** British royalty Queen Mary II Mary Stuart William and Mary

English Royalty: Mary II--Mary Stuart (1662-94)

Figure 1.--.

Mary Stuart was the daughter of James II and Anne Hyde. She was born in 1662 in exile during Cromwell's Protecorate. Her uncle Charles II insisted she marry William of Orange to help sunstantiate an alliance with the Dutch who were also opposing Louis XIV's expansionist policies. Mary and William did not produce any heirs. Mary died at a very young age of smallpox in London during 1694. While brief, her reign and subsequent parlimentary action firmly established the Protestant stamp on the English monarchy. The reign of Mary II and William III meant the end of royal prerogative and efforts to establish royal absolutism. After William and Mary it would be Parliament that would increasingly dominate English Government. Control of Parlialent would be contested by the merchant backed Whigs .


Mary Stuart was the daughter of King James II and Anne Hyde. James father was King Charles I (1600- ). His mother was French Princess Henrietta Maria de Bourbon (1609- ). Mary's mother was the daughter of Edward Hyde, Earl of Claredon (1609- ) and Frances Aylesbury.


Mary was born in 1662 at St. James Pallace during Cromwell's Protecorate.

Childhood Clothing

Marriage (1677)

The marriage with William was arranged by Frederik Hendrik, the Stadtholder of the Netherlands and father of the groom. Mary's uncle Charles II insisted she marry William of Orange to help sunstantiate an alliance with the Dutch who were also opposing Louis XIV's expanonist policies. Princess Mary objected to the marriage. She was only 12 years of age and when she met William, thought him repulsive. They were married at St. James Palace in London, but moved to Holland where as a young girl was very homesick. Gradually Mary developed a close attachment to Wlliam as well as her new home. while living in Holland,

William of Orange (1650-1701)

Like Mary, William of Orange was a Stuart. His father was William II de Nassau, Prince of Orange (1625- ). His mother was English Princess Royal Mary Henrietta Stuart (1631- ), a daughter of Charles I.

Van Dyck (1599-1641)

The wonderful portrait here of Prince William and Princess Mary was painted by Dutch artist Antoon Van Dyck


Mary and William did not produce any heirs.


William has a long-term relationship with Elizabeth Villiers who was one of Mary's ladies-in-waiting. Elizabeth helped changed Mary's initial opinion of William. Mary became devoted to her husband and deferred to him on matters of state. William for his part often seem cold to Mary, but many historians believe a deep affection developed on his part as well and he grieved profound upon her untimly death.

James II

Mary's father, James II, became king in 1685. He was the second surviving son of Charles I. His father had been executed by Cromwell, but he and his elder brother Charles fled to France for saftey. James inherited the throne from his elder brother, Charles II, in 1685. He was known as James II in England, but James VII of Scotland. His brother had quarlled with Parliament and covertly accepted money from France, but was cautious on the religious issue. James ignored his brother's advise and not only quarled with Parliament, but persued militant Catholic policies. Englnd having endured the Civil war and Cromwell's Protectorate was not eger for another ontitutional crisis, but James in 1688 produced exactly this. James recklessly in only 3 years alienated virtually every important political and military group in the kingdom. James negotiated an alliance with Catholic France, the historic enemy of England. He then declared that he was a Catholic, abandoned Anglicanism, and ordered the arrest Church of England Archbishop Sancroft and six bishops who supported the Archbishop in refusing to proclaim adherence to Catholicism. James attempted to appoint Catholic officers in the army. He also appointed Cathlholic officials in his Government and to pack parliament with Catholic supporters. He reserected the Dispensing Power. This was the recognized royal prerogative to suspend laws passed by Parliament. James was trying to evade the Act of Uniformity and the Test Act. James issued the Declaration of Indulgence (1687-88) suspending penal legislation against religious nonconformity. This allowed Dissenters to worship openly and Catholics to worship rivately. James was on his assumption childless. Many Englishmen were prepared to endure his monarchy with the expectation that his Protetant daughter Mary would succeed him. This changed with the nnouncement that his wife was pregnant which meant that there would be a Catholic heir.

The Glorious Revolution

The birth of James II's son who he was determined to raise a Catholic, combined with his reckless policies, precipitated the Glorious Revolution. James' son was born in June 1688. Protestants could no longer count on a Protestan heir from James' first Protestnt marriage. This meant that James was founding an overtly Catholic dynasty that would promote a return to Catholocism. This treatened the position of the Englih Protestant aristocracy as well as the overwelming population of the yeomanry which were no firmly Protestant. Important Protestant statesmen, inncluding the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill) who had supported James, invited William of Orange, who had married James's Protestnt daughter Mary, to assume the throne as a co-soverign with his wife. William landed a Dutch army at Torbay in November 1688 and was immediatly joined by Protestant forces. William pledged to defend traditional English liberties and Protestantism. William and his Protestant English allies marched unopposed on London. James having alienated potential supporters was forced to flee the city. He was captured by fishermen and turned over to William. As James was his father-in-law, William allowed him to go into exile in France where he was given refugee by Louis XIV in France. Mary seems to have had no remorse concerning her role in the dethronement of her father. When William arrived in London, Parliament met, denounced James, and offered the crown to William and Mary as joint sovereigns. Parliament also enacted important constitutional limitations on the English monarchy. This ended forever the Stuart insistence on a French-style absolute monarchy.

