructions of their uncle Charles II, they were both raised as Protestants. Her mother died in 1671 and her father married Mary of Modena in 1673 after his conversion to Catholicism. Anne was third in the line of succession for many years after Mary and James.

Charles II chose Prince George of Denmark to be Anne’s husband and a marriage treaty was negotiated. James consented to the match and the two were married in 1683. Anne and George kept residence in England and though it was an arranged marriage they were faithful and devoted to each other. Anne’s first pregnancy ended with a stillborn but she later had two daughters, Mary and Anne Sophia.

Anne’s father ascended the throne in 1685 as James II & VII. She shared the concern of the English people when he moved to weaken the Church of England’s power by giving Catholics military and administrative offices. Anne and her family were the only members of the royal family attending Protestant services in England. When her father tried to get Anne to baptize her youngest daughter into the Catholic faith, she burst into tears.

Early 1687 was a difficult time for Anne. Within a matter of days, she miscarried, her husband caught smallpox, and their two daughters died from the same infection. While she and George were deep in grief, public alarm at James’ Catholicism increased with Mary of Modena’s pregnancy. In letters to Mary, Anne shared her suspicions that the queen was faking her pregnancy to introduce a false heir. The queen gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward, in June 1688. Anne was notably absent from the birth and despite witnesses, she and Mary continued to believe that the child was not their natural brother.

In November 1688, Anne’s brother-in-law William of Orange invaded England and deposed James. She had been forbidden to visit her sister but was aware of plans for the invasion through correspondence. Anne and George both wrote to William to approve his action. She showed no concern at her father’s plight. Mary and William ascended the throne as Mary II and William III and as they had no children, Anne and her descendants were next in the line of succession. In 1689, after a series of miscarriages and stillbirths, Anne gave birth to a son, William, Duke of Gloucester.

Tensions grew between the sisters when Anne requested a residence and an allowance, both of which Mary refused. Anne’s resentment became worse when William would not allow George to serve in the military in an active capacity. Mary and William feared that Anne’s independence would weaken their influence over her and allow her to set up a rival faction. Anne’s continued friendship with people that Mary did not approve of led to the complete dissolution of their relationship. When Anne gave birth to another son that shortly died, Mary visited her and they had an argument that led the sisters to never see each other again. Mary died of smallpox in 1694 and Anne became William’s heir apparent. They publicly reconciled and he restored her previous honors that Mary had taken away.

Anne’s son William died in 1700 at the age of eleven. Overwhelmed with grief, she ordered her household to observe a day of mourning every year on the anniversary of his death. To address the issue of succession that was now put in question, it was decided that the crown would pass to Protestant descendants of James VI & I. Other claimants who were closer to the throne were excluded for being Catholic.

Anne became queen when William died in March 1702 and was immediately popular. She was crowned in April at Westminster Abbey and had to be carried there in a sedan chair due to her gout. At the time of Anne’s ascension, Scotland was still an independent sovereign state where there remained a strong minority who wished to preserve the Stuart dynasty. After a series of disagreements, the Scottish and English parliaments both approved articles of union that united Scotland and England into the single kingdom of Great Britain.

Though preoccupied by health problems, Anne attended more cabinet sessions than any of her predecessors. Her reign provided stability and prosperity that allowed for the advancement of economics, politics, and the arts. The absence of constitutional conflict between monarch and parliament during her reign shows that she wisely chose ministers and exercised her prerogatives.

Anne died in 1714 from a stroke after a year of serious health calamities. She was buried beside her husband and her children in the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey. (x)


Queens of England + Mary of Modena (1658-1718)

Mary was born in 1658, the elder child of Alfonso IV, Duke of Modena, and Laura Martinozzi. She had an excellent education; she spoke French and Italian fluently, had a good knowledge of Latin, and would later master English.

Mary was sought as a bride for James, Duke of York, the younger brother and heir of Charles II of England. James was 25 years her senior, scarred by smallpox, and afflicted with a stutter. While initially reluctant, Duchess Laura eventually accepted the proposal on her daughter’s behalf and Mary and James were married by proxy in 1673. She received a cold welcome in England where the entirely Protestant Parliament disliked the news of a “Catholic marriage.” Both Mary and her husband were avowed Roman Catholics. She gave birth to their first child, Catherine Laura, in 1675 but she was only the first in a string of children that would die in infancy.

