William III of England

William III (William Henry; Dutch: Willem Hendrik; 4 November 1650  8 March 1702),[lower-alpha 2] also widely known as William of Orange, was the sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s, and King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II.[1] He is sometimes informally known as "King Billy" in Ireland and Scotland.[2] His victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is commemorated by Unionists, who display orange colours in his honour. He ruled Britain alongside his wife and cousin, Queen Mary II, and popular histories usually refer to their reign as that of "William and Mary".

William III
Portrait by Godfrey Kneller, 1690
King of England, Scotland, and Ireland
Reign1689[lower-alpha 1] – 8 March 1702
Coronation11 April 1689
PredecessorJames II & VII
SuccessorAnne
Co-monarchMary II (1689–1694)
Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel
Reign4 July 1672 – 8 March 1702
PredecessorFirst Stadtholderless period
SuccessorSecond Stadtholderless period
Prince of Orange
Reign4 November 1650[lower-alpha 2] 
8 March 1702
PredecessorWilliam II
SuccessorJohn William Friso (titular)
Born4 November 1650
[NS: 14 November 1650][lower-alpha 2]
Binnenhof, The Hague, Dutch Republic
Died8 March 1702 (aged 51)
[NS: 19 March 1702]
Kensington Palace, Middlesex, Kingdom of England
Burial12 April 1702
Spouse
(m. 1677; died 1694)
Names
William Henry
Dutch: Willem Hendrik
House
FatherWilliam II, Prince of Orange
MotherMary, Princess Royal
ReligionProtestant
Signature

William was the only child of William II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal, the daughter of King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His father died a week before his birth, making William III the prince of Orange from birth. In 1677, he married his cousin Mary, the eldest daughter of his maternal uncle James, Duke of York, the younger brother and later successor of King Charles II.

A Protestant, William participated in several wars against the powerful Catholic French ruler Louis XIV in coalition with both Protestant and Catholic powers in Europe. Many Protestants heralded William as a champion of their faith. In 1685, his Catholic uncle and father-in-law, James, became king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. James's reign was unpopular with the Protestant majority in Britain, who feared a revival of Catholicism. Supported by a group of influential British political and religious leaders, William invaded England in what became known as the Glorious Revolution. In 1688, he landed at the south-western English port of Brixham; James was deposed shortly afterward.

William's reputation as a staunch Protestant enabled him and his wife to take power. During the early years of his reign, William was occupied abroad with the Nine Years' War (1688–1697), leaving Mary to govern Britain alone. She died in 1694. In 1696 the Jacobites, a faction loyal to the deposed James, plotted unsuccessfully to assassinate William and restore James to the throne. William's lack of children and the death in 1700 of his nephew Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, the son of his sister-in-law Anne, threatened the Protestant succession. The danger was averted by placing distant relatives, the Protestant Hanoverians, in line to the throne with the Act of Settlement 1701. Upon his death in 1702, the king was succeeded in Britain by Anne and as titular Prince of Orange by his cousin John William Friso, beginning the Second Stadtholderless period.


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