John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) was one of England's greatest generals. He entered the army at 16 and promotions came quickly as his ability was astounding. He married Sarah Jennings, a lady in waiting to Princess Anne. When the duke of York became King James II, a rebellion broke out and the king put Marlborough in charge of the army to squelch it -- he did. But the efforts by James II to bring back the Catholic faith to England ended in the loss of his throne, Marlborough was one of the first to back William III as the new monarch. The new king realizing Marlborough's influence with the army so he made him the Earl of Marlborough.
At the start of the War of Spanish Succession, Marlborough was given command of the English troops in The Netherlands. In 1692 he was suddenly dismissed, charged with treason, and thrown in the Tower of London. Historians think there were grounds for this charge, but he managed to later get himself released and again grew in favor with the King.
When William died, Princess Anne came to the throne. Marlborough's wife (whom had been a lady in waiting to Princess Anne) now found herself back in court at the highest levels. Queen Anne trusted her and Marlborough was given control of all the forces at home and abroad. His campaigns against the French met with success after success and he was awarded the title of Duke and given the Royal Manor of Woodstock and the queen promised to build him Blenheim Palace. He was on the verge of pressing onto Paris with little to stop him (from the French) when his backing with the queen fell apart. Back home his ill-tempered proud wife had offended the queen and was thrown out of court. Marlborough was called back and removed from command.
After the queens death in 1714 George I appointed Marlborough captain general again, but this time it was mostly ceremonial.
Through Marlborough career he garnished lavish gifts and became quite wealthy. Blenheim Palace was started in 1705. . After the death (1722) of the duke, the duchess supervised completion of the building of Blenheim Palace, quarreling bitterly with its architect, Sir John Vanbrugh, and with most of her relatives.
Blenheim would become the birthplace of great statemman Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
(in large part from the World Book
(see the Duke of Marlborough Family)