William III: Part I

J.P. Kenyon profiles William III, of whom Hallam said: “It must ever be an honour to the English Crown that it has been worn by so great a man.”

The Whig view of men and events in the later seventeenth century is now largely accepted; that is, few serious writers would argue that James II was a wise and beneficient ruler, or deny that the Revolution that removed him was, broadly speaking, justified. Yet the praise lavished on King William III by a succession of Whig historians—Hallam, Trevelyan, Macaulay, Ogg—has evoked remarkably little response.

He has no full biography in English; and, compared with Elizabeth, Charles I, or even Charles II, he is unremembered. No eccentric clergy hold memorial services on his behalf, though he did at least as much for the Anglican Church as Charles the Martyr; he tries no axe’s edge in the schoolboy’s eye; no incident in his life is common knowledge.

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