** British royalty King William III William and Mary William of Orange

English Royalty: William III/William of Orange(1650-1702)

Figure 1.--This is a portrait of 4 year old William III of Orange, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel, and King of reat-Britain. The artist was Adriaan Hanneman, a Dutch artist on whom we have little information. It would have been painted about 1654. Notice the cap. This looks likes a male style that girls and women would not normally wear. Click on the image for more information.

William like his wife Mary was a Stuart. His father was William II de Nassau, Prince of Orange. His mother was English Princess Royal Mary Henrietta Stuart, a daughter of Charles I. William and Mary replaced James II in the Glorious Revolution. Their reign meant the end of royal prerogative and efforts to establish royal absolutism. William's primary accomplishment as Statholder and King was to twat efforts by France to dominate Europe. He also profoundly impacted English government. After William and Mary it would be Parliament that would increasingly dominate English Government. Control of Parlialent would be contested by the merchant backed Whigs .



William's father was William II de Nassau, Prince of Orange (1625- ). His father was Frederick Henry de Nassau, Prince of Orange (1584- ). His mother was Amalia of Solm-Braunfels (1602- ).


Like Mary, William of Orange was a Stuart. His mother was English Princess Royal Mary Henrietta Stuart (1631- ), a daughter of King Charles I and Princess Henrietta Maria de Bourbon of France (1609- ).


William was born in 1650 in the Binnenhof Palace, The Hague, Netherlands. William never knew his father who died from smallpox 8 days before his birth. His mother also died of smallpox in 1660 when hewas about 10 years old.


The portrait shown here is of William III at 4 years of age. It is likely that this portrait was commissioned to send William's guardian and uncle the Hohenzollern Frederick William, the Great Elector of Brandenburg. (Brandenburg would become in the Prussia in the 18th century.) William's father, the stadtholder William II died 8 days before his son was born. The office of stadtholder in the Netherlands was not automatically hereditary. The Dutch States General were opposed to the infant Williams's succession and prevented it. The young William, heir of the House of Orange, was in a difficult position. His mother and other relatives thought it advisable to make sure that Frederick William and other relatives did not forget about the young William on whom the future of the House of Orange was dependant. We believe that several other such portraits were made of William at different ags.


The artist who painted this portrait was Adriaan Hanneman, a Dutch artist on whom we have little information. We do know that he was influenced by Van Dyck and spent some time in England.

Childhood Clothing


Stadholder (1672)

William's primary achievement in European history was the effective opposition to France at a time when Louis XIV was in a position to dominate Europe. His life was essentially spent protecting the independence of the Netherlands and other Protestantvsttes from the expansonist efforts of Louis XIV. Wilhelm at the age of about 22 in 1672 was appointed Stadtholder in the Netherlands, the same office his father held. He also became captain-general of the Dutch forces that opposed a French invasion ordeeed by Louis XIV. It came during the Third Anglo-Dutch War. William twated the French invasion and a peace was reached in 1678. Realising that France with its superior resources was likely to invade again when conditions were favirable, sought to organize an anti-French alliance of other threatened states. The result was the League of Augsburg.

Marriage (1677)

Mary's uncle Charles II insisted she marry William of Orange to help sunstantiate an alliance with the Dutch who were also opposing Louis XIV's expansonist policies. Princess Mary objected to the marriage. She was only 12 years of age and when she met William, thought him repulsive. They were married at St. James Palace in London, but moved to Holland where as a young girl was very homesick. Gradually Mary developed a close attachment to Wlliam as well as her new home. while living in Holland,

Mary Stuart (1662-94)

Mary Stuart was the daughter of King James II and Anne Hyde. James father was King Charles I (1600- ). His mother was French Princess Henrietta Maria de Bourbon (1609- ). Mary's mother was the daughter of Edward Hyde, Earl of Claredon (1609- ) and Frances Aylesbury.Mary Stuart was the daughter of James II and Anne Hyde. She was born in 1662 in exile during Cromwell's Protecorate. Her uncle Charles II insisted she marry William of Orange to help sunstantiate an alliance with the Dutch with whom England had fought a series of costly naval wars. Mary and William did not produce any heirs. Mary died at a very young age of smallpox in London during 1694. While brief, her reign and subsequent parlimentary action firmly established the Protestant stamp on the English monarchy.


Mary and William did not produce any heirs. They had three stillborn childrn 1678-80.


