King William and Mary
1650 – 1702
Rulers of England, Scotland, and Irelandby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Every year, on July 12th , crowds of Orangemen march though the streets of Northern Ireland, accompanied by the sound of tin whistles, accordions, and steel drums. They do this in honor of a man who saved their forefathers from the invading French. His name was William III, Prince of Orange and King of England.
William was born November 14, 1650 in The Hague, Kingdom of the Netherlands and lived until 1702, to the age of forty-two. In his lifetime William, along with is wife Mary, accomplished many things and is considered to be responsible for England’s “Glorious Revolution”. William was born fatherless, because his father, William II, Prince of Orange, died only a few days before his birth. When William III was 10 years old his mother Mary, Princess Royal of England and Princess of Orange, The Netherlands, died. In her will, William’s mother named her brother, King Charles as his guardian but William was actually raised by his paternal grandmother in The Netherlands. William’s education was focused around military theory and what his responsibilities would be as a future military leader. Since William was a child of royalty, most of the men he came in contact with distrusted him and had no wish for him to rise to power. Nothing of particular interest happened to William until he turned twenty-one and started his life in the military.
In 1672, France with the aid of England, invaded the Netherlands. Johan de Witt, the unofficial ruler of the Netherlands, failed to secure peace with the French and was thrown out of his position of power (he was brutally murdered afterwards). William at age 22, was then elected governor of three Dutch provinces, appointed Captain-General of the Netherlands and three years later elected governor of two additional provinces. It is important to note that William claimed to be a Protestant, yet many historians believe William was behind the murder of Johan de Witt. If what they believe is true, it would reveal that God and his commandments were pushed aside by William for man’s evil desires (Exodus 20:13 – You shall not murder). Finally, after many years of fighting, the Anglo-Dutch war ended on August 10, 1678 and William allied himself with Spain and later made peace with England.
At this point, the King of England, Charles II, as part of his foreign policy arranged the marriage of his niece to William III, Prince of Orange. William and Mary, daughter of James Stuart, Duke of York were married November 4, 1677 in St. James Palace, England. Mary, being twelve years younger then William, found him repulsive at first but in time grew to love him and his country. William always displayed a cold demeanor towards Mary, and the casual observer would believe that he cared nothing for her but the grief that William had over her death in later years told how much he relied upon and respected her.
When King Charles II died in 1685 his brother, James Stuart, Duke of York took the throne as James II. James, who had converted to Catholicism, still had a friendship with King Louis of France who had invaded the Netherlands. There was now a threat of an alliance between France and England being revived. The English Protestants did not like James II but tolerated him because they thought his daughter, Princess Mary, who was still a Protestant, would become queen after his death and because she was married William III of Orange.
King Louis of France began to become over-confident of his alliance
with James II and started to oppress the religious rights of French Protestants.
This revived the fear that many Protestant princes of Germany had toward
France, enabling William a perfect opportunity to start a new coalition
against King Louis. This coalition was called The League of Augsburg and
was forged on July 9, 1686.
In 1688, a group of Englishmen invited William and Mary to England. They asked William to bring an army with him so that they could over through the suppressing hand of King James. William landed at Torbay, England on November 5, 1688. He marched with 15,000 soldiers through the English countryside. King James II, having heard of Williams’s arrival, promptly fled to France, leaving the thrown of England unoccupied. William and Mary filled that vacancy, becoming joint rulers of England on April 11, 1689 and so the name, “The Glorious or Bloodless Revolution” was given to the event. Through the years whenever William went back to The Netherlands, Mary ruled England in his absence.
James II, having fled to France, was not about to remain idle while his kingdom slipped through his fingers. James still had considerable support from the Catholics of Ireland and he considered them a means of regaining his throne. He landed in Ireland in March of 1689, William & Mary declared war on King Louis that May. When James first arrived at Ireland he received no opposition as he marched to Dublin. However, two cities in Ireland, Londonderry and Enniskillin, resisted James’ advances. These cities where not willing to go without a fight, and they both managed to withstand a one hundred and five day siege, giving King William the time he needed to raise an army.
Williams sent his most trusted officer, Marshal Fredrick Herman Schomberg, to Ireland along with 10,000 soldiers. For a whole year Schomberg fought with James but no progress was made. William finally became frustrated and took matters into his own hands. He arrive at Ireland on June 14, 1690 with 36,000 troops and headed southward to engage James and the Jacobites (Jacobitism was a political movement centered around restoring Stuart Kings to the Throne of England and Scotland). James kept himself out of harms way for some time but finally revealed himself to William showing that he was going to stand and fight. William arrived the next day at the Boyne River, where the battle would take place. James was defeated, but escaped and sailed to France for the last time. The battle was later called the Battle of the Boyne, and is considered the turning point of the war and the beginning of the release of Irish Protestants from the Catholic Church.
William spent most of the rest of his life at war with King Louis. While he was out England Mary was left to rule until she died of smallpox in 1694. William was grief stricken at the loss of his wife, even though he had kept multiple mistresses through the years. Upon her death, William was left to rule England alone for eight years until his death in 1702 from falling off his horse. The “Glorious Revolution” was so called by those who saw the glory of God as He used William and Mary to remove the oppressing hand of the Catholic Church from England and Ireland.
1. Encyclopedia Britannia, “William III and Mary II” <http://www.britannia.com/history /monarchs/mon51.html
2. Chepesiuk, Ron, “William III: Prince of Orange” <http://europeanhistory.about.com/ library/prm/blwilliamoforangeprm4.htm
3. Encyclopedia Wikipedia, “William III of England” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ William_III_of_England#Early_reign
4. Moes, Gary, Streams of Civilization, pp.105-107, Christian Liberty