Teaching Students About Queen Anne


Queen Anne, the last monarch of the Stuart dynasty, reigned over England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1702 to 1714. Her rule was marked by political turbulence and significant cultural, social, and economic changes. Teaching students about Queen Anne offers a unique opportunity to explore royal history and foster an understanding of the complex interplay between individuals, institutions, and historical events. This article will outline effective methods to engage students in the study of Queen Anne’s rule.

1. Presenting a biographical overview

Begin by providing students with an overview of Queen Anne’s life. Discuss her early years as the daughter of James II and her role as the sister to the future Queens Mary II and Princess Sophia. Highlight her personal struggles with health issues, multiple pregnancies, and tragic losses that shaped her character. Encourage students to think about how Queen Anne’s experiences might have influenced her decisions as a monarch.

2. Addressing political alliances and rivalries

Explain how Queen Anne ascended to the throne after the Glorious Revolution – a pivotal moment in British history – led to the ousting of her father, James II. Discuss her alliances with powerful political figures such as Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, and Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford. Emphasize how these relationships often determined political decisions because Queen Anne had limited power as a constitutional monarch.

3. Examining the War of Spanish Succession

The War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) was one of the most significant events during Queen Anne’s reign. Help students understand its causes by explaining how European powers sought to maintain a balance after King Charles II of Spain died without an heir. Discuss how this conflict impacted Britain’s military achievements under leaders like John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough.

4. Introducing the Act of Union 1707

Place the Act of Union 1707 within the context of Queen Anne’s rule, explaining how it united England and Scotland to form Great Britain. Discuss the motivations behind this momentous decision and examine potential resistance within both countries. Highlight the significance of establishing a single Protestant monarch as a symbol of unity.

5. Evaluating the cultural impact

The reign of Queen Anne saw significant cultural developments, including the emergence of neoclassical architecture and literature. Encourage students to explore these artistic achievements by examining influential works such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Marlborough House, Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels,” and Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe.” Discuss how these cultural innovations reflect the social and political climate of the early 18th century.

6. Debating her legacy

Encourage students to evaluate Queen Anne’s legacy by considering her role in consolidating Britain’s power on the European stage, overseeing significant legislative changes like the Act of Union 1707, and contributing to cultural advancements during her reign. Encourage students to formulate their thoughts for or against Queen Anne’s importance as a historical figure.


Teaching students about Queen Anne presents an engaging way to develop their understanding of British history while fostering critical thinking around historical figures’ roles and agency. By implementing these strategies, educators can ensure that students appreciate Queen Anne’s reign’s complexities within a broader context and recognize the lasting impact it has had on modern Britain.

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