Biography

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, was born 24 June 1650 in Ashe House, Devon, England, United Kingdom to Winston Churchill (1620-1688) and Elizabeth Drake (1620-1698) and died 16 June 1722 Cumberland Lodge, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom of unspecified causes. He married Sarah Jennings (1660-1744) 1 October 1678 .

General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1st Prince of Mindelheim, 1st Count of Nellenburg, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, KG, PC (26 May 1650 – 16 June 1722 O.S.[lower-alpha 1]) was an English soldier and statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs. From a gentry family, he served first as a page at the court of the House of Stuart under James, Duke of York, through the 1670s and early 1680s, earning military and political advancement through his courage and diplomatic skill.

Churchill's role in defeating the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685 helped secure James on the throne, but he was a key player in the military conspiracy that led to James being deposed during the Glorious Revolution. Rewarded by William III with the title Earl of Marlborough, persistent charges of Jacobitism led to his fall from office and temporary imprisonment in the Tower of London. William recognised his abilities by appointing him as his deputy in Southern Netherlands (modern day Belgium) before the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701 but it was not until the accession of Queen Anne in 1702 that he secured his fame and fortune.

Marriage to Sarah Jennings and her relationship with Anne ensured Marlborough's rise, first to the Captain-Generalcy of British forces, then to a dukedom. As de facto leader of Allied forces in the Low Countries, his victories at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709), ensured his place in history as one of Europe's great generals.

His wife's stormy relationship with the Queen, and her subsequent dismissal from court, was central to his own fall. Incurring Anne's disfavour, and caught between Tory and Whig factions, Marlborough was forced from office and went into self-imposed exile. He returned to favour with the accession of George I to the British throne in 1714, but a stroke in 1716 ended his active career.

Marlborough's leadership of the Allied armies fighting Louis XIV from 1701 to 1710 consolidated Britain's emergence as a front-rank power, while his ability to maintain unity in the fractious coalition demonstrated his diplomatic skills. He is often remembered by military historians as much for his organizational and logistic skills as tactical abilities. However, he was also instrumental in moving away from the siege warfare that dominated the Nine Years' War, arguing one battle was worth ten sieges.

Dukedom of Marlborough

Arms of Churchill

Duke of Marlborough is a title of English Peerage created by Queen Anne in 1702 for John Churchill the noted military leader. The name of the dukedom refers to Marlborough in Wiltshire. A good number of their descendants have married into many of the other noble hours of England.


Ashe House/Early Life

Artistic rendoring of Ashe House in Musbury.

Ashe House, in the parish of Musbury in the county of Devon, is an historic estate of the Tudor style. Long the residence of the ancient Drake family, the heir of which remarkably was always called John, only one excepted, for ten generations.] It was formerly believed to have been the birthplace of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, though he was certainly baptized there.

Churchill was the second but oldest surviving son of Sir Winston Churchill (1620–1688) of Glanvilles Wootton, Dorset and Elizabeth Drake, whose family came from Ash, in Devon.[1] Winston served with the Royalist Army in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms; he was heavily fined for doing so, forcing his family to live at Ash House with his mother-in-law.[2]

Blenheim Palace

Exterior of a large English Baroque palace fronted by lawns

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace, built between 1705 and 1722 for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), is the principal residence for the family of the Duke of Marlborough. It is one of England's largest homes, and the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is the final resting place of several members of the family.

Tomb of the 1st Duke of Marlborough in the palace chapel 1733, cost £2,200 designed by William Kent sculpted by John Michael Rysbrack

With the exception of the 10th Duke and his first wife, the Dukes and Duchesses of Marlborough are buried in Blenheim Palace's chapel. Most other members of the Spencer-Churchill family are interred in St. Martin's parish churchyard at Bladon, a short distance from the palace.

The palace chapel, as a consequence of the Duke's death, now obtained even greater importance. The design was altered by the Marlboroughs' friend the Earl of Godolphin, who placed the high altar in defiance of religious convention against the west wall, thus allowing the dominating feature to be the Duke's gargantuan tomb and sarcophagus.

