Portrait of William III (1650-1702), Prince of Orange and Baron of Breda (1650-1702), Stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland (1672-1702), Stadtholder of Utrecht (1674-1702), Stadtholder of Guelders and Overijssel (1675-1702), King of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1689-1702), 1680
William III (Dutch: Willem; 4 November 1650 – 8 March 1702), also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from 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. 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. A Protestant, William participated in several wars against the powerful Catholic king of France, Louis XIV, in coalition with Protestant and Catholic powers in Europe. Many Protestants heralded him as a champion of their faith. In 1685, his Catholic father-in-law, James, Duke of York, became king of England, Ireland and Scotland. James's reign was unpopular with the Protestant majority in Britain. William, supported by a group of influential British political and religious leaders, invaded England in what became known as the "Glorious Revolution". On 5 November 1688, he landed at the southern English port of Brixham. James was deposed and William and Mary became joint sovereigns in his place. They reigned together until her death on 28 December 1694, after which William ruled as sole monarch. From early 1659, William spent seven years at the University of Leiden for a formal education. In 1667, as William III approached the age of 18, the Orangist party again attempted to bring him to power by securing for him the offices of stadtholder and Captain-General. To prevent the restoration of the influence of the House of Orange, De Witt, the leader of the States Party, allowed the pensionary of Haarlem, Gaspar Fagel, to induce the States of Holland to issue the Perpetual Edict.The Edict declared that the Captain-General or Admiral-General of the Netherlands could not serve as stadtholder in any province. Even so, William's supporters sought ways to enhance his prestige and, on 19 September 1668, the States of Zeeland appointed him as First Noble. To receive this honour, William had to escape the attention of his state tutors and travel secretly to Middelburg. A month later, Amalia allowed William to manage his own household and declared him to be of majority age. For the Dutch Republic, 1672 proved calamitous. It became known as the Rampjaar ("disaster year"), because in the Franco-Dutch War and the Third Anglo-Dutch War the Netherlands was invaded by France and its allies: England, Münster, and Cologne. Although the Anglo-French fleet was disabled by the Battle of Solebay, in June the French army quickly overran the provinces of Gelderland and Utrecht. On 14 June, William withdrew with the remnants of his field army into Holland, where the States had ordered the flooding of the Dutch Water Line on 8 June. Louis XIV of France, believing the war was over, began negotiations to extract as large a sum of money from the Dutch as possible. The presence of a large French army in the heart of the Republic caused a general panic, and the people turned against De Witt and his allies. On 4 July, the States of Holland appointed William stadtholder, and he took the oath five days later. The next day, a special envoy from Charles II, Lord Arlington, met with William in Nieuwerbrug and presented a proposal from Charles. In return for William's capitulation to England and France, Charles would make William Sovereign Prince of Holland, instead of stadtholder (a mere civil servant). When William refused, Arlington threatened that William would witness the end of the Republic's existence. William answered famously: "There is one way to avoid this: to die defending it in the last ditch." On 7 July, the inundations were complete and the further advance of the French army was effectively blocked. On 16 July, Zeeland offered the stadtholderate to William. Johan de Witt had been unable to function as Grand Pensionary after being wounded by an attempt on his life on 21 June. On 15 August, William published a letter from Charles, in which the English king stated that he had made war because of the aggression of the De Witt faction. The people thus incited, De Witt and his brother, Cornelis, were brutally murdered by an Orangist civil militia in The Hague on 20 August. Subsequently, William replaced many of the Dutch regents with his followers.
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