Stanhope, James Stanhope, 1st Earl

Stanhope, James Stanhope, 1st Earl, 1673–1721, English general and statesman. During the War of the Spanish Succession he participated in the capture (1705) of Barcelona, was appointed (1706) minister to Spain, and in 1708 became commander in chief of the British forces there. He soon captured Minorca, taking Port Mahon and making it a winter base for the British fleet. He won the battles of Almenara and Zaragoza (1710) but lost his army to the French at Brihuega (1710) and was himself imprisoned for a year in Spain. On the accession (1714) in England of George I, Stanhope became a secretary of state. Devoting himself primarily to foreign affairs, he concluded a complex series of treaties, including the Triple Alliance (1717) with France and the Dutch. As chief minister (1717–18) he carried through the plans originated by Robert Walpole to fund the national debt and repealed (1718) the Occasional Conformity and Schism acts against dissenters. Becoming secretary of state again (1718), Stanhope negotiated the Quadruple Alliance of 1718 against Spain and formed (1719) a Baltic coalition to resist Russian expansion. His masterful diplomacy greatly strengthened Great Britain's position in Europe. He was created Earl Stanhope in 1718.

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