William has a long-term relationship with Elizabeth Villiers who was one of Mary's ladies-in-waiting. Elizabeth helped changed Mary's initial opinion of William. Mary became devoted to her husband and deferred to him on matters of state. William for his part often seem cold to Mary, but many historians believe a deep affection developed on his part as well and he grieved profound upon her untimly death.

Elizabeth Villiers (16??-1733)

William has a long-term relationship with Elizabeth Villiers. Her father was Sir Edward Villiers and her mother was Lady Frances Howard.She married George Hamilton, the First Earl of Orkney in 1695. They had four children: Anne (1694- ), Frances, and Henrietta.

James II

Mary's father, James II, became king in 1685. He was the second surviving son of Charles I. His father had been executed by Cromwell, but he and his elder brother Charles fled to France for saftey. James inherited the throne from his elder brother, Charles II, in 1685. He was known as James II in England, but James VII of Scotland. His brother had quarlled with Parliament and covertly accepted money from France, but was cautious on the religious issue. James ignored his brother's advise and not only quarled with Parliament, but persued militant Catholic policies. Englnd having endured the Civil war and Cromwell's Protectorate was not eager for another ontitutional crisis, but James in 1688 produced exactly this--James Francis Edward Stuart. This came as a surprise to the English people. James and his wife were middle ge and were not expected to have any more children. He he been more adrout politically, James might have survived this. James had, however, recklessly in only 3 years alienated virtually every important political and military group in the kingdom. James negotiated an alliance with Catholic France, the historic enemy of England. He then declared that he was a Catholic, abandoned Anglicanism, and ordered the arrest Church of England Archbishop Sancroft and six bishops who supported the Archbishop in refusing to proclaim adherence to Catholicism. James attempted to appoint Catholic officers in the army. He also appointed Cathlholic officials in his Government and to pack parliament with Catholic supporters. He reserected the Dispensing Power. This was the recognized royal prerogative to suspend laws passed by Parliament. James was trying to evade the Act of Uniformity and the Test Act. James issued the Declaration of Indulgence (1687-88) suspending penal legislation against religious nonconformity. This allowed Dissenters to worship openly and Catholics to worship rivately. James was on his assumption childless. Many Englishmen were prepared to endure his monarchy with the expectation that his Protetant daughter Mary would succeed him. This changed with the nnouncement that his wife was pregnant which meant that there would be a Catholic heir.

War of the Grand Alliance (1688-97)

Louis XIV launched another war in 1688 and fighting broke out between the French and the League of Augsburg that William had crafted. James had joined with France to fight the Dutch. William saw in the ongoing crisis in England, an opportunity to divide the English and French whose combined forces the Dutch would have had difficulty fending off again. The War lasted 10 years. After the Glorious Revolution, William had access to English resources to conduct and finance the war. Many in England complained of the cost of the war, calling it King William's War. William scored several important successes against the French who in 1697 agreed to end hostilities with the Peace of Rijswijk.

The Glorious Revolution (1688)

The birth of James II's son who he was determined to raise a Catholic, combined with his reckless policies, precipitated the Glorious Revolution. James' son was born in June 1688. Protestants could no longer count on a Protestan heir from James' first Protestnt marriage. This meant that James was founding an overtly Catholic dynasty that would promote a return to Catholocism. This treatened the position of the Englih Protestant aristocracy as well as the overwelming population of the yeomanry which were now firmly Protestant. Important Protestant statesmen, now known as the "Immortal Seven", invited William and Mary to come to England to depose James. One of the leading Protestants was Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill) who had supported James, joined in invited William. William landed a Dutch army at Torbay in November 1688 and was immediatly joined by Protestant forces. William pledged to defend traditional English liberties and Protestantism. William and his Protestant English allies marched unopposed on London. The lack of bloodshed in comparison to the war of the Roises and he Civil War earned the actioin the term "Glorious". James having alienated potential supporters was forced to flee the city. He was captured by fishermen and turned over to William. As James was his father-in-law, William allowed him to go into exile in France where he was given refugee by Louis XIV in France. Mary seems to have had no remorse concerning her role in the dethronement of her father. When William arrived in London, Parliament met, denounced James, and offered the crown to William and Mary as joint sovereigns. Parliament also enacted important constitutional limitations on the English monarchy. This ended forever the Stuart insistence on a French-style absolute monarchy.

