Friday, 19 November 2021

A Monarch A Month - William III and Mary II

Hi all!

The monarchs are back!!!

It's been six months since I last posted a monarch, but hopefully they're back now. I'm not going to try to catch up, just pick up and carry on from where I left off.

This month we have William III and Mary II, Monarchs 29 and 30, generally considered as ruling together as simply William and Mary. I have no idea why William is upside down; he doesn't seem to have been mad (by royal standards!) or full of whacky ideas, so it's a mystery.

William III and Mary II from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 7th May 2021
Finished - 21st May 2021
Total stitching time - 11 hours 55 minutes

And since these are also at the end of a row, here's the whole project so far:

Because there are two monarchs this month, I'm allowing myself a 450 instead of my usual 300 word limit; it's only fair (although I have sort of cheated by adding lots of waffly footnotes!)

Preceded by James II (brother-in-law and brother)
Succeeded by Anne (sister-in-law and sister)
Lived - William 1650-1702, Mary 1662-1694
Reigned - William 1689-1702, Mary 1689-1694
Married - 1677
Children - none

William III and Mary II became King and Queen following the deposition of James II in 1688.

They were cousins (Mary's father and William's mother were siblings) and had married in 1677 when Mary was second and William fourth in line to the throne (note 1).

England and the English nobles were restless with James II and his promotion of Catholicism, so wanted the devoutly Protestant Mary to take the crown (note 2).

So, with an invitation to invade, and lots of English support, William and Mary easily deposed James II in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Two of their first tasks were to clarify the role of the monarch and confirm the Protestant line of succession.

The Declaration Of Right agreed the monarch could no longer use their Royal Prerogative to do things without parliamentary consent (thereby reneging the Divine Right Of Kings) whilst the Bill Of Rights stated that no heir who was Catholic or who married a Catholic could ascend the throne (which made sense as the monarch was head of the Church Of England so shouldn't be Catholic anyway) (note 3).

But ousted James II and his son, Prince James, still had support from Catholic France and from some people who were Catholic or believed in the Divine Right Of Kings.

These supporters - known as Jacobites - made various attempts to restore James to the throne but all were easily quashed, including the defeat of James by William in the 1690 Battle Of The Boyne.

France finally withdrew its support for James and Prince James in 1697 and formally recognised William as King.

William and Mary were popular monarchs, accepting the role of Parliament, instigating religious tolerance, and improving the country's economy with the formation of the (still going today) Bank of England in 1694.

But, despite being recognised as particularly competent when she took over from William when he was away, Mary's poor relationship with her sister and her inability to bear children often made her unhappy.

Mary died in 1694 from smallpox and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

William was devastated but sympathy, along with his popularity, soon waned as Jacobite propaganda that William preferred the company of his favourite men (nothing was proven) took hold.

In 1701, with neither him nor his heir, Anne, having children and the end of the Protestant Stuart dynasty in sight, The Act Of Settlement was drawn up to ensure Protestant succession (note 4).

William died in 1702 from pneumonia and is buried alongside his wife.

note 1
The succession after James II should have been:
 - his son James (and then his children)
 - his daughter Mary
 - his daughter Anne
 - his nephew William
By William marrying Mary and becoming King he leap-frogged over Anne (which did not go down well with her!) and they both leap-frogged over James (who was Catholic).

note 2
Being higher in the line of succession, Mary should have been sole monarch. However, she was not really interested in being Queen, nor in having political power, whereas William was, as he did not simply want to be the 'Queen's Consort'. Since Mary agreed to defer to him, the English nobles came to a compromise where William and Mary would reign as joint monarchs (the only time this has happened).

note 3
The 1698 Bill Of Rights and 1701 Act Of Settlement remained unchanged for over 300 years until the 2015 Perth Agreement in which it became law that those who married Catholics would no longer be excluded from the line of succession (although Catholics still would be) meaning that, for example, Prince Michael Of Kent, who had forfeited his place in order to marry a Roman Catholic, has now been restored to the line of succession (although he is so far down the line - 52nd - it doesn't make a significant difference).

note 4
Between the Bill Of Rights and The Act Of Settlement, the line of succession after William and Mary was established as:
 - William and Mary's children (there were none)
 - Anne (Mary's sister)
 - Anne's children (there were no surviving children after 1700)
 - any children William should have from a second marriage (Mary had already died but it was unlikely William would remarry and have children)
 - Sophia, Electress of Hanover *
 - Sophia's Protestant children (which is how we ended up with George I)

* Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover, was (depending on sources) somewhere between 50th and 56th in line to the throne at the time of the 1701 Act of Settlement. She was, however the the first qualifying Protestant and had a distant claim, being a granddaughter of James I and Anne's first cousin once removed. Unfortunately for her, she died three month before William so never became Queen. The succession therefore passed to her eldest son, George, who became George I after the death of William's successor, Queen Anne.

Confused??? Sorry, but I find this much over-looked part of British history absolutely fascinating!

So next month, William's sister-in-law and cousin, Anne (and I promise it will be much shorter!)

Take care,
Rachel x


  1. Nice to see the Monarchs back but what a complicated family tree! I read an interesting book by Laura Purcell about the end of Queen Anne's reign called Mistress of the Court. It's not an era you find in fiction so much. Unlike all the Tudor books!

  2. Great to see them back out. Interesting lesson. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh, very interesting! There is a lot to unpack with how that happened. I always kind of wondered why I'd heard of William and Mary, but not any other dual monarchs.

  4. So glad to see the Monarchs are back from their vacation time!

    These Monarchs are so cut throat! Very interesting how the people decide that they are tired if one ruler and they just take over and kick them out. It is very interesting how they jump from one Monarch to the next. So the Perth Agreement says they had to put them back in the line of succession but it is only for appearance sake only?

    Confused...why YES I am!

  5. I kind of like the concept of a jointly-ruling couple of monarchs, shame it only happened once. But boy, were the British tired of Catholics if they went to such lengths to ensure protestant succession of the throne!

    Glad to see your monarchs back. Probably smart to not try and get caught up, too much playing catch up can get frustrating!

  6. Just a little bit confusing, much easier to figure out in today's world!
    They are both very colourful and all of them together look great.


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