Death of William of Orange
William of Orange on his accession to the throne in 1689 became William I of Ireland (though to many of the Protestants there he is King Billy, victor at the Battle of the Boyne ), William II of Scotland, and William III of England. It is said that he never truly came to love England, though he proved a more than serviceable King, his heart being in his Dutch homeland.
Once his wife Mary died in 1694, at the tender age of 32, William was left to rule alone. By the removal of James II and the installation by Parliament of William and Mary the era of Stuart absolutism was ended, and our modern constitutional monarchy began. William managed to embroil the country in conflicts with France, but in the dynastic confusion then covering the continent it would have been extremely difficult to have avoided this.
In Scotland William is perhaps most remembered for the terrible Glencoe Massacre , which, though an inquiry found to have been murder, went unpunished.
In England, though he had strengthened both army and navy, he was not well loved. There were slanderous rumours about the King and his relationship with Arnold van Keppel, a young man raised from obscurity as an attendant to be named Earl of Albemarle for unspecified services.
William was 52 when he died. He was not a well man, exhausted by years of government. In late February 1702 his horse Sorrel stumbled on a molehill and the King was thrown, breaking his collar-bone. Complications from the injury led to pneumonia and William's death on March 8 1702. Those of a Jacobite view rejoiced, and a new disloyal toast was added to their repertoire: " To the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat " honouring the mole who for them had assassinated the King.
William and Mary had no children, so the crown passed to Anne , Queen Mary's younger sister, already 37, and whose 17 children had all died young, the last in 1700. Resolution of the succession would further strengthen the power of Parliament.
More famous dates here
7812 views since 8th March 2008
On this day: