1893 text

Son of the Prince of Orange and Mary, eldest daughter of Charles I. —afterwards William III. He was then in his tenth year, having been born in 1650.

2 Annotations

helena murphy   Link to this

In the seventeenth century power in the United Provinces, known today as Holland, was shared between the Stadtholder, a Prince of the House of Orange Nassau ,and the Grand Pensionary ,who was the leading politician in the States General which was composed of the representatives of the seven provinces. William III who was born in 1650 was the son of Mary, the eldest daughter of Charles I, and William II, the Stadtholder, who died shortly before his birth. As soon as he was born William was made a ward of State . Many of the Dutch wished to abolish the Stadtholderate and William would remain a captive of Jan De Witt, who hoped to make of him a "safe king".
William's fortunes changed in 1672 when De Witt, along with his brother were killed by a mob in The Hague for Dutch humiliation and practical annihilation at the hands of the French and English during the Second Dutch War of Charles II. He took over as the Captain and Admiral General of the Dutch Republic, and although two thirds of the country was under occupation, he rallied the people behind him, cut the dykes and literally had the French bogged down in the mud. Dutch ships, reinvigorated by his courage inflicted heavy losses on French and English shipping.
In 1677 he visited England for his marriage to Mary, daughter of the Duke of York, in the hope of making an ally of his uncle, Charles II, against his other uncle, Louis XIV. The Duke of York succeeded his brother as James II, but acceptance of his reign came to an end when his second wife, Mary of Modena gave birth to a son ,James Francis Edward Stuart,thus ensuring a future Catholic monarchy as the King had earlier converted to Roman Catholicism. To combat this prospect William and Mary were invited to England as alternative monarchs .William came with an army , although it was not one of conquest but to ensure Parliamentary government and the restoration of the Church of England .William was also encouraged in his actions by the
Grand Pensionary, Gaspar Fagel. James conveniently fled to France but both monarchs faced each other at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690. William's army consisted of 36,000 men two thirds of whom were Dutch, German and Danish. They were commanded by Marshal Schomberg and when he fell in action William took over command against the Duc de Lauzun
and James. William,always a lover of guns, as his apartments today in Hampton Court still testifies , was the better soldier and won the day while James went into exile.
William however was no lover of England but wanted what was best for Holland. For this purpose French hegemony in Europe would be further challenged during his reign. His was a great victory for England but not for Britain.James was still regarded as James VII of Scotland and Jacobite support continued well into the next century causing tragic dissent within the British Isles.
William never felt save on his throne and in 1696,Sir John Fenwick, was condemned to death by Bill of Attainder, although there was no evidence to indicate that he had plotted against the King's life. Five years later while out riding William was thrown from his horse which stumbled over a molehill and he died a few days later. The horse, Sorrel had belonged to Sir John which William had appropriated after his death. Thus, if not by a Jacobite gun it may be said that William III was killed by a Jacobite horse. He was succeeded by his sister-in-law, Queen Anne, who died without issue and and so ended the reign of the Stuart monarchs.

Michiel van der Leeuw   Link to this

A slight correction:
Louis XIV was no uncle of William III. Louis' marshall Turenne, however, was a cousin of his father William II, his father and Turenne's mother being halfbrother and -sister.

As Parliament was de facto the ruler of England, and William III had in the Netherlands more power than the stadholdership originally contained (a stadholder was a "servant" of the Provinces) it was said that he was king in the Netherlands an stadholder in England.

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