WILLIAM III and MARY II (House of Orange and Stuart)
WILLIAM III and MARY II (House of Orange and Stuart) (co-ruled 13th February 1689 to 28th December 1694; William ruled 28th December 1694 to 8th March 1702).
William III was born on November 14th, 1650, in The Hague, Holland, He was the posthumous son of William II, prince of Orange and stadtholder of the Netherlands, and Mary, eldest daughter of the English King Charles I. In 1672, after the invasion of the Netherlands by the French King Louis XIV, William was elected stadtholder, captain-general, and admiral. Although William put up a spirited fight, the Dutch suffered severe reverses. However, as a result of William's superior diplomacy, which included the strengthening of ties with England by his marriage (1677) to the English princess Mary (eldest daughter of his uncle, James, Duke of York, later King James II), Louis XIV agreed to terminate the war on terms favourable to the Dutch.
Mary was born in St James's Palace, 30 April 1662. Her parents were James II and Anne Hyde. She married her Dutch cousin, William, at St James's Palace in 1677. Mary supported her husband's insistence that be should be king rather than merely consort. Unlike her sister Anne, Mary showed little sympathy for her father, whose throne she had usurped, partly because of their religious differences.
After the accession (1685) of James II there was fear in England that the king's policies were directed towards restoring the power of the Roman Catholic church. In July 1688, James's principal opponents secretly invited William, who was Europe's leading Protestant statesman, to bring an army of liberation to England. William and a force totaling about 15,000 men landed at Torbay on November 5, 1688. Most of the English nobility declared for William, and James fled to France. William accepted the Declaration of Rights passed by the Convention Parliament, which met on January 22nd, 1689, and on February 13th, William and Mary were proclaimed joint sovereigns of England.
Shortly after the conclusion of this Glorious Revolution, (regarded as glorious because it was achieved without violence), the Scottish parliament accepted the new rulers. Predominantly Catholic Ireland, however, remained loyal to the deposed king and had to be taken by force. In 1690 William led the army that defeated James and his Irish partisans at the Battle of the Boyne. William's reign continued to be marked by abortive Jacobite plots to restore James to the throne.
In 1689, in pursuit of containing France, William had brought England into the League of Augsburg, thereafter known as the Grand Alliance. For the next eight years he was embroiled in wars on the Continent. He managed by skilful diplomacy to hold the alliance together and, under the terms of the Peace of Ryswick, Louis XIV of France surrendered (1697) much of the territory he had won and recognized William as England's rightful king.
Mary died of smallpox at Kensington Palace, 28th December 1694. After that, William ruled alone.
In 1701 William headed the second Grand Alliance, which became involved in the so-called War of the Spanish Succession, although he died before he could take an active part in the struggle.
William died at Kensington Palace in March 1702, a few days after a fall when his horse stumbled over a molehill. His wife's sister, Queen Anne, succeeded to the throne.