The Crown (1689)

Parliament was unsure how to proceed when King James fled and then abdicated. Most wanted Mary Stuart on the throne, but not Prince William. William was a descendent of Cjarles I, but was still a forign prince. Most in Parliament conceived William as a kind of Prince Consort, the role Parliament would two centuries later relegate to Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert. Princess Mary who by this time had become very attavhed to her husband and accepted a subservient role in their marriage, refused Parliament's offer. She was concerned that she could not rule alone. William was unwilling to accept the status of Prince Consort. William although he commanded a victorious army, composed largely of Dutch forces, saw that it would in the long run be dangerous to seize the throne by conquest. In addition, his interested and alegiance was primarily with Holland. Parliament eventually accepted the terms demanded by William and Mary, recognizing that both had claims to the throne by birthright.

Reign (1689-1701)

william and Nary were co-rulers. It was Mary, however, who their reign developed played a dominant role in ruling England. Mary in England acted as royal administrator and William first in Ireland and then on the Coninent acted as military field commander. William's primary interest was his native Holland and the unfolding Protestant-Catholic and dynastic conflicts on the continent. William in fact went back to Holland, leaving Mary to rule in England. He spent much of his reign there participating in the great battles against Catholicism. William had little interest in England and the English people. Mary on the other hand had a deep love of her native land and became emensely popular with the English people. One contemporary assessment of the two was: "She seems to be of a good nature, and that she takes nothing to heart; whilst the Prince her husband has a thoughtful countenance, is wonderfully serious and silent, and seems to treat all persons alike gravely, and to be very intent on affairs: Holland, Ireland, and France calling for his care."

After Mary's death William ruled along for several years. During this time he became increasingly unpopular. The war with France was very costly and required costly taxes. In addition, William had no real interest in England. William in acquiesing to the expanded powers for the British Parliament, he received support for his continental wars. Thus the bitterly contested 17th century conflict between the Crown and Parliament was finally settled and England's modern political system began to merge.

Battle of the Boyne (1690)

King James abdicated, but back in France had second thoughts. Louis XIV provided him a force of French infantry with which he invaded Ireland. Ireland was still Catholic and many supported King James. James French-Irish army met William's Protestant army at the Battle of the Boyne and was thoroughly defeated. This was James's last real effort to reclaim his throne, although he conrinued plotting until his death in 1701. The Irish defeat at the Boyne was a dissaster for the Irish people. William proceeded to take the war with the French to Flanders.

English Politics

The modern English political system began to take shape after the Glorious Revolution. Parliament was split between Whigs and Torries. The Whigs represented the merchant class and after the onset of the Industial Revolution would promote economic expansion. . The Torries represented the land holding aristocracy. While these two nascent political parties duffered on commerce and economic issues and on Puritan-Anglican tensions, they solidly believed in the supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy and the need to irradicate Catholic influence, especially in government.

Bill of Rights (1689)

Parliament took major steps to firmly establish its supremecy in English Government. William primarily oncerned with his Dutch holdings and the statis of co-ruler, was willing to accept the limitatoins that Parliament was setting on the monarchy. Parliament declared the Dispensing Power reserected by King James illegal. This was the recognized royal prerogative to suspend laws passed by Parliament. Parliament fundamentally changed the character of theEnglish Government. Parliament enacted the Bill of Rights (1689). It was a law that significantly limited royal authority that had been the foundation of Tudor-Stuart authority. The could not maintain a standing army without parliament's expressed permission. The monarchy was given an income of �600,000--a paltry sum compared to the funds available to Louis XIV accroos the Channel. Additional grants were made by Parliament for specific purposes, but the monrchy had to request these appropriations. Another new law, the Mutiny Act ensured that Parliament would not lose control of the Army as its budget had to be approved annully. Parliament also chartered the The Bank of England to finance the Government.

