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Image result for William III of EnglandWilliam III (Willem; 4 November 1650 – 8 March 1702),[2] also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. It is a coincidence that his regnal number (III) was the same for both Orange and England. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II.[3] He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy".[4]

William inherited the principality of Orange from his father, William II, who died a week before William's birth. His mother, Mary, was the daughter of King Charles I of England. In 1677, he married his fifteen-year-old first cousin, Mary, the daughter of his maternal uncle James, Duke of York.

A Protestant, William participated in several wars against the powerful Catholic king of France, Louis XIV, in coalition with Protestant and Catholic powers in Europe. Many Protestants heralded him as a champion of their faith. In 1685, his Catholic father-in-law, James, Duke of York, became king of England, Ireland and Scotland. James's reign was unpopular with the Protestant majority in Britain. William, supported by a group of influential British political and religious leaders, invaded England in what became known as the "Glorious Revolution". On 5 November 1688, he landed at the southern English port of Brixham. James was deposed and William and Mary became joint sovereigns in his place. They reigned together until her death on 28 December 1694, after which William ruled as sole monarch.

William's reputation as a staunch Protestant enabled him to take power in Britain when many were fearful of a revival of Catholicism under James. William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is still commemorated by loyalists in Northern Ireland and Scotland. His reign in Britain marked the beginning of the transition from the personal rule of the Stuarts to the more Parliament-centred rule of the House of Hanover.

During the 1690s, rumours grew of William's alleged homosexual inclinations and led to the publication of many satirical pamphlets by his Jacobite detractors.[117] He did have several close male associates, including two Dutch courtiers to whom he granted English titles: Hans Willem Bentinck became Earl of Portland, and Arnold Joost van Keppel was created Earl of Albemarle. These relationships with male friends, and his apparent lack of mistresses, led William's enemies to suggest that he might prefer homosexual relationships. William's modern biographers disagree on the veracity of these allegations. Some believe there may have been truth to the rumours,[118] while others affirm that they were no more than figments of his enemies' imaginations, and that there was nothing unusual in someone childless like William adopting or evincing paternal affections for a younger man.[119]

Whatever the case, Bentinck's closeness to William did arouse jealousies in the Royal Court. William's young protegé, Keppel, aroused more gossip and suspicion, being 20 years William's junior, strikingly handsome, and having risen from being a royal page to an earldom with some ease.[120] Portland wrote to William in 1697 that "the kindness which your Majesty has for a young man, and the way in which you seem to authorise his liberties ... make the world say things I am ashamed to hear."[121] This, he said, was "tarnishing a reputation which has never before been subject to such accusations". William tersely dismissed these suggestions, however, saying, "It seems to me very extraordinary that it should be impossible to have esteem and regard for a young man without it being criminal."[121]

In 1702, William died of pneumonia, a complication from a broken collarbone following a fall from his horse, Sorrel. The horse had been confiscated from Sir John Fenwick, one of the Jacobites who had conspired against William.[130] Because his horse had stumbled into a mole's burrow, many Jacobites toasted "the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat".[131] Years later, Winston Churchill, in his A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, stated that the fall "opened the door to a troop of lurking foes".[132] William was buried in Westminster Abbey alongside his wife.[133] His sister-in-law, Anne, became queen regnant of England, Scotland and Ireland.


Westminster Abbey, London

William's death brought an end to the Dutch House of Orange, members of which had served as stadtholder of Holland and the majority of the other provinces of the Dutch Republic since the time of William the Silent (William I). The five provinces of which William III was stadtholder—Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijssel—all suspended the office after his death. Thus, he was the last patrilineal descendant of William I to be named stadtholder for the majority of the provinces. Under William III's will, John William Friso stood to inherit the Principality of Orange as well as several lordships in the Netherlands.[134] He was William's closest agnatic relative, as well as son of William's aunt Albertine Agnes. However, King Frederick I of Prussia also claimed the Principality as the senior cognatic heir, his mother Louise Henriette being Albertine Agnes's older sister.[135] Under the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), Frederick I's successor, Frederick William I of Prussia, ceded his territorial claim to King Louis XIV of France, keeping only a claim to the title. Friso's posthumous son, William IV, succeeded to the title at his birth in 1711; in the Treaty of Partition (1732) he agreed to share the title "Prince of Orange" with Frederick William.[136][137]


