Mary II was joint sovereign of England, Scotland and Ireland with her husband William from 1689 until her death in 1694 and we felt it only fair to give her a blog post to discover a little more about her.
Mary was born in 1662 and was the eldest daughter of James II & VII. She married William in 1677 and it is safe to say that initially she wasn’t too happy about the pairing. Mary was betrothed to William of Orange (her cousin) when she was fifteen and when first told of the arrangement she apparently wept for an entire day. The pairing was a political and diplomatic move and William was not the most desirable of people. Mary’s sister Anne referred to him as the ‘Caliban’ in reference to a hideous Greek ogre. The wedding finally took place in 1677 with Mary crying through the whole occasion before she travelled with William to the Netherlands. Whilst the marriage may have started off on shaky ground it eventually grew to become a strong partnership. Sadly though the couple never had any children. Mary miscarried at least twice in 1678 and following this was unable to have children of her own.
When James II & VII became King of England and Scotland in 1685 many were not happy and as early as 1686 it was reported that some disgruntled politicians and noblemen were in contact with Mary’s husband.William eventually agreed to invade and challenge the throne in 1688 and on 11th April 1689 William and Mary were jointly crowned at Westminster Abbey and accepted the Scottish crown the following month. Shortly after the coronation Mary received a letter from her father, James II & VII, which apparently disowned her and placed a fathers curse upon her.
During their time as joint monarchs William and Mary passed the Bill of Rights which limited the sovereign’s power and provided guarantees against the abuses of power which James II and the other Stuart kings were perceived to have committed, as well as excluding Catholics from becoming monarchs. William never inspired the loyalty of his English subjects and was always dismissed as an arrogant foreigner but Mary was more widely liked due to her generous and warm nature.
Late in 1694 Mary contracted smallpox and in order to prevent the infection spreading sent away anyone who had not had the disease. This included her sister Anne who offered to see her sister but Mary insisted she stay away, not least because she was pregnant at the time. Mary finally succumbed to the illness on 28th December 1694. William who had come to rely on Mary was apparently devastated. He had lost both his parents to smallpox and now his wife.
Mary was widely mourned across Britain although there are some who say Jacobites saw her death as devine retribution for breaking the fifth comandment, ‘Honor thy father’. Her funeral cost an estimated £50,000 and was the first of any royal to be attended by all members of both Houses of Parliament. When she died Henry Purcell prepared music especially for her funeral entitled ‘Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary’. Interestingly an electronic version of this music was used by Stanley Kubrick for the main theme to his film ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Mary was buried in a vault in the south aisle of Henry VII’s chapel, not far from her mother Anne.
We hope you enjoyed this look at Mary II as always please like, follow, tweet, comment and keep discovering more about Scotlands history.
All the best, K & D.