Friday, November 4, 2011

William of Orange

Last year’s post covered William of Orange’s marriage to Mary Stuart (November 4, 1677).  November 4 was important to William for another reason: it was his birthday.  The year was 1650, making him just 27 when he and Mary wed.  The eldest son of the daughter (also a Mary Stuart) of Charles I of England was never far from the Stuart’s domain.  Sir Walter Scott portrays some of the background for William’s eventual ascendancy to the English throne in his “Tales of a Grandfather”.

‘When the Duke of York ascended the throne on the death of his brother Charles, he assumed the title of James II. of England, and James VII. of Scotland. His eldest daughter, Mary (whom he had by his first wife), was married to William, Prince of Orange, the Stadtholder or President of tfce Dutch United Provinces; a Prince of great wisdom, sense, and courage, distinguished by the share he had taken in opposing the ambition of France. He was now next heir to the crown of England, unless the King, his father-in-law, should have a surviving son by his present Queen, Mary of Este. It was natural to conclude, that the Prince of Orange viewed with the most intense interest the various revolutions and changes of disposition which took place in a kingdom where he possessed so deep a stake. It did not escape remark, that the Duke of Monmouth, the Earl of Argyle, and the various malcontents who were compelled to fly from England or Scotland, seemed to find support, as well as refuge, in Holland. On this subject James made several remonstrances to his son-in-law, which the Prince evaded, by alleging that a free state, like the Dutch republic, could not shut its ports against fugitives, of whatever description; and with such excuses James was obliged to remain satisfied. Nevertheless, the enemies of the monarch were so completely subdued, both in Scotland and England, that no prince in Europe seemed more firmly seated upon his throne…’

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