Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reputations - William of Orange

Last evening the Reputations II series of lectures from the Department of History in Trinity College continued after a two week break with a lecture on William of Orange presented by Dr Robert Armstrong. This was a fascinating lecture with the theme of William as a European Statesman - there were many facts and interpretations of William that I had not known before. I was hooked on every word wonderfully presented by Dr Armstrong.

William of Orange.
Image link to Leibnitiana.
William of Orange (or William III) is mostly known to us Irish as the Protestant King who won the "Cogadh an Da Ri" (War of the two Kings) over the Catholic King James II. He was the victor at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and is remembered particularly in Northern Ireland by the Loyalist community there. He is not particularly remembered in any other country.

However, as Dr Armstrong told us, William was not really interested in Ireland (he only stayed here for a few months). Instead, he cared about England's position in Europe and the prevention of French dominance. He succeeded in keeping the Netherlands independent, though at a high territorial cost, from the French. When he invaded England in 1688, he may not have intended to become King. He was known to be religiously tolerant, but was also a private and cold person. He was almost constantly at war during his adult life, but was not an especially outstanding commander. His main aim in life seemed to be "Stop the French" and Louis XIV.

Overall - this was a memorable lecture on a leading European character who had a huge influence on Irish history.

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