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William III and Mary II

Reigned: 1688-1702


William III and Mary II

WILLIAM III
Born: 14 November 1650
Place: Binnenhof Palace, Holland
Reigned: 1688-1702
Coronation: 11 April 1689
Father: William II Of Orange (1626-1650)
Mother: Mary Stuart (1631-1660)
Spouse: Mary II (1662-1694)
Children: None
Religion: Protestant
Died: 8 March 1702
Place: Kensington Palace
Buried: Westminster Abbey
Successor: Queen Anne

MARY II
Born: 30 April 1662
Place: St James's Palace
Reigned: 1688-1694
Coronation: 11 April 1689
Father: James II (1633-1701)
Mother: Anne Hyde (1637-1671)
Spouse: William III (1650-1702)
Children: None
Religion: Protestant
Died: 28 December 1694
Place: Kensington Palace
Buried: Westminster Abbey
Successor: Queen Anne



William III and Mary II ruled Britain jointly after deposing King James II in what is known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Although Mary was James's daughter, she was a devoted Protestant, as was her husband, William (Prince of Orange), and many Parliamentarians and nobles wanted Mary to be monarch instead of her Roman Catholic father. In the autumn of 1688, after being asked by Parliament to take action against King James, William arrived in England with an army to depose him. James fled the country, abdicated, and Mary was invited to take the throne. However, Mary did not want to rule alone. She felt that her husband should be crowned instead (he was also a grandchild of King Charles I). But as William wanted the crown to pass to the next legitimate heir (which was Mary) and not claim the crown by conquest, a compromise was reached: Mary and William would rule jointly.

In 1690, Mary's father made an attempt to recover the throne, but was heavily defeated at the Battle of the Boyne. James was hurt by what he saw as a betrayal by his two Protestant daughters (his younger daughter Anne also supported his deposition) and disowned them both. Mary was troubled by her estrangement from her father, but felt it was her duty to put her God, country and husband first.

William was twelve years older than Mary and was the son of William II, Prince of Orange and Mary Stuart, daughter of King Charles I. He never knew his father as he died eight days before he was born from small pox. When William was ten his mother also caught this disease, while visiting her brother (King Charles II) in London, and died. William was raised a Protestant and by his thirties had become known as something of a Protestant Champion. His marriage to Mary was a political match and for many years their personal relationship was difficult. Mary was only 15 when they married and the marriage was very much against her will. It is said she wept throughout the ceremony! But Mary was deeply religious and always did her best to be a loving, dutiful wife. William, however, did not always try so hard to be a good husband and had several mistresses, including Elizabeth Villiers (Mary's lady in waiting). When they married, Mary went to live with her husband in the Netherlands and her outgoing personality made her very popular with the people. When she and William became King and Queen of Britain, she was always more popular than her husband. In fact, William is one of the most unpopular monarchs in British history.

When William was present in England, Mary let him rule, although she always took the lead in religious matters. But when he was on the continent, Mary ruled alone and did so very well. While their early marriage was difficult, William and Mary did come to care for each other deeply and William was devastated when Mary died of small pox at only 32 years of age. For the rest of his life he cherished a lock of her hair and her wedding ring. After her death in 1694 William ruled alone until he died after a fall from his horse in 1702. As William and Mary had no children, something that always grieved Mary, the crown passed to Mary's sister, Princess Anne.

It was during the reign of William and Mary that the important Bill of Rights (1689) was passed. This limited the power of the monarch considerably, increased the power of Parliament, and made it illegal for a British King or Queen to be a Roman Catholic (or even to marry one).

It was also during the reign of William and Mary that Hampton Court Palace was rebuilt. Much of the old Tudor Palace was knocked down and replaced with a magnificent baroque building designed by Christopher Wren.



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