The Crown

Parliament was unsure how to proceed when King James fled and then abdicated. Most wanted Mary Stuart on the throne, but not Prince William. William was a descendent of Cjarles I, but was still a forign prince. Most in Parliament conceived William as a kind of Prince Consort, the role Parliament would two centuries later relegate to Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert. Princess Mary who by this time had become very attavhed to her husband and accepted a subservient role in their marriage, refused Parliament's offer. William although he commanded a victorious army, composed largely of Dutch forces, saw that it would in the long run be dangerous to seize the throne by conquest. In addition, his interested and alegiance was primarily with Holland. Parliament eventually accepted the terms demanded by William and Mary, recognizing that both had claims to the throne by birthright.


william and Nary were co-rulers. It was Mary, however, who their reign developed played a dominant role in ruling England. William's primary interest was his native Holland and the unfolding Protestant-Catholic and dynastic conflicts on the continent. William in fact went back to Holland, leaving Mary to rule in England. He spent much of his reign there participating in the great battles against Catholicism. William had little interest in England and the English people. Mary on the other hand had a deep love of her native land and became emensely popular with the English people. One contemporary assessment of the two was: "She seems to be of a good nature, and that she takes nothing to heart; whilst the Prince her husband has a thoughtful countenance, is wonderfully serious and silent, and seems to treat all persons alike gravely, and to be very intent on affairs: Holland, Ireland, and France calling for his care."

Battle of the Boyne (1690)

King James abdicated, but back in France had second thoughts. Louis XIV provided him a force of French infantry with which he invaded Ireland. Ireland was still Catholic and many supported King James. James French-Irish army met William's Protestant army at the Battle of the Boyne and was thoroughly defeated. This was James's last real effort to reclaim his throne, although he conrinued plotting until his death in 1701. The Irish defeat at the Boyne was a dissaster for the Irish people.

English Politics

The modern English political system began to take shape after the Glorious Revolution. Parliament was split between Whigs and Torries. The Whigs represented the merchant class and after the onset of the Industial Revolution would promote economic expansion. . The Torries represented the land holding aristocracy. While these two nascent political parties duffered on commerce and economic issues and on Puritan-Anglican tensions, they solidly believed in the supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy and the need to irradicate Catholic influence, especially in government.

Bill of Rights (1689)

Parliament took major steps to firmly establish its supremecy in English Government. Parliament declared the Dispensing Power reserected by King James illegal. This was the recognized royal prerogative to suspend laws passed by Parliament. Parliament fundamentally changed the character of theEnglish Government. Parliament enacted the Bill of Rights (1689). It was a law that significantly limited royal authority that had been the foundation of Tudor-Stuart authority. The could not maintain a standing army without parliament's expressed permission. The monarchy was given an income of �600,000--a paltry sum compared to the funds available to Louis XIV accroos the Channel. Additional grants were made by Parliament for specific purposes, but the monrchy had to request these appropriations. Another new law, the Mutiny Act ensured that Parliament would not lose control of the Army as its budget had to be approved annully. Parliament also chartered the The Bank of England to finance the Government.

The Settlement Act (1701)

Parliament's last step to establish its supremecy over the monarchy was The Settlement Act of 1701. Parliment had grown weary of what had become known as King William's War. This was a series of engagements fought by William on the Continent to protect Protestant states and resist the expansionary moves by Louis XIV. This had proven expensive as was being financed in large measure by English taxes. Parliament in the Settlement established the principal that the monarch cold not conduct a war without parlimentary consent. The Settlement Act took several other steps aimed at William. Members of the Commons and non-English subjects were prohibited from holding public office. The Monarch's choice of ministrers would have to be approved by Parliament. Judges could no longer be removed and punished by the monarchs. Judges could only be impeached by the Commons with no possibility of royal pardon. In addition, Parliament acquired the right to determine the succession. All of James II's Cathloic children that he had with Mary of Modena were excluded from the succession. After Queen Anne, Mary's younger siter, the crown would descend on Sophia, granddaughter of James I and niece of Charles I, through marriage to the German Protestant House of Hanover. Parliament thus effectiveley ended the accession of another Catholic monarch.


Mary died at a very young age of smallpox in London during 1694. While brief, her reign firmly established the Protestant stamp on the English monarchy.


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Created: July 28, 2003
Last updated: July 28, 2003