Saturday, May 1, 2010

It Came Wi' a Lass & Will Pass Wi' a Lass

In 1707 England & Scotland were deemed to be one kingdom under an Act of Union.  This had been previously proposed by Jemmy & met w/ a resounding um NO 100 yrs prior.  Since Wales had already been sucked into England's orbit w/ a similar act in Henry VIIIs time, this meant the entire island (plus all its little islands) became Great Britain.  Twas done mostly b/c the Scots hadn't been consulted about the Act of Settlement, were miffed, & threatening to restore that pesky Jacobite branch as well as the Auld Alliance.

My, ain't Scarlet timely, b/c this occurred on May Day, & tis!  Well, Happy Act of Union Day to you Brits!  Grab a streamer & don't sit right on that Maypole ROFL

So Anne has the distinction of being the last Queen of England, the last Queen of Scots, & the 1st monarch of Great Britain.  In addition to having that bitchin' line of furniture & Victorian houses LOL

Anne, painted after W & Ms accession, after producing the heir

Rumor had it that b4 Willie demised, Anne had written her father in an effort at reconciliation, asking his permission to succeed to the throne & stating she would consider making her half-bro her heir instead of that German branch of the family if Pops would send 10 yo James Jr on over to be raised at her court as a good little Protestant.  This was an ideal solution to the problem, esp w/ how rabidly Jacobite the Scots were, as religion was the main objection to the continuation of the male Stuart line.  James rolled his eyes & said um NO.  Then he demised of a brain hemorrhage from all that ranting about ungrateful daughters.  O, during the French Revolution some sans-culottes tore up the Paris church in which he was buried & you know by now what revolutionaries (& fat greedy kings dissolving monasteries) do w/ old royal bones.  So you can see his tomb, but he ain't in it anymore.  Why do peeps gotta destroy history like that?

Twas 5 yrs b4 the Act of Union that the gentleman in the little black velvet jacket did his work & Anne, whose succession was deferred in favor of her BIL even tho she was ahead of him, finally became queen.  Her 1st act was to appoint her BFF Sarah Churchill as Mistress of the Robes, the highest court position a chick could get (sans queen or princess, natch).

Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough

Anne enjoyed the usual nice coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Anne's coronation portrait

As you can see, my, didn't she get tubby in those 14 yrs sitting round waiting for her shot at the throne!  And she would get tubbier still.  She would give Unks the VIII a run for his money in the end.  Forensic historians mucking about in her medical history think that w/ all her childbearing difficulties (only 6 of her 18 pregnancies resulted in breathing offspring, & 3 of those, George, Charles, & another Mary, barely lived a day), her perpetually rosy cheeks (a butterfly rash?), & her sudden ballooning, she might have suffered from lupus.  Interesting, huh?  There's also peeps that are in the porphyria crowd as well, tho that don't necessarily make one the size of Kansas.  Or mayhap she had that RH factor thing, like Anne Boleyn possibly did.  Whatever, she definitely had something very medically wrong w/ her when one considers all those demised infants & how sickly were the kidlets that lived.  I seriously wonder if James II didn't catch the Frenchie pox at some pt.  DH George was never known to have any mistresses, but meh, he could've caught it at some pt as well as he was 11 yrs older than his DW.

George was apptd Lord High Admiral of England & whilst he was no Tom Seymour LOL, he seemed to be fairly competent in his position.  This was good as there would shortly be a nice war where naval support was necessary.

Immediately after Anne was crowned, the English got embroiled in what is called the War of the Spanish Succession.  In the colonies this was known as Queen Anne's War.  Even tho the drooling idiot king willed Spain to the Bourbons, there was a Hapsburg rellie or 2 out there still who were all indignant about it & twas decided to be on their side just to irk the Frenchies.  Marlborough won a huge victory at the battle of Blenheim & became a great hero & came home & started building himself a fabby palace called Blenheim to commemorate his good self.  Eventually this would be the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

Blenheim Palace

Y'all have Anne to thank for all that online © nonsense.  Prior to her reign, you could write books all you pleased, but as soon as you had them published, you lost all rights to em & the printer made all the profits after grudgingly shelling out a sm fee to the writer.  Anne's Statute, as tis called, gave © to the authors & not the publishers.  This was when novel-writing really began to explode b/c there were finally groats to be made off it for the peeps who did it.  A pair of classic English novels were published during her reign, Gulliver's Travels & The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

Under Anne's reign is where that incomprehensible British political system really starts. The 2 major parties at the time were the Tories & the Whigs. Anne was a Tory at heart, & put up w/ those pesky Whigs.