Williamite War in Ireland (1689-91)

The Williamite or Jacobite War began when James II supported by King Louis XIV of France attempted to regain his throne (1689). It is also called the War of the Two Kings because it pitted deposed Catholic James II against the new king, Protestaht William I (William of Orange). James had been deposed by William and Parliament in the Glorious Revolution (1688). William had married to James' daughter Mary which provided a thin venner of dyastic cover. James decided to use predomunantly Catholic Ireland to launch his campaign to regain the crown. Even aftr the Glorious Revolution in England, the Jacobites held most of Ireland. Richard Talbot, the Earl of Tyrconnell, was James's viceroy in Ireland. He wabnted to ensure that all the strong points in Ireland were firmly in the hands of loyal Catholic garrisons. And by By November 1688, only the walled city of Derry (later renamed Londonderry) had a Protestant garrison loyal to William and Mary. Talbot ordered the Earl of Antrim to take the city and garison it with a loyal Catholic force. He did not immediately move on the town. James found support among the mostly Catholic Irish who forned the bulk of the Jaobites Army. James had signed a scret treaty with Louis even before he was deposed. Louis supported James with monet, arms, and men. Tghe Williamite War thus became part War became part of a wider European conflict known as the Nine Years War. A few Protestants of the established Church in Ireland also fought with the Jacobites. In England, James downfall was sealed when he lost the support of the Churchof England because of his none to secret Catholic sympathies. Williams support cane from the mostly Protestant popultion of northern Ireland. A Jacobite army attempted to take the the Williamite stronghold of Derry (1689). The Royaln Govenor declared the city indefensible, but was expelled. Appretice boys managed to stop the first Jacobite force to reach the town, by raising a drawbridge and clising the town gates. The people of Derry decided to fight even when King James appeared at the city gates and demanded surrender (April 18). The city was finally releaved by the Royal Navy (July 28). William organized a multi-national force to invade Ireland, including English, Scottish, Dutch, Danish and other troops. The Protestants who fought under William against James became known as Orangemen. In addition to the dynastic and religious struggle, The Williamite War was the last real Irish resistance to English rule until the 20th century. The Jacobites fought a series of battles. The most important was the Battle of the Boyne (1690). James left Ireland after the Battle of the Boyne. The remaining Irish Jacobites were finally defeated after the Battle of Aughrim (1691). This ended Irish Jacobitism. The Boyne was the last major Irish effort at independence until the Easter Rebellion in 1916. TheWar was formally ended on honorableterms with the Peace of Limrick (1691), althoufg the Irish Parliament subsequentlyvrefused to honor all ofthe terms of the Treaty. The Boyne confirmed English Protestant control of Ireland, but did not affect the Cattholcism of the Irish peasantry. Subsequent Jacobite Risings were confined to Scotland and England. The War had a lasting effect on Ireland, confirming British and Protestant rule over the country for over two centuries. The iconic Williamite victories of the Siege of Derry and the Battle of the Boyne are still celebrated by the Unionist community in Northern Ireland today.

The Settlement Act (1701)

Parliament's last step to establish its supremecy over the monarchy was The Settlement Act of 1701. Parliment had grown weary of what had become known as King William's War. This was a series of engagements fought by William on the Continent to protect Protestant states and resist the expansionary moves by Louis XIV. This had proven expensive as was being financed in large measure by English taxes. Parliament in the Settlement established the principal that the monarch cold not conduct a war without parlimentary consent. The Settlement Act took several other steps aimed at William. Members of the Commons and non-English subjects were prohibited from holding public office. The Monarch's choice of ministrers would have to be approved by Parliament. Judges could no longer be removed and punished by the monarchs. Judges could only be impeached by the Commons with no possibility of royal pardon. In addition, Parliament acquired the right to determine the succession. All of James II's Cathloic children that he had with Mary of Modena were excluded from the succession. After Queen Anne, Mary's younger siter, the crown would descend on Sophia, granddaughter of James I and niece of Charles I, through marriage to the German Protestant House of Hanover. Parliament thus effectiveley ended the accession of another Catholic monarch.


William died in 1702. He fell from his horse and died from the complications. He was buried in Westminster Abbey next to his wife, Mary. Under the terms of the Parlimentary acts passed upon William and Mary's accession in 1689 and further acts in 1701, the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland passed to Mary's sister, Anne. In the Netherlands, the leadership passed to John William Friso.

War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14)

While William died in 1701, the alliances he forged as King and Stadholder were instrumental in forging another aliance against Louis XIV's last attempto expand French influence. Like the War of the Grnd Alliance, this war with France alsoproved controversial in England. Even so, English partivipation under the command of the Duke of Marlborough achieved brilliant victories at Blenheim and other engagements that in the end twarted Louis XIV's efforts to further expand French territory.


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Created: July 28, 2003
Last updated: 1:21 PM 1/16/2021