William of Orange

William of Orange was declared King of Scotland, England and Ireland in 1689. This immediately followed the deposition of James VII and II; as a result, William and his wife Mary, who had been proclaimed Queen, were the first people that the Jacobites attempted to overthrow.

In 1672 the Dutch suffered the Year of Disaster known as Rampjaar. The French, English and Germans invaded. While fighting to defend the Dutch, William was made stadtholder in July. The following month, brothers Cornelis and Johan, powerful republican figures in Dutch politics, were brutally killed by Orange loyalists. To this day, opinions are divided as to how linked William was to the deaths. The Franco-Dutch War continued for another six years.

William of Orange

William of Orange and Louis XIV made peace, but remained very suspicious of one another. William also made peace with the English, and sought to marry his cousin Mary to solidify this peace and strengthen his position. Her father, James, Duke of York, was reluctant to marry his daughter to a Protestant, but was persuaded to let it happen by Protestant ministers and his brother Charles II, who had hopes that James’ consent would increase his popularity among Protestants. William and Mary married in 1677.

In 1685, Charles II died, and Mary’s father became James VII and II, making her the heiress to the throne. When people grew resentful of James’ policies, plans were made to get rid of him. William successfully invaded England, James was deposed and William and Mary were there to fill the vacant position. Initially it was suggested that Mary would rule alone, but William was adamant about not being a mere consort, and Mary wanted her husband to rule with her. Those who had originally been against it, acknowledging William’s claim as a grandson of Charles I, complied with their wishes. In 1689, they were crowned Mary II and William II and III.

Engraving of William and Mary

James attempted to fight back, but William’s forces defeated him at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and James fled to France. Together, William and Mary passed the Bill of Rights, which limited their power as sovereigns. It also excluded Catholics from the throne. William was viewed as overconfident by many of his subjects, and many Scottish people in particular viewed him negatively due to his actions surrounding the Glencoe Massacre, as well as the lack of support he offered Scotland for its Darien scheme, an attempt to become a world trading nation. There was a failed assassination attempt on William by the Jacobites in 1696.

William took a bigger role than his wife when it came to leadership, though she was regularly left to rule on her own when he was fighting on the continent. The Jacobites viewed her as an ungrateful daughter, but to others she was likeable due to her warmth and generosity. Mary died of smallpox in 1694.

Mary and William had had no children, and William never remarried. Mary’s sister Anne was heiress to the throne, but by 1701, despite her many pregnancies, none of her children still lived. This lead to the Act of Settlement, which, ignoring the excluded Catholic Stuarts, stated that if Anne were to die childless, the throne would pass to Sophia of Hanover and her descendants.

In 1702, William’s horse stumbled on a mole’s burrow at Hampton Court Park. William fell off the horse and broke his collarbone. His health deteriorated, and he died from pneumonia. He was buried in Westminster Abbey alongside his wife. The Jacobites did not mourn him, and as the fall at the burrow was believed to have been the source of William’s decline, toasts were made to the mole – the “gentlemen in the black velvet waistcoat”.

We hope you enjoyed this post, as always please like, share, comment and tweet.

All the best, The Culloden Team


Mary II

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 II

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.

William III

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.