William was born in The Hague on 4th November 1650. His parents were Prince William III of Orange, Stadtholder of the Netherlands, and Mary Henrietta daughter of Charles I.
William was already Stadtholder, virtually a hereditary monarch, of the Netherlands. The throne was offered to him and Mary jointly, a unique arrangement, as Mary, daughter of James II was the actual heir but William insisted on being king. He ascended the Throne on 13th February 1689 He reigned alone after Mary's death. There was practically no resistance to William in England when he landed at Brixham, but the deposed James II invaded Ireland in 1689, provoking a bloody campaign that terminated in William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Supporters of James in Scotland were defeated at Killiecrankie and Dunkeld. William was a Dutch patriot with wide political horizons; his first commitment was to a European alliance against French aggrandizement. France became, and long remained, Britain's enemy too.
The revolution of 1688-9 was regarded as glorious because it was achieved without violence (in England anyway). The Bill of Rights, the constitutional settlement of 1689, represented the victory of parliamentary monarchy.
William's lifelong resistance to the mighty Louis XIV of France made him the Protestant champion of Europe. Though physically small and not strong, he proved himself a good soldier as well as a diplomat. He was never, however, very popular in England.
William died on 8th March 1702, a few days after a fall when his horse stumbled over a molehill. Jacobites used to toast the 'little gentleman in velvet' responsible for the accident.