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Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough

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Sarah Churchill
Sarah Churchill was an English aristocrat of the 18th Century, one of the most wealthy and influential women in Europe during her lifetime. 










Full Name Sarah Jennings Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
Who duchess
Birth Date June 5, 1660
Death Date October 18, 1744
Country England
Born Saint Albans, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Died London, England, UK
Cause old age
Education n/a
Father Richard Jennings
Mother Frances Thornhurst Jennings
Spouse John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
Siblings

Ralph Jennings

Frances Talbot, Countess of Tyrconnel

Children

Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough

Anne Spencer, Countess of Sunderland

John Churchill, Marquess of Blandford

Elizabeth Churchill Egerton

Mary Churchill Montagu


Connections

Churchill was the niece of Martin Lister. 

Churchill was an intimate friend of Anne, Queen of Great Britain. They struck up their friendship in 1675, when Churchill was 15 years old. Their friendship only grew stronger as the two grew older, and both women grew more and more powerful. They were, at their peak, two of the most powerful women in Europe. Anne became Queen in 1702, and by this time, it was known that her most intimate advisor and confidante was Churchill. This further elevated her status. Anne immediately made Sarah Mistress of the Robes after being crowned, which was at the time the highest station a woman could hold. Anne also granted Sarah's husband many advancements. However, their relationship grew strained beginning around 1705, as Anne found Sarah too brash and insensitive, and pushy about trying to convince Anne to make political decisions for Sarah's benefit. Sarah also soon grew jealous over Anne's friendship with another girl, Sarah's impoverished cousin. The two women met for the last time in 1710 - Sarah apparently went to the meeting ready to apologize and make amends, but the Queen was unmoved, and coldly responded that she would "make no answer," but suggested that Sarah "put it in writing." This marked the end of Anne's favoritism of Sarah, and she experienced a severe fall in status after the Queen cut her out of her inner circle. She dismissed Sarah's husband, and stripped Sarah herself of her royal titles. Queen Anne died four years later, without ever seeing Sarah again. The two women never made peace.

Churchill met John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough in 1675. She was 15 years old, and he was 25. He was enchanted by her, and soon professed that he had fallen in love with her. John was accustomed to being with strong, powerful women - his mistress had been Barbara Palmer, a former royal mistress of Charles II. He also showed interest in Catherine Sedley. At first, John appeared to plan to take Sarah as his fresh young mistress, now that Palmer had left the country. However, Sarah refused this. John continued his relationship with both Sarah and Catherine Sedley. In 1677, after the death of Sarah's brother, she suddenly became an heiress to a large fortune, pushing John to choose her over Sedley as a wife. However, both John's family and Sarah's family disapproved of the match, and so they married in secret in 1677. The marriage was announced publically in 1678, after Sarah became pregnant. 

Churchill was an acquaintance of Charles II, and his court was the first royal court that she lived in. In reward for her and her husband's loyalty to the throne, he gave them titles.

Churchill also attended the court of James II, who held Sarah and her husband in high regard.

Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl of Godolphin was a lifelong friend and supporter of Churchill.

During the reign of William III, Churchill was still a powerful member of the royal court, but the new king favored her and her husband less than the previous monarchs had. 

Queen Mary II was an enemy of Churchill, threatened by her friendship with Princess Anne. After taking the throne, she ordered Anne to dismiss Churchill, but Anne refused. This was the beginning of a long-held bitterness and contempt that Mary II would hold for Churchill. When Mary II demanded that Churchill be banned from her royal residence, Princess Anne left with her, and they held their own court at another royal residence.

Godfrey Kneller painted numerous portraits of Churchill.

In her later years, Churchill was a friend of Queen Caroline of Ansbach.

Churchill was a long enemy of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, though in her later years, after the death of her husband, he was one of the many men that sent her a marriage proposal.

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