Dismissal and disgrace

Princess Anne 1683 by Willem Wissing. When Mary died childless in 1694 (O.S.), Anne, her sister, became heir apparent.

William III recognised Marlborough's qualities as a soldier and strategist, but the refusal of the Order of the Garter and failure to appoint him Master-General of the Ordnance rankled with the ambitious Earl; nor did Marlborough conceal his bitter disappointment behind his usual bland discretion.[3] Using his influence in Parliament and the army, Marlborough aroused dissatisfaction concerning William's preferences for foreign commanders, an exercise designed to force the King's hand.[4] Aware of this, William in turn began to speak openly of his distrust of Marlborough; the Elector of Brandenburg's envoy to London overheard the King remark that he had been treated – "so infamously by Marlborough that, had he not been King, he would have felt it necessary to challenge him to a duel".[5]

Since January 1691 Marlborough had been in contact with the exiled James II in Saint-Germain, anxious to obtain the erstwhile King's pardon for deserting him in 1688 – a pardon essential for the success of his future career in the not altogether unlikely event of a Jacobite restoration.[6] James himself maintained contact with his supporters in England whose principal object was to re-establish him upon his throne. William was well aware of these contacts (as well as others such as Godolphin and the Duke of Shrewsbury), but their double-dealing was seen more in the nature of an insurance policy, rather than as an explicit commitment.[7] Marlborough did not wish for a Jacobite restoration, but William was conscious of his military and political qualities, and the danger the Earl posed: "William was not prone to fear", wrote Thomas Macaulay, "but if there was anyone on earth that he feared, it was Marlborough".[8]

High treason

The nadir of Marlborough's fortunes had not yet been reached. The spring of 1692 brought renewed threats of a French invasion and new accusations of Jacobite treachery. Acting on the testimony of one Robert Young, the Queen had arrested all the signatories to a letter purporting the restoration of James II and the seizure of William III. Marlborough, as one of these signatories, was sent to the Tower of London on 4 May (O.S.) where he languished for five weeks; his anguish compounded by the news of the death of his younger son Charles on 22 May (O.S.). Young's letters were eventually discredited as forgeries and Marlborough was released on 15 June (O.S.), but he continued his correspondence with James, leading to the celebrated incident of the "Camaret Bay letter" of 1694.[9]

Reconciliation

Mary's death on 28 December 1694 (O.S.) eventually led to a formal but cool reconciliation between William III and Anne, now heir to the throne. Marlborough hoped that the rapprochement would lead to his own return to office, but although he and Lady Marlborough were allowed to return to court, the Earl received no offer of employment.[10]

In 1696 Marlborough, together with Godolphin, Russell and Shrewsbury, was yet again implicated in a treasonous plot with James II, this time instigated by the Jacobite militant John Fenwick. The accusations were eventually dismissed as a fabrication and Fenwick executed – the King himself had remained incredulous – but it was not until 1698, a year after the Treaty of Ryswick brought an end to the Nine Years' War, that the corner was finally turned in William's and Marlborough's relationship.[10] On the recommendation of Lord Sunderland (whose wife was a close friend of Lady Marlborough), William eventually offered Marlborough the post of governor to the Duke of Gloucester, Anne's eldest son; he was also restored to the Privy Council, together with his military rank.[lower-alpha 2] When William left for Holland in July, Marlborough was one of the Lords Justices left running the government in his absence; but striving to reconcile his close Tory connections with that of the dutiful royal servant was difficult, leading Marlborough to complain – "The King's coldness to me still continues".[11]

War of the Spanish Succession

Europe in 1700; Marlborough fought principally in the Low Countries.