  1. William was declared King by the Parliament of England on 13 February 1689 and by the Parliament of Scotland on 11 April 1689.
  2. During William's lifetime, two calendars were in use in Europe: the Old Style Julian calendar in Britain and parts of Northern and Eastern Europe, and the New Style Gregorian calendar elsewhere, including William's birthplace in the Netherlands. At the time of William's birth, Gregorian dates were ten days ahead of Julian dates: thus William was born on 14 November 1650 by Gregorian reckoning, but on 4 November 1650 by Julian. At William's death, Gregorian dates were eleven days ahead of Julian dates. He died on 19 March 1702 by the Gregorian calendar, and on 8 March 1702 by the standard Julian calendar. (However, the English New Year fell on 25 March, so by English reckoning of the time, William died on 8 March 1701.) Unless otherwise noted, dates in this article follow the Julian calendar with New Year falling on 1 January.
  3. "Act of Union 1707, the Revolution in Scotland". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  4. Peter Burke (1997). Varieties of Cultural History. Cornell University Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-8014-8492-8.
  5. Claydon, 9
  6. Claydon, 14
  7. Troost, 26; van der Zee, 6–7
  8. Troost, 26
  9. Troost, 26–27. The Prussian prince was chosen because he could act as a neutral party mediating between the two women, but also because as a possible heir he was interested in protecting the Orange family fortune, which Amalia feared Mary would squander.
  10. Van der Kiste, 5–6; Troost, 27
  11. Troost, 34–37
  12. Rosalind K. Marshall, 'Mackenzie, Anna, countess of Balcarres and countess of Argyll (c.1621–1707)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 accessed 29 Nov 2014
  13. Troost, 27. The author may also have been Johan van den Kerckhoven. Ibid.
  14. Troost, 36–37
  15. Troost, 37–40
  16. Troost, 43
  17. Troost, 43–44
  18. Troost, 44
  19. Troost, 49
  20. Van der Kiste, 12–17
  21. Van der Kiste, 14–15
  22. In the province of Friesland that office was filled by William's uncle-by-marriage William Frederick, Prince of Nassau-Dietz.
  23. Troost, 29–30
  24. Troost, 41
  25. Troost, 52–53
  26. Van der Kiste, 16–17
  27. Troost, 57
  28. Troost, 53–54
  29. Troost, 59
  30. Troost, 60
  31. Troost, 62–64
  32. Van der Kiste, 18–20
  33. Troost, 64
  34. Troost, 65
  35. Troost, 66
  36. Troost, 67
  37. Troost, 65–66
  38. Troost, 74
  39. Troost, 78–83
  40. Troost, 76
  41. Troost, 80–81
  42. Troost, 75
  43. Troost, 85–86
  44. Troost, 89–90
  45. Rowen, H. H. (1986) John de Witt: Statesman of the "true Freedom", Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-52708-2, p. 222; Nijhoff, D. C. (1893) Staatkundige Geschiedenis van Nederland. Tweede Deel, pp. 92–93, and fn.4 p. 92; Fruin, Robert, "De schuld van Willem III en zijn vrienden aan den moord der gebroeders de Witt", in De Gids (1867), pp. 201–218
  46. Troost, 122
  47. Troost, 128–129
  48. Troost, 106–110
  49. Troost, 109
  50. Troost, 109–112
  51. Van der Kiste, 38–39
  52. Van der Kiste, 42–43
  53. Van der Kiste, 44–46
  54. Van der Kiste, 47
  55. Chapman, 86–93
  56. Van der Zee, 202–206
  57. Troost, 141–145
  58. Troost, 153–156
  59. Troost, 156–163
  60. Troost, 150–151
  61. Troost, 152–153
  62. Troost, 173–175
  63. Troost, 180–183
  64. Troost, 189
  65. Troost, 186
  66. e.g. Troost, 190
  67. Claydon, Tony (May 2008) [September 2004]. "William III and II (1650–1702)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 August 2008. (Subscription required)
  68. Troost, 191
  69. Troost, 191; van der Kiste, 91–92
  70. Van der Kiste, 91
  71. Troost, 193–196
  72. Troost, 200–203; van der Kiste, 102–103
  73. Van der Kiste, 105; Machiel Bosman, "De Roofkoning. Prins Willem III en de invasie van Engeland" (2016), pages 156, 214–16. The Spanish Armada counted 130 ships and 25,000 men
  74. Troost, 204–205
  75. Troost, 205–207
  76. Baxter, 242–246; Miller, 208
  77. Israel, Jonathan (2003). The Dutch role in the Glorious Revolution. Cambridge University Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-521-39075-3.
