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William as King

But noting that William was not a constitutional monarch as we would know it today is not to say he was not meticulous in observing the obligations he entered into under the Declaration and then the bill of Rights. In 1698 a very foolish House of Commons wanted to cut down the size of the Army to a mere 7000 in England. They also decided to send home his beloved Blue Dutch Foot guards, Catholic and Protestant, the first to enter London and the first to plunge into the waters of the Boyne in 1690. William did not react as a Stuart king might have. He did not suspend or prorogue the Parliament.
He wrote instead what he believed would be his last speech from the throne, a speech which contained a statement as melancholy as the abdication speech of Edward VIII :

“I came into this kingdom, at the desire of the nation, to save it from ruin, and to preserve your religion, your laws and your liberties. And for that end, I have been obliged to maintain a long and burdensome war for this kingdom, which, by the grace of god, and the bravery of this nation, is at present ended in a good peace, under which you may live happily and in quiet , provided you will contribute towards your own security in the manner I have recommended to you, at the opening of the sessions.”

They had not, so he would go.

But when he read his speech to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Somers, he pleaded with the King:

“This is extravagance, Sir, this is madness. I implore Your Majesty for the sake of your own honour, not to say to anybody else what you have said to me.”

Reluctantly, William re-considered his position and accepted Somers advice.

In 1700 Louis XIV broke his word in the Partition Treaties and allowed the vacant Spanish throne to be taken by the second son of the Dauphin, Phillipe, Duke of Anjou. The Spanish Ambassador fell to his knees and clasping the Duke’s hand, said “The Pyrenees have ceased to exist.” 

The House of Commons foolishly recognized Phillipe, even trying to impeach the ministers concerned in the partition treaties, Somers, Portland, Halifax and Oxford. Fortunately the House of Lords acquitted them. With the House of Commons undermining, more through stupidity than treachery, William’s; the balance of power strategy, Louis XIV occupied the Spanish Netherlands.

But when five gentlemen of Kent , fearing invasion, petitioned Parliament to provide for the adequate defence of the Realm they were arrested.
The brave Daniel Defoe, guarded by sixteen ‘gentlemen of quality”, strode in to the Commons and handed the Speaker his ‘Legion’s Memorial’ reminding them they were the elected servants of the people. 

The nation demanded, writes historian Bryan Bevan, that ‘if the King of France would not listen to reason, King William must be asked to declare war on him.”

The Lords, differing for the Commons, implored the King to act.
The result was Treaty of Grand Alliance and the War of Spanish Succession 1701-1714).
As a consequence, France's dominance over continental Europe ended, with William’s concept of the balance of power recognized in the Treaty of Utrecht.

 

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