The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. — Abraham Lincoln

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

William's Wars

Although the Whigs had welcomed William III. and Mary II., King James had kept some friends in England. These did not believe, as did most of the Protestants, that his child was an adopted one which he passed off as his own merely to make sure the crown should not go to his Protestant daughters. As they wanted James back, he came with a small French army, and landed in Ireland, where most of the people were Catholics and Jacobites. He first tried to take Londonderry, one of the few Irish towns which were in the hands of William's party. The siege lasted one hundred and five days; but although the people suffered untold agonies from famine, and ate cats, dogs, rats, and old leather, they would not yield.

Finally an English vessel with provisions was sent to Londonderry's relief, and forced its way through the enemy's fleet. Shortly after this William himself came over to Ireland, and met James on the banks of the Boyne. Here William's best officer, General Schomberg, was killed, and William himself narrowly escaped a like fate.

The battle raged fiercely, and James, who was watching it from afar, kept wringing his hands and crying, "Oh, spare my English subjects!" William, having already taken part in many battles, showed such coolness and courage on this day that he won a great victory. He also won the admiration of the Irish; for when taunted by an English soldier, an Irish captive promptly said: "Exchange kings with us, and we will fight you again."

James in the meantime fled from the battlefield of Boyne, and did not draw rein until he came to a place of safety. Here, in answer to a question put to him by an Irish lady, he pettishly said: "Madam, your countrymen have fled." "Yes," she answered promptly; "but I see your majesty has outstripped them all!"

As there was no hope for him in Ireland, James went back to France to collect new troops. The French fleet had won a slight victory at Beachy Head, but it was defeated later on by the Dutch and English at La Hogue.

The rebellion in Scotland and Ireland being quelled, William left Mary in England to govern with the aid of her council, and went back to Holland, where war awaited him. For while James was trying to recover his throne in Ireland, his allies, the French, were making war against the Protestants in Germany, the friends of the Dutch.

This war between the French and the English extended even to America, where it was known as King William's War. It was concluded, however, a few years after the battle of La Hogue, by the treaty of Ryswick (1697), wherein Louis XIV. recognized William and Mary as rulers of England and promised never to help the Jacobites again.

Queen Mary having died of smallpox, William now became sole king. One of the first acts of Parliament in his reign was to give the newspapers full freedom and allow them to say anything they pleased, a privilege which had been denied them until then.

When James II. died, the French king broke the promises made in the treaty of Ryswick; for he at once proclaimed James's son to be King of England, under the name of James III. But the English remained faithful to William, and always spoke of the young prince as the Pretender, under which name he is best known in history.

The English soon declared war against France; for not only did the French support the Pretender, but they had also placed a French prince upon the throne of Spain, in spite of an agreement they had made not to do so Parliament voted large sums of money for this War of the Spanish Succession, and William was eagerly looking forward to taking part in it, when he was thrown from his horse, and died a few days later from his fall.


Front Matter

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee