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One this date in History: February 13, 1689. William III-II & Mary III declared joint sovereigns of England, Scotland and Ireland.

William III (Dutch: Willem; November 4, 1650 – March 8, 1702), also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orangefrom 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. He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as “King Billy”.

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.


Mary II (April 30, 1662 – December 28, 1694) was joint monarch of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III of Orange, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the adoption of the English Bill of Rights and the deposition of her Roman Catholic father, James II-VII. William became sole ruler upon her death in 1694. Popular histories usually refer to their joint reign as that of “William and Mary”.

Mary, born at St James’s Palace in London on 30 April 1662, was the eldest daughter of the Duke of York (the future King James II-VII), and his first wife, Anne Hyde. Mary’s uncle was King Charles II, who ruled the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland; her maternal grandfather, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, served for a lengthy period as Charles’s chief advisor. She was baptised into the Anglican faith in the Chapel Royal at St James’s, and was named after her ancestor, Mary, Queen of Scots. Her godparents included her father’s cousin, Prince Rupert of the Rhine. Although her mother bore eight children, all except Mary and her younger sister Anne died very young, and King Charles II had no legitimate children. Consequently, for most of her childhood, Mary was second in line to the throne after her father.


The Glorious Revolution of 1688 was when Parliament became supreme and limited the power of the Crown.

The Revolution resolved the struggle between Crown and Parliament and it also helped settle the religious struggles within the country. Basically at its heart it was a revolution that deposed King James II-VII of England and Scotland. In 1679 Parliament wanted to exclude James from the succession due to his Catholicism. To be Catholic in a Protestant England at that time was troublesome even if you were the king. During his reign James did not do what others feared, nor what his predecessor Mary I did, and tried to revive Catholicism and make it the official religion of England. No, James did what his brother Charles II did and promoted religious tolerance. Sadly these enlightened kingly brothers were way ahead of their times. England had little tolerance for religious tolerance if that religious tolerance included acceptance of Catholics.

What kept James II-VII on his throne was the knowledge that eventually his Protestant daughter, Princess Mary, would succeed him. Mary was married to her first cousin Prince William III of Orange, who was next in line to the throne after Mary and her sister, Princess Anne.

In 1673 as the Duke of York, James married his second wife, Mary Beatrice d’Este of Modena, the elder child of Alfonso IV, Duke of Modena, and his wife, Laura Martinozzi. The new Duchess of York was a devout Catholic and numerous pregnancies ended in either miscarriages or sickly children that did not live long which seemed to assure a Protestant succession. However, after James came to the throne Mary-Beatrice delivered a healthy son, Prince James Francis Edward, shortly thereafter created Prince of Wales. This solidified the fact that the successor to James II-VII would be another Catholic king. This was not acceptable to many people including Parliament and Prince William III of Orange himself who was considerably anti-Catholic and did not want to see his wife’s chance on the throne (and his) slip away.


It is interesting to note that historians greatly debate whether or not the birth of a Catholic Prince of Wales was the reason for James being overthrown. The truth it seems is that James was so unpopular that William III of Orange was planning to invade England prior to the birth of the Catholic heir. William did not want to be seen as an invader and therefore asked members of Parliament to conduct an act of treason by inviting him to come to England and take the throne. When seven brave members of Parliament achieved this honor, William began assembling his fleet and waited for the right moment to invade. When France was engaged in a battle in Germany William sailed his fleet to England and came ashore on 5/15 November 1688. James II-VII showed little resistance and on December 10, 1688 the king, queen and Prince of Wales fled to France.

With James II-VII now exiled in France William took control of the provisional government and called for a Conventional Parliament. His legal right to do so was questionable but this was a time of revolution. This new Parliament consisted of many loyal monarchists who had sat in Parliament under Charles II. The English Convention Parliament was very divided on the issue of who should wear the crown. The radical Whigs in the Lower House proposed to elect Willem as a king (meaning that his power would be derived from the people); the moderates wanted an acclamation of William and Mary together; the Tories wanted to make him regent only and acclaim Mary as Queen.

On January 28 a committee of the whole House of Commons promptly decided by acclamation that James II-VII had broken “the original contract” had “abdicated the government” and had left the throne “vacant.” The House of Lords rejected the wording of the acclimation and what followed were weeks of debate on the wording of the acclimation and who should be the monarch. Princess Anne, next-in-line after her sister, declared that she would temporarily waive her right to the crown should Mary die before William. Mary, for her part, refused to be made queen without William as king by her side, paving the way for the inevitable mounting of the throne of William III of Orange onto the English & Scottish thrones. The Lords on February 6 changed their minds and avoiding a possible civil war now accepted the words “abdication” and “vacancy.” in the House of Commons acclimation.

On February 13, 1689 Willem III of Orange along with his wife were offered the Crown by Parliament and then became joint sovereigns as King William III-II and Queen Mary II of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Parliament had decided the succession and the power to name the monarch and regulate the succession has been in their hands ever since.