In the late 17th and early 18th century, the single most important theme in European politics was the rivalry between the House of Habsburg and the House of Bourbon.[12] In 1665, the infirm and childless Habsburg Charles II became the King of Spain. Spain was no longer the dominant global power it once was but remained a vast global confederation, with possessions in Italy, the Spanish Netherlands, the Philippines and large parts of the Americas. It proved remarkably resilient; when Charles died in 1700, it was largely intact and had even expanded in areas like the Pacific.[13] Its possession could change the balance of power in favour of either France or Austria.[14][15]

Attempts to partition the Empire between the French and Austrian candidates or install an alternative from the Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty failed. When Charles died, he left his throne to Louis XIV's grandson who became Philip V of Spain on 16 November 1700. However, this was on condition Philip renounce his claim to the French throne; Louis' decision to ignore this once again threatened French domination over Europe and led to the Grand Alliance being reformed in 1701.[16]



Children



Offspring of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and Sarah Jennings (1660-1744)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Harriet Churchill (1679-bef1698)
Henrietta Churchill, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough (1681-1733) 19 July 1681 Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom 24 October 1733 Harrow, Middlesex, England Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin (1678-1766)
Anne Churchill (1682-1716) 28 February 1682 Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom 15 April 1716 Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (c1674-1722)
Francis Churchill (c1684-)
John Churchill (1686-1703)
Elizabeth Churchill (1686-1714) 1686 Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom 22 March 1714 Scroop Egerton, 1st Duke of Bridgewater (1681-1745)
Mary Churchill (1689-1751) 15 July 1689 14 May 1751 John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu (1690-1749)
Charles Churchill (1690-1692)










Siblings

Further reading

See also


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir John Barrington
Member of Parliament for Newtown
1679
With: John Holmes
Succeeded by
Lemuel Kingdon
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Carlisle
First Lord of the Treasury
1702–1710
Succeeded by
The Earl Poulett
Military offices
New title Colonel of The King's Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons
1683–1685
Succeeded by
Viscount Cornbury
Preceded by
The Earl of Feversham
Captain and Colonel of the
3rd Troop of Horse Guards

1685–1688
Succeeded by
The Duke of Berwick
Preceded by
The Duke of Berwick
Captain and Colonel of the
3rd Troop of Horse Guards

1689–1692
Succeeded by
Viscount Colchester
Preceded by
The Lord Dartmouth
Colonel of The Ordnance Regiment
1689–1692
Succeeded by
Hon. George Douglas-Hamilton
Vacant
Title last held by
The Duke of Monmouth
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
1690–1691
Succeeded by
The Duke of Leinster
Preceded by
William Seymour
Colonel of The Duke of Marlborough's Regiment of Foot
1702–1704
Succeeded by
William Tatton
New title Captain-General of the British Army
1702–1711
Succeeded by
The Duke of Ormonde
Vacant
Title last held by
The Duke of Leinster
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
1702–1708
Vacant
Title next held by
The Duke of Ormonde
Preceded by
The Earl of Romney
Master-General of the Ordnance
1702–1712
Succeeded by
The Earl Rivers
Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards
1704–1712
Succeeded by
The Duke of Ormonde
Preceded by
The Duke of Ormonde
Captain-General of the British Army
1714–1717
Vacant
Title next held by
The Duke of Cumberland
Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards
1714–1722
Succeeded by
The Earl Cadogan
Vacant
Title last held by
The Duke of Hamilton
Master-General of the Ordnance
1714–1722
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Abingdon
Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire
1706–1712
Succeeded by
The Earl of Abingdon
Peerage of England
New title Earl of Marlborough
1689–1702
Succeeded by
Henrietta Godolphin
Duke of Marlborough
1702–1722
German nobility
Vacant
Part of Bavaria
Title last held by
George III
as baron
Prince of Mindelheim
1705–1714
Vacant

Template:Chief of the General Staff Template:Walpole/Townshend ministry


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General



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  1. ^ Vivian 1895, p. 297.
  2. ^ Holmes 2008, pp. 40-41.
  3. ^ Barnett 1999, p. 22.
  4. ^ Chandler 1973, p. 46.
  5. ^ Hibbert 2001, p. 57.
  6. ^ Churchill 2002b, p. 327.
  7. ^ Churchill 2002a, p. 11.
  8. ^ Churchill 2002b, p. 341.
  9. ^ Chandler 1973, p. 47.
  10. ^ a b Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named chandler48
  11. ^ Chandler 1973, p. 49.
  12. ^ Duffy 1987, p. 320.
  13. ^ Storrs 2006, pp. 6–7.
  14. ^ McKay & Scott 1983, p. 54.
  15. ^ Ingrao 2000, p. 105.
  16. ^ Thompson 2013.
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