'The glories of the Age of Anne' - the union of England and Scotland to form 'this island of Britain', and its establishment as a European and a global power - were the achievements of two men above all: Queen Anne's captain-general, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, and her Lord Treasurer, Sidney, first Earl of Godolphin, of whom it was said that each 'was the greatest of his kind that hardly any age has afforded'. Their partnership not only embodied
the emerging military-fiscal state; it was also a close and lifelong friendship which fully encompassed Marlborough's beautiful and tempestuous wife Sarah. Tracing the partnership as it proved itself in a succession of victorious summer campaigns in the field and bitterly contested 'winter campaigns'
at court and in parliament connects and illuminates aspects of a complex period which are often studied in isolation. But was the partnership in the end too successful, too self-contained, too mutually supportive; a dangerous concentration of power and a threat to the queen and the constitution? 'Rebellion and blood' were always undercurrents of the glories of the last Stuart reign. A troubled dynasty would come to an end with Queen Anne's life and a contested succession depended on the outcome
of the European war that occupied almost the whole of her reign. This is a story of operatic intensity: of sovereignty and ambition, glory and defeat, but, above all, of love and friendship proved in the hardest use. Its intense human interest and audible voices illuminate a conflicted period which
helped to determine the course of modern world.
Frances Harris was born and educated in Australia but has lived in London since 1968. She studied at London University between 1968 and 1975, after which she joined the staff of the British Library, as a curator of seventeenth and eighteenth century manuscripts. From 2003 until her retirement in 2010 she was Head of Modern Historical Manuscripts at the British Library. Since her retirement Dr Harris has held two honorary research fellowships at Birkbeck College and at the University of Sheffield.