The Godolphin-Marlborough Duumvirate
A.L. Rowse analyses the partnership of the Prime Minister and the chief commander in the field, during the long war of Queen Anne’s reign.
The long war that occupied practically the whole of Queen Anne’s reign is often thought of as Marlborough’s war, because of his outstanding personality and role in it. The part of Sidney Godolphin, who was Prime Minister - even thus early referred to as such - and bore the brunt of government at home from 1702 to 1710, is played down. He is probably the most underestimated and least well realised of all Britain’s first ministers: partly because of the brilliant light that has always fallen upon Marlborough, along with the popularity of a great commander in the field, partly because of Godolphin’s own personality.
He was a very unegoistic man, for a political leader, quite content for Marlborough to have all the fame. Indeed, he often seems not to have wanted the job at all, and only held on to it out of public and family duty, to the country and to the Marlboroughs. He had little or no ambition, and yet - as these volumes show1 - immense experience and competence, a shrewd and penetrating mind, with admirable balanced judgment. It is highly doubtful if the war could have been conducted anything like so successfully without his skilful management at home.