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William and Mary - 1689-1702

Key Facts about William and Mary

When William was approached by the English Parliament he was already a powerful figure in his own land as Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland. For William the crown of England had the advantage of a powerful alliance which would protect the north flank of his Dutch domains.

It is doubtful that he felt any other tie with a country that had been a rival on the seas. William was, however, an intelligent man and a good manager and was determined to make his new domain as successful as possible. He began by trying to eliminate the religious friction which James had stirred up, by a Toleration Act which guaranteed freedom of Catholic worship. He followed this with a Mutiny Bill which made all private armies illegal unless approved by Parliament.

In 1692 William was faced with a Jacobite rebellion led by James II and was obliged to repel the invaders at the Battle of the Boyne, north of Dublin, in which he personally took charge, forcing a Jacobite retreat. He wisely followed this by attending a mass at Dublin Cathedral and declaring himself in favour of religious freedom for Catholics by the Treaty of Limerick. This military truce lasted until 1697.

William's reign was not simply marked by religious compromise and wars, however, for his presence attracted Dutchmen to England. They continued the work instigated by James I in East Anglia, of turning wet fenland into an agriculturally wealthy area thanks to their long experience in draining the land by means of ditches and embankments.

William's influence also became evident in English architecture which erupted in neat brick houses with rounded gables.William's most notable contribution was the extension of Hampton Court Palace, on the banks of the Thames, where Christopher Wren added a Classical brick facade on the east and south sides of the Fountain

Court. He also commissioned the Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich on the site of the former Tudor palace.

Key Events during the Reign of William and Mary

1689 - Parliament draws up the Declaration of Right detailing the unconstitutional acts of James II. Upon acceptance of this declaration, William and Mary become joint sovereigns. Toleration Act.

First Mutiny Bill passed. Scottish rebellion against William put down. Catholic Forces loyal to James II land in Ireland from France and lay siege to Londonderry.

1690 - William defeats James at the Battle of the Boyne (1 July).

1691 - Treaty of Limerick. Outbreak of French war.

1692 - Lloyds insurance office opens in London.

1693 - National debt set up.

1694 - Foundation of the Bank of England. Death of Mary, William now rules alone.

1697- Peace of Ryswick ends war with France.

1701- James II dies in exile in France.

1702 - War of Spanish Succession breaks out in Europe, over the vacant Spanish throne.

1702 - William dies after falling from his horse. He is succeeded by his sister-in-law Anne.

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