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Anne Hyde was born to a distinguished English family -- her maternal grandfather was a baronet and her father Edward Hyde served as a Member of Parliament -- but she was considered a commoner. In 1649, the Hydes fled to the Netherlands after the execution of King Charles I in the English Civil War. They settled in Breda, where Mary, Princess of Orange, daughter of the deposed king, took Anne into her household as a maid of honor. Edward Hyde became chancellor to the new king, Charles II. Anne began a liaison with James, Duke of York, the king's younger brother. When she became pregnant in 1660, Charles ordered James to marry her. Many disapproved of the match because of Anne's origins; Samuel Pepys expressed the general view that "the Duke of York's marriage with her hath undone the kingdom. . . " She was unpopular at court after the Restoration of King Charles II and matters were made worse by her conversion to the Roman Catholic faith. King Charles insisted that her two daughters, the future queens Anne and Mary, be raised as Protestants. Anne bore six other children who died in infancy or early childhood, and she died at age 34.
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