William and Mary
John Van der Kiste
Sutton, Stroud (UK), 2003
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William III and Mary II were the only joint reigning sovereigns in English history. They ascended the throne as a result of the Glorious Revolution of 1688-9 in England which deposed Mary's father, James II.
When Mary was told as a girl of 15 that she was going to marry her cousin William from Holland, she is said to have wept for a day and a half. In November 1677, on William's 27th birthday, their wedding took place in a private ceremony at St James's Palace, with a solemn bridegroom and a bride in floods of tears. Nevertheless it developed into a love match, though Mary was deeply saddened by her inability to bear her husband any children, and the fact that she and her husband had been partly responsible for deposing her father and sending him into exile always weighed heavily on her conscience.
Mary died in 1694 from smallpox and William, who was desolate at her death, reigned until 1702. This dual biography deals with their personal and political lives, covering William's rumoured homosexuality (almost certainly fabrication by his enemies, who had a vested interest in trying to disgrace him) and Mary's hinted-at lesbianism, Mary's troubled personal relations with her father, and the difficult relationship between Mary and her sister (and husband's successor) Anne.
Though theirs was a short reign of only thirteen years, it was a notable period in British history for the inauguration of the Declaration of Rights, triennial elections, and subsequent limits on the power and prerogative of the sovereign. It also saw Britain reaffirming her place as a European power, and helping other countries on the continent to act as a bulwark against the might of France.
The review of this Book prepared by John Van der Kiste