Marlborough, John Churchill, Duke of (16501722)

Marlborough, John Churchill, Duke of, soldier and statesman, born in Devonshire; joined the Guards as ensign, and served in Tangiers in 1667; sent in command of a company to help Louis XIV. in his Dutch wars, his courage and ability won him a colonelcy; he married Sarah Jennings in 1678, and seven years later became Baron Churchill on James II.'s succession; as general he was employed in putting down Monmouth's rebellion; he seceded to William of Orange in 1688, and received from him the earldom of Marlborough; he was in disfavour from 1694 till the outbreak of the Spanish Succession War, in which he gained his great renown; beginning by driving the Spaniards from the Netherlands in 1702, he won a series of important victories—Blenheim 1704, Ramillies 1706, Oudenard 1708, and Malplaquet 1709, contributed to enhance the military glory of England; Queen Anne loaded him with honours; large sums of money, Woodstock estate, Blenheim Palace, and a dukedom were bestowed on him; his wife was the Queen's closest friend, and the duke and duchess virtually governed the country, till in 1711 the Queen threw off their influence, and charges of misappropriation of funds forced him into retirement; he was restored to many of his offices by George I. in 1714, but for the last six years of his life he sank into imbecility; one of England's greatest generals, he was also one of her meanest men (16501722).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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