Feature Book By Judith Lissauer Cromwell

Good Queen Anne

Good Queen Anne

Queen Anne (1665–1714) was not charismatic, brilliant or beautiful, but under her rule, England rose from the chaos of regicide, civil war and revolution to the cusp of global supremacy. She fought a successful overseas war against Europe’s superpower and her moderation kept the crown independent of party warfare at home. This biography reveals Anne Stuart as resolute, kind and practical—a woman who surmounted personal tragedy and poor health to become a popular and effective ruler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author Judith Lissauer Cromwell

Judith Lissauer Cromwell

Judith Lissauer Cromwell spent a successful corporate career on Wall Street before returning to academia as an independent historian and biographer of powerful women. Her experiences as a magna cum laude graduate of Smith College, holder of a doctorate in modern European history with academic distinction from New York University, veteran of corporate America, and single mother enrich Cromwell’s perspective on strong women in history. She previously published Dorothea Lieven: A Russian Princess in London and Paris 1785-1857 and Florence Nightingale, Feminist, and now turns to tell the real story of Queen Anne. Visit her at https://www.judithcromwell.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Judith Lissauer Cromwell

 

Q: What similarities do you see between the other women you’ve written about and Queen Anne? What draws you to these women?

Judith Lissauer Cromwell: All three women sought to rise above the traditional female role; they refused to accept the conventional wisdom that females were intellectually inferior to males and incapable of handling political issues.  Dorothea Lieven used her husband and lovers to get her start in the diplomatic world, but in the final analysis, her brains and charisma earned Dorothea the unique and widely-recognized role of independent diplomat.  Florence Nightingale deplored the waste of women’s brains. In creating the nursing profession, she gave females, for the first time, an acceptable path to financial independence. No one thought Anne Stuart would be queen; no one groomed her for the role.  Yet, she proved herself an effective constitutional monarch, a woman well able to navigate the treacherous political shoals of a world dominated by men.

Q: Despite the implications of the popular movie “The Favourite,” what has your research shown about Anne’s so-called favorites, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and Abigail, Lady Masham?

JLC: Sarah and Anne had been friends from childhood.  When Anne became queen she appointed Sarah to important posts in her household.  But Sarah wanted more -- to become a political force. Anne refused to let her meddle in politics.  Sarah’s persistent, rude, and condescending efforts to influence Anne politically, killed the friendship.  Abigail was Anne’s chambermaid and remained in that position despite her husband’s ennoblement. Anne never considered Abigail a friend.  Abigail also tried to influence Anne politically, but got nowhere because Anne refused to discuss politics with her. Unlike Sarah, however, Abigail knew when to keep quiet.  That, and Abigail’s ability to nurse the poorly queen, made Anne prefer her company.

Lesbianism  never entered into the equation.  (A deeply religious woman, Anne would never have committed what the Bible at that time considered a sin; Anne enjoyed a very happy marriage; Anne prized loyalty, so it is hard to believe that she would have betrayed her husband.)

Q: What is the most surprising thing you discovered about Anne?

JLC: Anne applied common sense and knowledge of human nature to governing; and that combination served her country well.  She did not learn from books; Anne learned from life. Her background, upbringing, youth, and early married years taught Anne valuable lessons; she put them to good use during her twelve year reign.

Q: How was Anne’s marriage unusual for the time, and what role did it play in her reign?

JLC: Anne and her husband George had an unusually happy marriage.  It was, of course, an arranged marriage but unlike most male royals, George never strayed from the bed he and Anne shared throughout more than twenty years of marriage.  When English couples married, their well-wishers hoped they “would love like the queen and prince.”

Q: Why should readers learn the history of Queen Anne?

JLC: In the era of “Me Too,” when women of all ages and backgrounds are looking for self-fulfillment, Anne is an inspiration.  She shows how a female of average intelligence and no particular beauty but a decent heart, uneducated in government, physically debilitated and emotionally scarred, can still succeed in guiding her country to greatness.

Dismissed, derided, and damned with faint praise for three hundred years, Queen Anne deserves her due.  In the “Me Too” era, it is appropriate to consider the impact she made.

 

 

 

  

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