Queen Anne (1665 – 1714) was the last of the Stuart’s the second daughter of James II and his first wife Ann Hyde. Queen Anne ruled England from 1702 to 1714. It was a golden age in the history of England because it was a period of great prosperity. Industry, agriculture, and commerce all continued to prosper. Only during the last three years of her reign were their sign of distress and discontent, and that was chiefly due to the unavoidable war conditions in which the people had to live. English agriculture had improved so far that more wheat was grown than in medieval times. Wheat was the most important article of food. In the reign of Anne, there was a great exchange of agricultural products between one district and another. England’s agriculture improvement during this regime was so much that she was able to send corn abroad on a large scale.
Queen Anne’s reign was not yet time to appreciate the value of good education. There were only a few public schools like Eton, Winchester, and Westminster which were patronized chiefly by the aristocracy. The sons of the squires, yeomen and shopkeepers went to the nearest grammar schools. In wealthy families, private chaplains were employed to teach the young gentlemen. In schools, the punishment was of a rather severe type. Flogging was restored as a means of imparting knowledge and maintaining discipline. Writers like Locke and Steele were highly critical of this method. Women’s education was almost neglected and there was no good school for them. Most girls learned from their mothers to read, write, sew, and manage the household.
In the early part of the eighteenth century, most of the marriages were arranged by the parents. However, runaway marriages were common. There were also numerous love marriages. Divorce was almost unknown. During the twelve years of Queen Anne, in the whole country, there were only six divorces.
There were certain sports and pastimes which provided relaxation to the people. In Anne’s reign, a primitive kind of cricket was just beginning to take its place among the village sports. Football also was played by many. Cockfighting was watched with excitement by all classes of people. Horseracing attracted hundreds of people to the places where it was conducted. The most usual sports that people could easily resort to, were angling, shooting, and snaring birds of all kinds.
The most important industries of the period were coal mining and cloth-making. The coal mines were treated as the property of the owner of the land. Explosions were common in these mines and many workers lost their lives. In Anne’s time, the coal-mining industry was midway between the domestic and the factory system. The industry next in importance was cloth-making. Spinning was done chiefly in country cottages by women and children, and weaving chiefly in towns and villages by men.
The religious activities of the period consisted of the establishment of many religious societies and charity schools. life in individuals and families, to encourage church- The first object of these societies was to promote Christian attendance, family prayers, and Bible study. During the reign of Anne hundreds of charities, schools were founded all over England to educate the children of the poor in reading, writing, moral discipline, and the principles of the Church of England. Another characteristic activity of the period was the working of the Society for the Reformation of Manners.
In the last couple of years of her life, Anne became very ill. She was often bedridden and attended to by doctors. These doctors used many techniques to try to cure Anne including bleeding her and applying hot irons. These crude medicinal techniques probably did more harm than good, and Anne died on July 31st, 1714.