William III the Stadholder-king: A Political Biography
In Britain the name of William III is synonymous with sectarianism and Orangism. Ever since he burst onto the English political landscape in 1688 to take the throne of his catholic uncle, James II, William has tended to be viewed within a largely domestic
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I've been interested William III, the Stadholder-King, for years and always wished I could read a translation of a biography by a Dutch historian. I was delighted when I stumbled upon this translation of Wout Troost's biography. I found this political biography fascinating. For example, the information Troost presents on how politics in the Republic were determined more by conflict between local factions than by the conflict between the Orangist and States parties was a real eye opener for me. That was also true of the idea that William III and Louis XIV each saw the other as a warmonger.
I thought Troost presented an unbiased judgment in his assessment of William's involvement in the gruesome murder of the De Witt brothers. Troost states that "the Prince wanted to teach the brothers De Witt a lesson, but he did not foresee the consequences of publishing the letter [in which William refused to state Johan De Witt could not be held responsible for the weaknesses of the country's defense]. Given his youth, he cannot be blamed too harshly, but the fact remains that he shared in the guilt for the death of the brothers." It is easy to forget that William was only 21 at the time of the murders.
Troost's chapters on William's reign in Scotland and in Ireland were also very interesting since usually only the Glencoe massacre and William's campaign against his father-in-law/uncle in 1690 are discussed when Scotland and Ireland are mentioned. One wishes the Protestants of Northern Ireland would read the chapter on Ireland.
I was only disappointed once and that was with Troost's discussion of William's supposed homosexuality. I did not find his arguments that William was homosexual more persuasive than the earlier arguments of Baxter or Robb that he was not, particularly since Troost has to admit there is no absolute proof William was homosexual, just as there is no absolute proof he was not. William kept his private life private, so historians are never going to know the truth about that aspect of his life.
I can highly recommend this book to anyone interested in European history during the latter half of the seventeenth century.
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