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Reclaiming England's European Past

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Between 10 and 11 o'clock on the night of December 17th 1688, the Dutch Guards under Count von Solms replaced the Coldstream Guards under Lord Craven at Whitehall, Somerset House and St. James’s. The most momentous Changing of the Guard in English history was proof that William of Orange was master of England – and that England had been claimed for Europe. For the 'Glorious Revolution' was a European enterprise, which would not have succeeded without William's European army of Dutch, English, Scottish, German, Danish and Huguenot troops (and the German and Swedish troops hired to guard the Netherlands while he was in England). His goal was European: to use the resources of England to save 'the liberty of Europe' and check the territorial expansion of France.

English resentment of William Ill's foreign troops (large numbers of whom remained until 1697) and 'Dutch junto' could be violent: his own sister-in-law, Anne called the king 'the Dutch abortion'. However, this European prince did succeed in winning English support for the war against France, and in transforming England into a European great power. The Grand Alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor and the Netherlands outlasted William III. The army which the Duke of Marlborough led to victory at Blenheim and Ramillies was a European army.


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