Moving to London is more than moving house—it’s moving into a new culture with its own accumulation of history. I cannot even imagine what history lessons must be like here when I think of the millennia and monarchs to be covered versus the couple centuries of US history we were taught. From a homework standpoint, I’m very grateful for that, but as a lifelong learner I’m keen to expand my knowledge of other nations, which is why you get to delight in my mini-History 101 lessons here. 🙂
If you’re moving to London like I did myself a few years ago, come learn along with me…
If you’re researching moving to London and chanced upon my post last week, we saw the overthrow of King James II. He had become uncooperative with Parliament and messed about with private property and historic rights, not to mention converted to Catholicism and posed a threat to the national religion. Enter William III and Mary II. Mary is the daughter of James II and his first wife, born Protestant and thereby Parliament’s preferred choice to James’s younger, Catholic-born son. Though twelve years younger than William, she married him pursuant to foreign policy under Charles II‘s rule. Both grandchildren of Charles I, William and Mary are not only husband and wife but also first cousins. William’s Orange line of the family in the Netherlands does not have the same hereditary rights, but, on Mary’s insistence, in 1689 he is crowned King of England alongside her, the new Queen of England.
It wasn’t Parliament’s original intention to coronate both William III and Mary II; they really only want Mary. Mary by this point, though, is willingly subservient to her husband—though he’d repulsed her when the arranged marriage first came about, she’s grown to love him and kicks up her wifely duties in response to a long-term affair he held with one of her ladies in waiting. So the good wifey gets her husband a crown, but Parliament ends up effectively getting its way anyway: moving to London‘s palaces doesn’t make William an altogether permanent resident; he is more interested in military campaigns on the continent, leaving Mary to rule as regent in England, where she shares a mutual adoration with its people.
Originally called the “Declaration of Rights,” the Bill of Rights outlines Parliament’s grievances with James and new terms limiting the power of the monarchy and enhancing that of Parliament going forward, which William and Mary agree to in the spirit of preventing sovereign abuse of taxation, legislation, and religion. The Toleration Act of 1689 grants Protestant non-conformists the freedom to worship, but the same does not apply to Catholics; Catholics are also barred from ascending the throne to follow assertions of other Parliamentary rights (like forbidding wars without its consent) established by the Settlement Act of 1701. This last measure was in response to William’s costly conquests on the Continent in his “Grand Alliance” against France.
Mary II ultimately dies of smallpox in 1694, leaving William bereaved and ruling alone until 1702, when he himself dies after falling off a horse. They were childless, so join me next Sunday to find out who succeeds to the throne if you’re moving to London and eager to learn more about its substantial history.
Related sightseeing if you’re moving to London: Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace, where the monarchs resided (the latter is where William fatally fell of his horse), and Westminster Abbey where they were coronated.