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On this date in History death of Queen Anne, the wife of King James VI of Scotland and I of England, March 2, 1619.


Anne of Denmark (December 12, 1574 – March 2, 1619) was Queen consort of Scotland, England, and Ireland by marriage to King James VI and I. Anne was the second daughter of King Frederik II of Denmark and Norway, Duke of Schleswig and his wife Sophia of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, (a descendant of King John of Denmark, and also his own first half-cousin, through their grandfather, Frederik I, King of Denmark and Norway. Sophia was the daughter of Ulrich III, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow and Elizabeth of Denmark).

Anne married James in 1589 at age 15 and bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I. She demonstrated an independent streak and a willingness to use factional Scottish politics in her conflicts with James over the custody of Prince Henry and his treatment of her friend Beatrix Ruthven. Anne appears to have loved James at first, but the couple gradually drifted and eventually lived apart, though mutual respect and a degree of affection survived.

In England, Anne shifted her energies from factional politics to patronage of the arts and constructed her own magnificent court, hosting one of the richest cultural salons in Europe.


The death of Prince Henry in 1612 at the age of eighteen, probably from typhoid, and the departure for Heidelberg of the sixteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth in April 1613, after marrying Elector Frederick V of the Palatine, further weakened the family ties binding Anne and James. Henry’s death hit Anne particularly hard; the Venetian ambassador was advised not to offer condolences to her “because she cannot bear to have it mentioned; nor does she ever recall it without abundant tears and sighs”. From this time forward, Anne’s health deteriorated, and she withdrew from the centre of cultural and political activities, staging her last known masque in 1614 and no longer maintaining a noble court. Her influence over James visibly waned as he became openly dependent on powerful favourites. Though she was reported to have been a Protestant at the time of her death, evidence suggests that she may have converted to Catholicism sometime in her life.

By late 1617, Anne’s bouts of illness had become debilitating; the letter writer John Chamberlain recorded: “The Queen continues still ill disposed and though she would fain lay all her infirmities upon the gout yet most of her physicians fear a further inconvenience of an ill habit or disposition through her whole body.” In January 1619, royal physician Sir Theodore de Mayerne instructed Anne to saw wood to improve her blood flow, but the exertion served to make her worse. James visited Anne only three times during her last illness, though Prince Charles often slept in the adjoining bedroom at Hampton Court Palace and was at her bedside during her last hours, when she had lost her sight. With her until the end was her personal maid, Anna Roos, who had arrived with her from Denmark in 1590. Queen Anne died aged 44 on March 2, 1619, of a dangerous form of dropsy.


Historians have traditionally dismissed Anne as a lightweight queen, frivolous and self-indulgent. However, recent reappraisals acknowledge Anne’s assertive independence and, in particular, her dynamic significance as a patron of the arts during the Jacobean age.

Queen Anne was buried in King Henry VII’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, on May 13, 1619.