Mary II of England Biography

(Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1689 - 1694))

Birthday: April 30, 1662 (Taurus)

Born In: London, England

Mary II was the daughter of former King James II, who served as the joint sovereign of England, Scotland and Ireland along with her husband King William. Being the eldest child of James and Anne, Mary II since young became second in line to the throne, after her father. Following the death of her uncle, her father stepped up as the King of England but his pro-Catholic policies made him an unpopular ruler so much so that the opposition influenced William and Mary to depose him off. James exile created a vacancy at the topmost order which was duly filled by Mary as queen regnant. However, Mary despised political life and wanted her husband William to take control. It was due to this that a Declaration of Indulgence was signed which made both William and Mary joint sovereigns. It was under their leadership that the significantly important Bill of Rights was passed that marginalized the sovereign powers. Though William controlled the rule mostly, it was in his absence that Mary’s role as queen regnant came to light. She was powerful, firm and effective ruler. She was capable of taking important decisions but mostly turned to William for either approval or advice. Other than this, Mary was deeply religious and a pious woman. She attended prayers twice daily and actively involved herself in Church affairs

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In April

Died At Age: 32


Spouse/Ex-: William III of England

father: James II of England

mother: Anne Hyde

siblings: Anne, Catherine Stuart, Charles Stuart, Duke of Cambridge, Duke of Kendal, Edgar Stuart, Henrietta Stuart, James Stuart, Queen of Great Britain

Born Country: England

Empresses & Queens British Women

Died on: December 28, 1694

place of death: London, England

City: London, England

Cause of Death: Smallpox

Childhood & Early Life
Mary was born on April 30, 1662 at St James’ Palace, London, to James, Duke of York and Anne Hyde. She was baptised in Anglican faith unlike her father who converted to catholic. She had a younger sister, Anne. Her uncle, Charles II was the King of England.
Since King Charles II had no legitimate children of his own, Mary, since young, became second in line to the throne, after her father. For most of her childhood, she and her sister Anne were raised at Richmond Palace by their governess. Occasionally, the girls met their parents and grandparents.
Mary was educated by private tutors. Moreover, she was trained in dance, music and drawing. Following the death of her mother, her father remarried Mary of Modena.
At a young age, Mary was betrothed to Protestant Stadtholder of Holland, William of Orange. She was unhappy with the alliance but had no choice but to accept. The marriage took place in 1677.
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Accession & Reign
Following the death of King Charles II in 1685, Mary’s father James, Duke of York served as the King of England, Ireland and Scotland. His accession was opposed by the former King’s illegitimate son, Monmouth who enforced an invasion but the latter was defeated, captured and executed.
King James’ controversial pro-catholic policies led to a constitutional crisis. Through the Declaration of Indulgence, he granted freedom of religion to Catholics by suspending acts of parliament by royal decree. This made King James highly unpopular amongst politicians and noblemen who turned in favour of Mary and William.
The birth of King James’ son, James Francis Edward created an alarm amongst the Protestants who feared the boy’s inheritance and virtual turning of the state from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism. Adding to the woes was the gossip that the son born was not King James and Queen Mary’s child but a baby secretly smuggled by the King to assure a Catholic succession.
James’ opponent invited Mary and William to come to England with an army of their own and depose King James. Though William was reluctant of the move as it would make his wife Mary II powerful than him, he eventually agreed after Mary assured him that she would do all in her capacity to make him the King. She also assured him that she would abide by him and obey him
William, along with his army, reached the British shores in November 1688. He issued a declaration in which he claimed King James’ son as illegitimate and a ‘pretended Prince of Wales’. Fearing defeat, James fled to France, where he lived in exile until his death. Mary on the other hand was in a dilemma of whether to care for her father or dutifully support her husband.
Following James’s exile, a convention parliament was called for by William to determine the future course of action. As per the norms, Mary was the rightful hereditary heir to the throne who should succeed as the sole monarch of the British Kingdom. However, Mary did not wish to be a queen regnant. On the other hand, William wished to reign as a King and not be a mere consort to Queen Mary. Furthermore, his supporters claimed that a husband could not be subject to his wife.
The complexity of the situation to determine the ruler of the British Empire ended on February 13, 1689 when the Parliament passed the important Declaration of Right, according to which Parliament offered the Crown to William and Mary as joint sovereigns.
It was the second time in history that a joint monarchy ruled in the form of William and Mary. However, William’s powers were unrestricted, unlike in the earlier case. He would serve as the King even after his wife's death and exercised full regal powers in all matters. 8On April 11, 1689, William and Mary were crowned together by the Bishop of London at Westminster Abbey. A month later, they accepted the Scottish crown.
Under William and Mary’s reign, the Bill of Rights was introduced in the parliament in 1689. It became one of the most important constitutional documents as it limited sovereign powers. It forbade suspension of laws passed by the parliament, enforcing acts without parliamentary consent such as levying of taxes, infringing the right to petition, denying the right to bear arms to Protestant subjects, unduly interfering with parliamentary elections or inflicting cruel or unusual punishments. All in all, it reaffirmed parliamentary powers.
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The Bill of Rights also confirmed the line of succession to the British throne, according to which following the death of either William or Mary, the other would continue to reign. He/she would be followed by their children. Next in line of succession would be Anne and her children who would later be followed by any children William might have had from any subsequent marriage.
William directed military campaigns in Ireland and on the Continent during the decade of 1690. In his absence, Mary took over as the Queen regnant. During the little time that Mary took the political powers in her hand, she proved to be a firm ruler. She ordered arrest of her uncle, Henry Hyde for plotting against her and William and even dismissed the influential John Churchill on similar charges.
A devout Protestant, Mary was deeply religious. She attended prayers twice a day and participated in the affairs of the Church. Matters concerning ecclesiastical patronage by and large passed through her.
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Major Works
It was under Mary II’s reign that the Bill of Rights came into existence. The bill limited the power of the sovereignty and instead reaffirmed parliamentary powers. Following the execution of the Bill of Rights, the sovereign had restricted rights. It could not challenge parliamentary laws, levy taxes without parliamentary consent, interfere in the parliamentary election and right to petition, inflict cruel punishment and deny rights to bear arms to Protestant subjects.
Personal Life & Legacy
At the age of fifteen, Mary was engaged to William of Orange, her cousin and fourth in line to the throne. The proposed alliance was initially unapproved by King Charles II, who wanted Mary to marry Dauphin Louis, heir to the French throne. However, he later agreed to it after pressure from the Parliament.
Mary and William were married on November 4, 1677 in St James’ Palace by Bishop Henry Compton. She became a devoted wife and was popular within the Dutch circle due to her amicable personality.
Mary underwent a miscarriage early in her marriage. This incident probably impaired her ability to have children and thus, the couple remained childless.
Mary was a healthy and fit woman. However, this stability was marred by the infliction of smallpox in late 1694. She breathed her last on December 28, 1694. William was devastated by her death.
Her body lay in state before being buried at Westminster Abbey on March 5, 1695. Her funeral was attended by members of both the Houses.

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