Mary II (b. 1662 r. 1689-1694)
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Mary II (b. 1662 r. 1689-1694)

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Her understanding, though very imperfectly cultivated, was quick. There was no want of feminine wit and shrewdness in her conversation; and her letters were so well expressed that they deserved to be well spelt.
T.B. Macaulay, History of England.

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Mary II (b. 1662 r. 1689-1694)

Mary, born in 1662, was the eldest daughter of James II by his first marriage to Anne Hyde. Mary was actually James' eldest child but because she had a baby half brother James Edward, who was therefore the rightful heir to the English throne, she was never brought up to expect to rule. In 1677 Mary was very reluctantly married to her first cousin William of Orange. She had two miscarriages over the next two years.

Because Mary and her husband William were Protestant, they were asked by Parliament to rescue the English monarchy from the hands of the Catholic James II. The people refused to allow another line of Catholic sovereigns, so in fact, the deposing of King James demonstrates how much power Parliament now had over the monarchy. At the end of June 1688 William and his army came to England to 'rescue the nation and the religion'. This has since come to be known as 'The Glorius Revolution'.

Mary refused to rule without William, although William insisted that this could only be so if he was declared King and not just Regent. Parliament had to accept this if they wanted a Protestant king, but even so, it was clear that they were now more powerful than the monarchy. Parliament proceeded to make certain of this by publishing The Declaration of Rights (which was later embodied in the 'Bill of Rights') which the two monarchs had to adhere to. The principal terms were;
1) that monarchs were not to be able to make or cancel laws, or have an army without parliamentary consent
2) that Parliament had to be summoned to meet regularly.
3) that no Catholic could become king or queen
4) that taxes were not to be raised without parliamentary consent.

In 1689 William and Mary became joint rulers for the first and only time in British history. James attempted to regain his crown in 1690 but William's forces defeated him. The Catholic countries of Europe became increasingly alarmed at England's Protestantism and they saw the loss of James' power to Parliament as setting a very dangerous example. Catholic France made war on England in 1691 in another attempt to restore James as king, but failed. In 1694 the Bank of England was established in an effort to provide finance for the war. This laid down the foundations for a secure system of credit for the government.

Mary caught smallpox and died aged 32 in 1694, William was devastated. He said that during the course of their marriage he had never known a single fault in her, and history has said the same. She was said to be sweet natured, completely devoted to her husband, and extremely gentle and loving. Advanced Category Search

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