  78. "Legitimism in England". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  79. Davies, 614–615
  80. Troost, 207–210
  81. Davies, 469; Israel, 136
  82. Van der Kiste, 107–108
  83. Troost, 209
  84. Troost, 210–212
  85. Troost, 219–220
  86. Troost, 266–268
  87. Davies, 614–615. William was "William II" of Scotland, for there was only one previous Scottish king named William.
  88. Van der Kiste, 114–115
  89. Troost, 212–214
  90. "The Jacobite Heritage". Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  91. "Nonjurors". Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  92. "The Siege of Derry (1688–1689)". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  93. Due to the change to the Gregorian calendar, William's victory is commemorated annually by Northern Irish and Scottish Protestants on The Twelfth of July – cf. Troost, 278–280
  94. "The Battle of the Boyne (1689–1690)". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  95. Troost, 270–273
  96. Troost, 274–275
  97. "BBC – History – Scottish History – Restoration and Revolution (II)". The Making of the Union. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  98. "BBC – History – British History in depth: The Jacobite Cause". Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  99. Troost, 220–223
  100. Troost, 221
  101. Van der Zee, 296–297
  102. Troost, 222; van der Zee, 301–302
  103. Troost, 223–227
  104. Troost, 226
  105. Troost, 228–232
  106. Claydon, 129–131
  107. Van der Zee, 402–403
  108. Van der Zee, 414
  109. Troost, 239–241; van der Zee, 368–369
  110. Troost, 241–246
  111. Van der Kiste, 150–158
  112. Troost, 281–283
  113. Troost, 244–246
  114. Van der Kiste, 179–180
  115. Van der Kiste, 180–184
  116. Van der Kiste, 186–192; Troost, 226–237
  117. Black, J, ed. (1997), Culture and Society in Britain, Manchester, p. 97.
  118. Troost, 25–26; Van der Zee, 421–423
  119. Van der Kiste, 204–205; Baxter, 352; Falkner, James (2004), "Keppel, Arnold Joost van, first earl of Albemarle (1669/70–1718)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
  120. Van der Kiste, 201
  121. Van der Kiste, 202–203
  122. Troost, 251
  123. Troost, 253–255
  124. Troost, 255
  125. Troost, 256–257
  126. Troost, 258–260
  127. Troost, 260
  128. Troost, 234
  129. Troost, 235
  130. Van der Kiste, 251–254
  131. Van der Kiste, 255
  132. Churchill, 30–31
  133. "William III". Westminster Abbey Official site. Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  134. Israel, 959–960
  135. Israel, 962, 968
  136. Israel, 991–992
  137. "Text of the Treaty of Partition" (in French). Heraldica. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  138. Claydon, 3–4
  139. "Historical Chronology, 1618–1699". College of William and Mary. Archived from the original on 15 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  140. Craton, Michael; Saunders-Smith, Gail (1992). Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People. University of Georgia Press. p. 101. ISBN 0-8203-2122-2.
  141. "History of Nassau County". Nassau County website. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  142. Norris, Edwin Mark (1917). The Story of Princeton. Little, Brown. pp. 5–6.
  143. "The Dutch Under English Rule" The History of North America by Guy Carleton Lee Francis and Francis Newton Thorpe. Published 1904 by G. Barrie & Sons, p. 167
  144. Troost, 5
  145. S. and J. Sprint (1703). The life of William III. Late King of England, and Prince of Orange. Google eBoek (scanned version). p. 28. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  146. Troost, 77
  147. The Guinness Book of Answers. London: Guinness Publishing. 1991. p. 709. ISBN 0-85112-957-9.
  148. Pinches, John Harvey; Pinches, Rosemary (1974), The Royal Heraldry of England, Heraldry Today, Slough, Buckinghamshire: Hollen Street Press, pp. 191–192, ISBN 0-900455-25-X
  149. Maclagan, Michael; Louda, Jiří (1999). Line of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. London: Little, Brown & Co. pp. 29–30. ISBN 1-85605-469-1.
  150. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist (2003). Armorial general. vol. 2. Genealogical Publishing Co. p. 297. ISBN 0-8063-4811-9.
  151. Maclagan and Louda, pp. 27, 73