In 1678, Mary’s Catholic secretary was implicated in the Popish Plot which led to the Exclusionist movement that sought to bar the Catholic Duke of York from the throne. Their damaged reputation forced the Yorks into exile in Brussels. They returned to England when Charles II became ill and they feared that his illegitimate son would usurp the throne. Charles thought they returned too soon so Mary and James were then sent to Edinburgh where they stayed for the next few years. It was during this time that Mary was separated from her young daughter, Isabella, the only child of hers so far to survive infancy. When Isabella died in 1681 it sent Mary into a religious mania that worried her physician. She gave birth to another daughter in 1682, Charlotte Mary, who died only three weeks later.

In spite of the Exclusionist movement, James easily succeeded the throne as James II when Charles died in 1685. They had a join coronation ceremony and precedents were sought for Mary because a full-length joint coronation had not occurred since the ceremony performed for Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Mary’s health had still not fully recovered and people conjectured on who James would marry after she died.

Mary became pregnant again in 1687 and Protestants who only tolerated James because he had no Catholic heirs were unhappy with the news. When a son, James Francis Edward, was born, many Protestants chose to believe the child was illegitimate. It was purported that the child was snuck into the birth chamber as a replacement for Mary’s real but stillborn child despite the fact that the chamber was packed full of 200 witnesses, both Protestant and Catholic. James’ daughter from his first marriage, Mary, Princess of Orange, was one of the people that believed this. Several leading Whig nobles then issued an invitation for William of Orange, the Princess of Orange’s husband, to invade England. This signaled the beginning of the Glorious Revolution which culminated in James’ deposition. James and Mary went into exile in France and stayed at the expense of Louis XIV who supported the Jacobite cause.

Mary became a popular fixture at the French court and as there was no French queen or dauphine, she took precedence over all female members of the French court and royal house. She gave birth to her last child, Louise Mary, in 1692. When James died in 1701, Mary acted as nominal regent for her son until he was 16. Before her death from cancer in 1718, she saw her son forced from France and her daughter killed by smallpox. She died in poverty at the Convent of Visitations, Chaillot where her remains were interred. (x)


Queens of England + Mary II of England (1662-1694)

Mary was born in April 1662, the eldest daughter of James, Duke of York, and his first wife, Anne Hyde. Though her father later converted to Catholicism, she and her sister Anne were still raised as Anglicans at the command of their uncle Charles II. The sisters had their own establishment and were largely raised by their governess with only occasional visits to their parents. Her mother died in 1671 and her father remarried a few years later to a woman only four years older than she, Mary of Modena. As her father was Charles’ heir, Mary was second in the line to the throne for most of her childhood.

At the age of fifteen, Mary was betrothed to her cousin, the Protestant Stadtholder of Holland, William of Orange. Charles thought the match would improve James’ popularity among Protestants and pressured him to agree to it. Mary wept when she was told who she was to marry. She married William in St. James’ Palace in November 1677 and with him made a formal entry into The Hague in December.

Mary’s outgoing nature made her popular with the Dutch and her marriage to a Protestant was popular in England. William was often out on campaign but Mary became devoted to him. Within months of the marriage she was pregnant but suffered a miscarriage that may have permanently affected her ability to have children. She would suffer illnesses over the next few years that may also have been miscarriages. Her childlessness was the greatest source of unhappiness in her life.

Mary became heir presumptive when her father succeeded the throne as James II & VII. She and William were dismayed when James enacted a controversial religious policy that attempted to grant freedom of religion to non-Anglicans; Mary considered this action illegal. She was more disappointed when the Catholic King of France, Louis XIV, invaded Orange and her father refused to help. James also attempted to damage his daughter’s marriage by encouraging her staff to inform her that William was having an affair. Mary acted on the information but William denied it and she believed him. She dismissed her staff and sent them back to England.

When Mary of Modena gave birth to a son, James, in June 1688, rumors flew that it was not truly hers. Mary questioned Anne on the circumstances of the birth and her sister’s reply confirmed her suspicions that the child was not her brother. She believed it was a conspiracy by her father to secure a Catholic succession. In the same month, William received an invitation from the “Immortal Seven” to come to England with an army and depose James. He was reluctant at first because of Mary’s position but she convinced him that she didn’t care for political power and that she would do all that she could to make him king. William and his army invaded in November and the defeated James fled to France to live the rest of his life in exile.

