Alternative History

Mary II (30 April 1662 – 1731) reigned as Queen of England and Ireland from 13 February 1689 until 1715 when she abdicated in favor of her son, and as Queen of Scots from 11 April 1689 until her abdication. Mary, a Protestant, came to the Throne following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of her Roman Catholic father, James II. Mary reigned jointly with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, and became sole ruler upon his death. Popular histories usually know the joint reign as that of "William and Mary". Mary, although a Sovereign in her own right, did not wield actual power during most of her reign. She did, however, govern the realm when her husband was abroad fighting wars, and later after his death until their son grew to manhood.

Early life

Mary, who was born in London, was the eldest daughter of the Duke of York (the future James II) and of his first wife, the Lady Anne Hyde. Mary's uncle was King Charles II; her maternal grandfather, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, served for a lengthy period as Charles's chief advisor. Although her parents bore eight children, only Mary and her younger sister Anne survived into adulthood.

The Duke of York converted to Roman Catholicism in 1668 or 1669, but Mary and Anne had a Protestant upbringing, pursuant to the command of Charles II. Mary's mother died in 1671; her father married again in 1673, taking as his second wife the Catholic Mary of Modena, also known as Mary Beatrice d'Este.

At the age of fifteen, Princess Mary became betrothed to the Protestant Stadtholder and Prince of Orange, William III. William was the son of her aunt, Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, and of Prince William II of Nassau. At first, Charles II opposed the alliance with a Dutch ruler — he preferred that Mary marry the heir to the French Throne, the Dauphin Louis — but afterwards approved, as a coalition with the Dutch became more politically favourable. Pressured by Parliament, the Duke of York agreed to the marriage, falsely assuming that it would improve his popularity amongst Protestants. The first cousins Mary and William married in London on 4 November 1677.

Mary went to the Netherlands, where she lived with her husband. She did not enjoy a happy marriage; her three pregnancies ended in miscarriage or stillbirth. She became popular with the Dutch people, but her husband neglected or even mistreated her. William long maintained an affair with Elizabeth Villiers, one of Mary's ladies-in-waiting.


From 1690 onwards, William often remained absent from England, at first fighting Jacobites in Ireland. Whilst her husband was away, Mary administered the government of the realm. She proved a firm ruler, ordering the arrest of her own uncle, Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Clarendon, for plotting to restore James II to the Throne. In 1692, she dismissed and imprisoned the influential John Churchill, 1st Earl of Marlborough on similar charges; the dismissal somewhat diminished her popularity and harmed her relationship with her sister Anne.

William had crushed the Irish Jacobites were crushed by about 1692, but he continued to sojourn abroad in order to wage war with the King of France, Louis XIV. In general, William was away from the spring until the autumn of each year. When her husband was away, Mary acted in her own name but on his advice; whilst he was in England, Mary completely refrained from interfering in political matters. She did, however, participate in the affairs of the Church; she found herself especially concerned with ecclesiastical appointments.

Sole Reign

In 1702, William III died, leaving Mary as sole ruler of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and passing his possessions in the Netherlands to his son. She, however, reigned as regent in the Netherlands, and abdicated her position as Queen upon her son's majority.

Preceded by:
James II and VII
Queen of England (with William III to 1702)
Succeeded by:
William IV and III
Queen of Scots (with William III to 1702)
Queen of Ireland (with William III to 1702)