Last Medal-------------------Next Medal

England c. 1722

Description: Medal by Dassier issued to commemorate the death of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough in June 1722.
Obverse: Long haired, draped cuirassed bust of Marlborough three-quarters right, "IOHAN. CHURC. DUX. MARLB." "J.D." in small letters.
Reverse: Victory, holding palm branch and laurel wreath, standing amongst piles of arms, "VBI ADERAT IBI VICTORIA" ="Where he was present, there was Victory". In exergue - "OB. 27. JUN. 1722. NAT./ ANN. 74" ="Died 27 June 1722 aged 74"
Statistics: Bronze 43mm, 34.7gm
Reference: MI ii 457/68, Eisler 7
Comment: This medal puts Victory as Marlborough's inseparable companion to conform to the historical statement "That he never besieged a town which he did not take nor fought a battle that he did not gain". Marlborough was born on the 24th June 1650 and so died in his 72nd year and not in his 74th, as Dassier states on this medal!


The dukedom was created in 1702 by Queen Anne; John Churchill, whose wife was a favorite of the queen, had earlier been made Lord Churchill of Eyemouth in the Scottish peerage (1682), which became extinct with his death, and Earl of Marlborough (1689) by King William III. Anne further honoured Churchill, after his leadership of the victories against the French of 13 August 1704 near the village of Blenheim (German Blindheim) on the river Danube (Battle of Blenheim), by granting him the royal manor of Woodstock, and building him a house at her own expense to be called Blenheim. It was commenced in 1705 and was completed in 1722, the year of his death. Blenheim Palace remains the Marlborough ducal seat.

The first duke was also honoured with Imperial titles: Emperor Joseph I created him a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1704, and in 1705, he was created Imperial Prince of Mindelheim (once the lordship of the noted soldier Georg von Frundsberg). However, he was obliged to surrender Mindelheim in 1714 by the Treaty of Utrecht, which returned it to Bavaria. According to some sources, he received the principality of Mellenburg in exchange. Regardless, his Imperial titles did not pass to his daughters (the Empire operated Salic Law which prevented female succession), so became extinct on his death in 1722.

The Duke of Marlborough holds certain subsidiary titles: Marquess of Blandford (created 1702), Earl of Sunderland (1643), Earl of Marlborough (1689), Baron Spencer, of Wormleighton (1603), and Baron Churchill, of Sandridge (1685) (all are in the English peerage). The title Marquess of Blandford is used as the courtesy title for the Duke's eldest son and heir. The Duke's eldest son's eldest son in turn can use the courtesy title Earl of Sunderland.

The later Dukes of Marlborough are descended from the first duke, but not in the male line. Because the first duke had no surviving sons, the title was allowed (by a special Act of Parliament) to pass to his eldest daughter in her own right. A younger daughter, Lady Anne Churchill, married Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (c. 1674-1722), and from this marriage descend the modern Dukes of Marlborough. They therefore originally bore the surname Spencer. However, George Spencer, the 5th Duke of Marlborough, obtained a Royal License to assume and bear the additional surname and arms of his famous ancestor, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, and thus became George Spencer-Churchill. This double-barrelled surname has remained in the family to this day, though some of the most famous members have preferred to style themselves as merely "Churchill".

The 7th Duke of Marlborough was the paternal grandfather of the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (who was born at Blenheim Palace on 30 November 1874).

The present Duke of Marlborough is John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough.

The title of Earl of Marlborough, which was created for Churchill in 1689, had been created one time previously in British history, for James Ley, in 1626. This title had become extinct in 1679.

Back to main page