Although she believed her husband’s actions necessary, Mary was upset by the circumstances of father’s deposition. William ordered her to appear cheerful on their arrival in London and as a result was viewed as being uncaring to her father’s plight. She was hurt more when James wrote a diatribe against her that criticized her disloyalty. Parliament offered the Crown to William and Mary as joint sovereigns with William taking precedence. They were crowned at Westminster Abbey in April 1689 as William III and Mary II.

From 1690 onward, William was frequently absent from England on campaigns. In his absence, Mary administered the government of the realm but she was still not keen to assume power. She was a firm ruler and even ordered the arrest of her own uncle, Henry Hyde, for plotting to restore her father. She was also extremely devout and many of her proclamations focused on combatting vice. She participated in matters of the Church as well—all matters of ecclesiastical patronage went through her. She promoted learning by endowing the College of William and Mary in present day Williamsburg, Virginia in 1693.

When Mary contracted smallpox in 1694, she sent away everyone who had not previously had the disease. She died on December 28 of that year and William, who had increasingly come to rely on her, was devastated. Jacobites considered her death divine retribution for breaking the fifth commandment (“honor thy father”) but she was widely mourned in England. Her funeral service was the first of any royal to be attended by all members of both of Houses of Parliament and she was buried in Westminster Abbey. (x)


Queens of England + Anne of Denmark (1574-1619)

Anne was born in 1574, the second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark and Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. Anne spent her early childhood with her maternal grandparents in Germany away from her father’s extravagant court where she had a frugal and stable environment. She returned to Denmark in 1579 with her older sister, Elizabeth, and her younger brother, the future Christian IV of Denmark. She had a happy upbringing in Denmark mostly due to her mother, who nursed all of her children through their illnesses herself.

Suitors from all over Europe sought the hand of Anne and her sister, including James VI of Scotland. By July 1589, Anne was betrothed to James and was reportedly thrilled about the match. The two were married by proxy in August and shortly thereafter Anne set sail for Scotland. Anne formally married James in November. She was crowned in May 1590 in a seven hour ceremony in the Abbey Church at Holyrood, the first Protestant coronation in Scotland.

The two at first were happy together but they soon found themselves at odds. From the beginning of the marriage, Anne was under pressure to produce an heir. The passing of two years with no pregnancy caused renewed Presbyterian libels on James’ preference for male company and there were whispers against Anne herself. There was great public relief when Anne gave birth to their first child in February 1594, Henry Frederick.

Soon after Henry’s birth, Anne and James battled for custody of their son. Anne suffered a miscarriage after becoming bitterly upset in a public scene in which James reduced her to rage and tears. When James left for London in 1603 to assume the English throne, Anne tried to gain custody of her son but she failed. She suffered another miscarriage after the failed attempt. Anne finally gained custody when she refused to join in London unless she was given their son and James gave in.

There were regular incidents of marital discord between Anne and James. In one confrontation, Anne shot and killed his favorite dog during a hunting session. After his initial anger, James smoothed things over with his wife by giving her a £2,000 diamond in memory of the dog, whose name was Jewel. Anne also took exception to his drinking and once confided to a French envoy, “the King drinks so much, and conducts himself so ill in every respect, that I expect an early and evil result.” James in turn argued with Anne over the composition of her household.

Anne adopted a cosmopolitan lifestyle in London while James preferred to stay away from the capital at his hunting lodge. After having seven children by 1607, they rarely lived together. Anne had narrowly survived the birth and death of their last child, Sophia, and her decision to have no more children added to the gulf between her and James. When their eldest son Henry died in 1612 it also added to the separation between them. Anne’s health soon deteriorated and she withdrew from public life. Her influence on her husband lessened as he became dependent on powerful favorites.

By 1617, bouts of Anne’s illness had become debilitating. She died in March 1619 at the age of 44 and with her until the end was her personal maid who had arrived with her from Denmark in 1590. She was buried in King Henry’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey and the catafalque placed over her grave was destroyed during the civil war. (x)