Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Nonsuch HP is of course delighted by the news that Prince William and Kate Middleton will get married next year. It has been noted that Kate is the first woman of a non-aristocratic background (or, as The Guardian put it, a "commoner") since Anne Hyde, who married James II in 1660. Her story is certainly very interesting. Anne's father was an adviser to James' brother Charles while the family was in exile during the protectorate. Anne was maid of honour to James' sister, Mary and it is said that James seduced her and was then forced to marry her (possibly in a secret ceremony in 1659, a year earlier than the official marriage). She was described as "plain" by Samuel Pepys, but the French ambassador considered her to have the "courage, cleverness and energy almost worthy of a King's blood." She had 8 children, but only 2 daughters survived past infancy - Mary and Anne, and she died 7 weeks after Anne's birth, aged 33, in 1671. She converted to Catholicism before her death, and probably influenced her husband to eventually do the same. His conversion led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when he was replaced by William of Orange, ruling jointly with his wife Mary, Charles and Anne's daughter.