John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (26 May 1650 – 16 June 1722) (O.S), was a prominent English soldier and statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs throughout the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Rising from a lowly page at the court of the House of Stuart, he loyally served the 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 mentor for the Protestant Dutchman, William of Orange. Honoured for his services at William's coronation with the earldom of Marlborough (pronounced /'mɔːl.bɹə/), 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, however, that Marlborough reached the zenith of his powers, and secured his fame and fortune.

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