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Marlborough, John Churchill

Marlborough, John Churchill, Duke of, eldest son of Sir Winston Churchill, was born in 1650. He became a page to James, Duke of York, being introduced to his notice by his sister Arabella, who was the duke's mistress. Entering the army at an early age, Churchill served under Monmouth in Scotland, and with the French against Holland. Turenne was his master in the art of war. In 1678, when he married, be became colonel of the Life Guards, and, on the accession of his patron to the throne, was made a peer. He served James skilfully in the Monmouth rebellion, but deserted him at the Revolution. Though he had been in favour of a regency, William III. recognised his abilities by making him a Privy Councillor and an earl, and by employing him in a military capacity in Ireland and Flanders. No sooner, however, was James back in France than Marlborough began to intrigue with him, and received a pardon from him for past offences. His real object, the setting up of Anne against both James and William, appears to have been divined by the Jacobites. When it was discovered by William in 1692, Marlborough was dismissed. He now joined the Tories, or anti-Dutch party, at the same time continuing his Jacobite intrigues. In 1696 he was implicated in Sir John Fenwick's plot, but generously forgiven by the king. Towards the end of the reign he regained William's confidence, and was not only made commander-in-chief, but also entrusted with important foreign negotiations. On the accession of Anne, Marlborough became all powerful. He induced the Tories to consent to the yvar with France, and himself assumed the command of the English and Dutch forces. In the ensuing war he was victorious at Blenheim, Ramilies, and Oudenarde over the best generals of Louis XIV., and was rewarded with a dukedom and the grant of a palace and estate near Woodstock, named after his greatest victory. Marlborough's position in England was never, however, completely secure. He was averse to party government, and tried to make himself an independent position by securing the governorship of the Netherlands from the Archduke Charles and the captain-generalship for life in England. The latter was refused like the former; for it came nt a time when Anne was getting tired of the Whigs and of the arrogance of the Duchess of Marlborough. At the end of 1710 the duke was charged with receiving commissions on the supply of bread to the troops and on subsidies to the allies, and was dismissed. His career was over, and he retired to the Continent, where he corresponded both with the Jacobins and the Elector of Hanover. The result was that when he returned on the death of Anne, although he was made commander-in-chief, he was never again trusted with political power. He died at Blenheim Palace in 1722, having for some years nearly lost his faculties. His wife, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (the "Atossa" of Pope), to whom he was much attached, and who served him greatly with Anne till displaced in 1710 by Mrs. Mashara, died in 1744 in her eighty-fifth year.