The eighth chapter describes the lowest point of the Marlborough-Godolphin partnership. The Allied army in Spain is defeated at Almanza, Sarah is supplanted at court by her poor relation (and Harley’s cousin) Abigail Masham, and the Whigs turn against the government because the queen refuses to consult them over senior Church appointments (‘the bishoprics crisis’). Marlborough says he would be better able to serve in a military capacity only, while Harley tells the queen that the partnership has become a dangerous concentration of power: the Treasury should be put into commission and the war be brought to an end on realistic terms. Marlborough’s loyalty to Godolphin seems to waver. Then the discovery that one of Harley’s clerks, William Gregg, is a spy forces a premature confrontation. Marlborough obliges the queen to part with Harley and goes over to try to ‘get Spain by France’.
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