glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
William III, Prince of Orange, King of England (1650-1702)  

Speculations about William III's sexuality have been countered by his English and American biographers, who have been unwilling to entertain the idea that a man of his nobility of character and special historical significance could have loved other men. Dutch writers on the other hand have been much more willing to accept the evidence that William was, indeed, bisexual.

William was born at the Hague in 1650, the posthumous son of William II, who died a few days before he was born, and Mary Stuart, daughter of the late King Charles I of England, who had been deposed by English Parliamentarians. William was thus an important figure in European politics from the day of his birth, since he not only inherited his Dutch titles, but was fourth in line to inherit the British throne should it be restored.

Sponsor Message.

His claim to the British throne was reinforced in 1677, when he married the daughter of James, Duke of York, who was to succeed to the British monarchy in 1685.

William III acceded to the British throne when the English ousted James II in the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. He and his wife, Mary II, ruled together until her death in 1694. After her death, he ruled alone until he died in 1702. The couple was childless, so he was succeeded by Mary's sister Anne.

As "stadholder" (military commander) of the Dutch Republic, William had opposed the aggressions of Louis XIV that threatened the Netherlands and neighboring states. For this he was hailed by the Dutch as the "Redeemer of the Fatherland."

When he brought England into the coalition against France he became the acknowledged champion of Protestant Europe. It is this preeminence as an international hero that has made it hard for Anglophone admirers to candidly assess William's sexual orientation.

William had close and affectionate relations with two notable favorites, William Bentinck, whom he brought to England and made Earl of Portland, and a handsome younger Dutchman, Arnold van Keppel, whom he created Earl of Albemarle.

A spate of political satires accusing William of intimate relations with both men circulated during his reign. These scurrilous poems are quite explicit in their allegations, and are obviously the work of Tory partisans who favored James. For this reason they have been discounted by William's defenders.

One satire begins: "For the case, Sir, is such, / That the people think much, / That your love is Italian, your government Dutch. / Ah! Who would have thought that a Low-Country Stallion, / and a Protestant Prince should prove an Italian?" (Italy was the country most notably associated with in the seventeenth century.) Jonathan Swift also referred to William's "infamous pleasures" with Keppel in a manuscript note. All this has, however, been dismissed as the malicious gossip of Tory enemies.

Nevertheless, rumors were also rife among those favorable to the king. These include the redoubtable "Madame," Duchess of Orléans, who was married to France's most flamboyantly conspicuous homosexual, "Monsieur," and whose correspondence makes up a veritable encyclopedia of homosexuality in that country and England. Her letters are admiring of the king but speak repeatedly of "men who share King William's inclinations."

Rumors also circulated in the Dutch army, which was fanatically loyal to the house of Orange.

Most telling, however, are the remarks of Bishop Gilbert Burnet, who praised William unstintingly as "a person raised up by God to resist the power of France and the progress of tyranny and persecution." Yet in considering matters that might make it difficult for William to assume the English throne, Burnet refers to one "particular . . . too tender to be put in writing," which under the circumstances can only be interpreted as a reference to William's sexual nature.

To nineteenth-century liberal historians such as Thomas Macaulay, William III ranked as one of England's greatest kings for his fostering of religious and political liberty and for his leadership of the European nations who fought Louis XIV.

Louis Crompton

     

 
zoom in
King William III.
  
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Social Sciences
 
   
spacer
Popular Topics:

Literature

 
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Michelangelo Buonarroti


Byron, George Gordon, Lord
Byron, George Gordon, Lord


Modern Drama
Modern Drama


Camp
Camp


Selvadurai, Shyam


Musical Theater


African-American Literature: Gay Male
African-American Literature: Gay Male


Philippine Literature


St. Sebastian
St. Sebastian


Japanese Literature
Japanese Literature

 
 


   Related Entries
  
social sciences >> Overview:  Bisexuality

Although until recently rejected by most sexologists as a distinct sexual identity, bisexuality is gradually becoming recognized and studied as such.

literature >> Overview:  English Literature: Restoration and Eighteenth Century

Throughout the Restoration and eighteenth century, sodomitical characters were both presented and pilloried in literature.

social sciences >> Anne, Queen of England

The last of the Stuart monarchs, Anne, Queen of England, conducted romantic friendships with several women, including Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough.

social sciences >> Orléans, Philippe, Duke of

Known as "Monsieur," Philippe, Duke of Orléans lived in the shadow of his brother, Louis XIV, and is today remembered chiefly for his homosexuality.


    Bibliography
   

Burnet, Gilbert. Bishop Burnet's History of His Own Time. London: W. Smith, 1838.

_____. A Supplement to Bishop Burnet's History of My Own Time. H. C. Foxcroft, ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908.

Crompton, Louis. Homosexuality and Civilization. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2003.

Poems on Affairs of State: Augustan Satirical Verse 1660-1774. Vol. 5: 1688-1697. E. J. Cameron, ed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1971.

Robb, Nesca A. William of Orange: A Personal Portrait. 2 vols. London: W. Heinemann, 1962-1966.

Van der Cruysse, Dirk. Madame Palatine, princesse européenne. Paris: Fayard, 1988.

Van der Zee, Henri and Barbara. William and Mary. New York: Knopf, 1973.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Crompton, Louis  
    Entry Title: William III, Prince of Orange, King of England  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated January 26, 2004  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/william_III.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.