The daughter of James II, Mary and her husband William of Orange became co-rulers of England after the 'Glorious Revolution'.
Mary was born on 30 April 1662, the eldest daughter of James, Duke of York and his first wife Anne Hyde. James converted to Catholicism at the end of the 1660s, but Mary and her sister Anne were raised as Protestants. In November 1677, Mary married her Dutch cousin William, Prince of Orange and went to the Netherlands to live with him.
In 1685, Mary's uncle Charles II died and her father became king. His pro-Catholic policies provoked a constitutional crisis. In June 1688, James's second wife gave birth to a son who, it was feared, would inherit the throne as another Catholic monarch. James's opponents invited William of Orange to England and he landed with an army in November 1688. James fled the following month. Mary insisted that she and William rule as joint monarchs and in April 1689, they were crowned together in Westminster Abbey.
The new king and queen accepted legislation to ensure such a crisis could not recur. The Bill of Rights of 1689 limited the sovereign's power, reaffirmed parliament's claim to control taxation and legislation, and provided guarantees against the abuses of power which James II and the other Stuart kings were perceived to have committed. Catholics were excluded from becoming monarch. The Toleration Act of 1689 gave Protestant non-conformists, but not Catholics, freedom of worship.
While William was directing military campaigns in Ireland (1690 - 1691) and on the Continent (1692 - 1694), Mary governed as regent, but she relied entirely on her husband's advice. In the periods when William was in England she willingly retired from politics.
Mary enjoyed great popularity, but continued to be deeply troubled by her estrangement from her deposed father. She died of smallpox on 28 December 1694 leaving William to rule alone. Their childlessness, and that of Mary's sister Anne, again threw open the question of the succession. The 1701 Act of Settlement was designed to secure the Protestant succession to the throne by nominating Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover, who was descended from James I, and her heirs as successors to the British throne.
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