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William III

King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Born at The Hague, he was thoroughly educated at Leyden, raised a Calvinist (though religiously tolerant), and proved himself an iron-willed soldier-politician. From his birth until 1672 the Republican party dominated Dutch politics; when France invaded the United Provinces, the Republicans, who stood for appeasement, were overthrown and William appointed stadholder and captain-general for life. He managed the war defense successfully and dedicated his life to foiling Louis XIV’s plans of European hegemony. To that end he married Mary, daughter of the future James II of England, in 1677. When the latter succeeded his brother Charles II and pursued pro-French and pro-Catholic policies, William was invited by English nobles to take the throne. He did; James fled. William and Mary were crowned as joint monarchs in 1689. William decisively influenced religious and political affairs, and though he was dead by 1702 after a fall from his horse, he brought his country to greatness in Europe by helping to seal the downfall of France in the War of the Spanish Succession.