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John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough facts for kids

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The Duke of Marlborough
John Churchill Marlborough porträtterad av Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722).jpg
Portrait by Adriaen van der Werff
First Lord of the Treasury
In office
8 May 1702 – 11 August 1710
Monarch Anne
Preceded by The Earl of Carlisle
Succeeded by The Earl Poulett
Personal details
Born (1650-05-26)26 May 1650
Ashe House, Devon, England
Died 16 June 1722 (1722-06-17) (aged 72)
Windsor Lodge, Berkshire, England, Kingdom of Great Britain
Spouse(s) Sarah Jennings
Children 7, including:
Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough
Anne Spencer, Countess of Sunderland
John Churchill, Marquess of Blandford
Parent(s) Winston Churchill
Elizabeth Drake
Military service
Allegiance  England (1667–1707)
 Great Britain (1707–1722)
Branch/service English army
British army
Rank General
Commands Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
Master-General of the Ordnance
Battles/wars Monmouth Rebellion

Nine Years' War

  • Battle of Walcourt

War of the Spanish Succession

  • Battle of Schellenberg
  • Battle of Blenheim
  • Battle of Elixheim
  • Battle of Ramillies
  • Battle of Oudenarde
  • Siege of Lille
  • Battle of Malplaquet
  • Siege of Bouchain
Awards Knight of the Order of the Garter

General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1st Prince of Mindelheim, 1st Count of Nellenburg, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was an English soldier and statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs. From a noble family, he served first as a page at the court of the House of Stuart under James, Duke of York, through the 1670s and early 1680s, earning military and political advancement through his courage and diplomatic skill.

Churchill's role in defeating the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685 helped secure James on the throne, yet just three years later he abandoned his Catholic patron for the Protestant Dutchman, William of Orange. Honoured for his services at William's coronation with the earldom of Marlborough, he served with further distinction in the early years of the Nine Years' War, but persistent charges of Jacobitism brought about his fall from office and temporary imprisonment in the Tower. It was not until the accession of Queen Anne in 1702 that Marlborough reached the peak of his powers and secured his fame and fortune.

His marriage to the hot-tempered Sarah Jennings – Anne's intimate friend – ensured Marlborough's rise, first to the Captain-Generalcy of British forces, then to a Dukedom. Becoming leader of Allied forces during the War of the Spanish Succession, his victories on the fields of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709), ensured his place in history as one of Europe's great generals.

His wife's stormy relationship with the Queen, and her dismissal from court, was central to his own fall. Incurring Anne's disfavour, and caught between Tory and Whig factions, Marlborough, who had brought glory and success to Anne's reign, was forced from office and went into self-imposed exile. He returned to England and to influence under the House of Hanover with the accession of George I to the British throne in 1714.

Herzog von Marlborough in der Schlacht von Oudenarde
John Churchill at the Battle of Oudenaarde July 11, 1708

Marlborough's ambition made him the richest of all Anne's subjects. His family connections wove him into European politics. His leadership of the allied armies consolidated Britain's emergence as a front-rank power. He successfully maintained unity among the allies, thereby demonstrating his diplomatic skills.

Throughout ten consecutive campaigns during the Spanish Succession war, Marlborough held together a conflicting alliance through his sheer force of personality and raised the standing of British arms to a level not known since the Middle Ages. His victories allowed Britain to rise from a minor to a major power, ensuring the country's growing prosperity throughout the 18th century.

As an administrator Marlborough was also without peer; his attention to detail meant his troops rarely went short of supply – when his army arrived at its destination it was intact and in a fit state to fight. This concern for the welfare of the common soldier together with his ability to inspire trust and confidence, and his willingness to share the dangers of battle, often earned him admiration from his men – "The known world could not produce a man of more humanity", observed Corporal Matthew Bishop.

It was this range of abilities that makes Marlborough outstanding. Even his old adversaries recognised the Duke's qualities. His success was made possible because of his enormous reserves of stamina, willpower and self-discipline; his ability to hold together the Alliance against France, made possible by his victories, can hardly be overestimated.

While living at Windsor Lodge he suffered a stroke in June 1722, not long after his 72nd birthday. In the presence of his wife Sarah and two surviving daughters, the 1st Duke of Marlborough died. He was initially buried in the vault at the east end of Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey, but following instructions left by Sarah, who died in 1744, Marlborough was moved to be by her side lying in the vault beneath the chapel at Blenheim.


Title Years Followed by
Duke of Marlborough 1702–1722 Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough
Earl of Marlborough 1689–1722
Baron Churchill of Sandridge 1685–1722
Lord Churchill of Eyemouth 1682–1722 extinct
Prince of Mindelheim 1705–1714 Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria

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