In 1688, the Protestant stadholder William III was asked to help expel the English king. When he succeeded, he and his wife, Mary Stuart, were crowned king and queen. Stadholder William III was the first Orange monarch, albeit of England.
William III married his cousin, Mary Stuart, a member of England’s reigning royal house. Her father, James II, a Catholic, became king of England in 1685. Mary, a Protestant, was his heir. However, in 1688 a son was born and James II resolved to raise him as a Catholic. James’s opponents in England appealed to William III to expel his father-in-law. William embarked for England with a huge invasion force from Hellevoetsluis and James fled to France.
Yet James did not give up. With French assistance he continued the struggle in Ireland.
In 1690, the two sides met by the River Boyne. William inflicted a decisive defeat on his the Catholic opponents. The battle is still commemorated each year by Protestants in Northern Ireland as they march in celebration of their William of Orange. In the United Kingdom, William’s expulsion of James is known as the Glorious Revolution.
In 1689, William III and Mary II were crowned king and queen of England, Ireland and Scotland. William’s double role as king and stadholder had a major impact on international relations. Britain ceased to be a French ally under William III. The country became a member of the anti-French coalition which included the German emperor, Spain and the Dutch Republic. While William III reigned, the French king Louis XIV’s expansion plans were put on hold. William III died in 1702, after a riding accident. Mary II had died in 1694, aged 32. They had no children. William was succeeded in England by Mary’s sister Anne. No new stadholder was appointed in the Republic.
William III was not just a military and political powerbroker. He also enjoyed the grandeur that went with his status as stadholder and king. William was a lover of art. Mary had palaces built, decorated and furnished. They also had wonderful gardens laid out, both in the Republic and in England. Many artists were given an opportunity to show off their skills. William and Mary were major trendsetters in art and culture at the close of the 17th century.