Anne & Sarah started to have a falling out over politics, as Sarah leaned more to the Whig persuasion.  Sarah was further infuriated that her cuz, Abigail Masham, a stereotypical poor rellie whom Sarah had taken into her household, then began cozying up to the queen.  The handwriting was kinda on the wall for Sarah when Anne's DH George demised aged 55 of a series of strokes. Sarah flew to Kensington Palace to comfort the queen & Anne glared at her & said go away & get me Abby!

Sarah had a nice rant about ungrateful rellies when Anne apptd Abby as Keeper of the Privy Purse.  This meant she was in charge of the queen's money.  Then Sarah herself was dismissed kicking & screaming from her own lucrative court position.  Anne never did allow her to return to court & Abby remained her BFF.
Then Anne's baby half-sister, Louisa, demised at the age of 20 from that pesky smallpox.
Louisa, youngest child of James II & Mary of Modena
Peeps sighed & were all wrong one, as James Francis Edward was still in disgustingly good health & eyeing the British throne now that he was a grownup.
James Francis Edward Stuart

Mary Beatrice sighed & went into a Frenchie convent.

Mary of Modena

That pesky war was dragging on & becoming increasingly unpopular, so Anne wanted to get out of it.  Alas, w/ this whole new 2-party system thingy, she did not have a majority in Parliament to vote in the proposed Treaty of Utrecht that recognized the Bourbon Philip as the new king of Spain as per the drooling idiot king's will.  So she hmmm'd some & went, I know, I know!  I shall pack the House of Lords! 
contemporary colored engraving of Anne
She looked em over & created 12 Tory supporters of the treaty peers of the realm all in the same day, incl Abby's DH Samuel, who was raised to a baron & made her Lady Masham instead of plain Mrs Masham.  Peeps was all gobsmacked at this audacity b/c no monarch had ever handed out so many peerages like candy b4 all at once.  This gave her the votes needed in the House of Lords to get out of the war & let the Frenchies & Hapsburgs fight amongst themselves.  This is how Great Britain got possession of Gibraltar, Minorca, St Kitts, & a humungous chunk of Canada, incl Newfoundland & godforsaken cold places near the North Pole in the Hudson Bay area like Rupert's Land (named for the smokin' hot rellie).
Rupert of the Rhine
just b/c I can LOL
Anne was getting ginormous & having the same toddling issues as Unks the VIII, as she was riddled w/ gout & rather whingy as you might imagine.  News came from Germany that her cuz Sophia, who had attained the prodigious age of 73 as queen in waiting, had demised.  Wouldn't that tick you off?  This meant by the Act of Settlement, Anne's heir was now Sophia's eldest son George, Elector of Hanover.  Her little bro, now 26, was not amused & waited avidly for reports on Queen Anne's failing health.
It seems Anne's gouty toes developed some sort of nasty red skin infection, prolly strep-related b/c that'll kill ya sans antibiotics, which still hadn't been invented.  Twasn't reported to be gangrene, at any rate, b/c that's black & yucky.  She had the demises aged 49 on the 1st of August 1714, fulfilling James Vs gloomy prophecy at the birth of MQOS.  The Stewart line had originated w/ the heirs of Marjorie Stewart during one of those periods where the Scots ran out of boys, & it was ending w/ Queen Anne b/c of stubborn Catholic males.
Anne was SO ginormous that there was no way she could be stuffed into a regular coffin & one had to be made specially for her great girth.  The thing was reportedly almost SQUARE, so that gives you an idea of how much she surpassed Henry VIII in size at the end.  She just swelled up like a whale.  I'm amazed there wasn't an autopsy done just to see why b/c that ain't normal.  Even w/ all those pregnancies she stayed relatively slim & then twas Bloat City all of a sudden.  She was hefted into Westminster Abbey for burial whilst peeps awaited the arrival of the 1st King of Great Britain.....

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