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 "Remember" 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

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.