Fact of the day: 5th June

On this day in 1660 Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, was born.

Sarah Churchill rose to be one of the most influential women of her time through her close friendship with Queen Anne of Great Britain.

Sarah’s friendship and influence with Princess Anne was widely known, and leading public figures often turned their attentions to her in the hope that she would influence Anne to comply with requests.

As a result, by the time Anne became queen, Sarah’s knowledge of government, and intimacy with the Queen, had made her a powerful friend and a dangerous enemy.

Sarah enjoyed a “long and devoted” relationship with her husband of more than 40 years, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.

She acted as Anne’s agent after the latter’s father, James II, was deposed during the Glorious Revolution; and she promoted her interests during the rule of James’s successors, William III and Mary II.

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When Anne came to the throne after William’s death in 1702, the Duke of Marlborough, together with Sidney Godolphin, the first Earl of Godolphin, rose to head the government, partly owing to his wife’s friendship with the Queen.

While the Duke was out of the country commanding troops in the War of the Spanish Succession, Sarah kept him informed of court intrigue, while he sent her requests and political advice, which she would then convey to the Queen.

Sarah tirelessly campaigned on behalf of the Whigs, while also devoting much of her time to building projects such as Blenheim Palace. She died in 1744 at the age of eighty-four.

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