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Mary II

(1662—1694) queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland


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(1662–94),

queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1689–94). Mary was the elder daughter of James, duke of York, by his first wife Anne Hyde, daughter of the earl of Clarendon, Charles II's first lord chancellor. Her parents did not convert to catholicism until the end of the 1660s, and she and her sister Anne (born 1665) were brought up as protestants. Their protestant faith remained central to the sisters' lives. Mary was tall, of striking beauty and winning charm. Her marriage to her cousin William of Orange in 1677 initially filled Mary with misgivings; and it proved childless. But she overcame her reservations, and though William was unfaithful to her they shared a taste for simple domesticity.

Mary's willing submission to William ensured that he held the executive power in the joint monarchy. Her relations with Anne were cool owing to Anne's intense resentment at William being joint monarch. Mary acted as regent during William's prolonged absences in Ireland and on the continent 1690–4. Her death from smallpox in December 1694 was widely mourned, not least by the king himself.


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