THE LIFE OF WILLIAM II.
Prince of Orange.
THis Prince was born in the year 1626, the States General were his Godfathers, and by the appointment of his Father was called William, after the name of his Illustri∣ous Grandfather.
In the year 1630 this young Prince was declared General of the Cavalry of the Low Countries, and the year following the States granted him the Survivorship of the Government of their Province.
He was no sooner of Age to bear Arms, but he followed his Father to the Army, and was present at the Siege of Breda, giving Page 204 great proofs of his Courage, though but 13 years old.
Immediately upon the death of his Fa∣ther Frederick Henry, he took the Oath of Fidelity to the States, for the Government, of which they had granted him the Re∣version.
All Europe was in a profound Peace up∣on conclusion of the Treaty at Munster, which was done the next year after Prince Frederick Henry's death. The States con∣sidering the vast Debts they had contract∣ed by the extraordinary Expences they had been obliged to make, resolved to retrench all unnecessary ones; having a great num∣ber of Troops in their pay that were of no use now the War was at an end, they pro∣posed to disband a considerable part of them.
William the Second, who had succeeded in all the Places of the Prince his Father, and knowing very well that nothing but the Army could support the credit of the Places he was possessed of, made a strong opposition to this design of the States Ge∣neral: He represented that it was against all the Rules of Policy to disband Troops who had been so faithful to the Provinces, and that France or Spain might make use of this opportunity to fall upon their Common∣wealth, in a time when they could not be in a condition to defend themselves. The Page 205States, who were already resolved to break 120 Companies; to make some sort of satisfaction to the Prince, offered to conti∣nue the ordinary Pay to the disbanded Offi∣cers: The Prince agreed to this proposal; but the Province of Guelders and the City of Amsterdam opposed and protested against it for several reasons. They who were in the Prince's Interests, advised him to visit the principal Cities of the Netherlands, to perswade the Magistrates to take a Resolu∣tion of leaving not only the Officers, but the Troops in the same condition they were in before the War, that they might be in a readiness to serve where-ever there was occasion.
Pursuant to this advice, the Prince having sent for the principal Collonels of the Army, went in person to four or fiveCities of Hol∣land; The Burghers of Amsterdam, who were well assured that the Prince would visit them too, and apprehending his presence would cross the Resolutions they had taken; desired him by their Deputies to put off his intended Journey to this City, for several Reasons which they gave him: Haerlem, Medemblic, and several other places followed the Example of Amsterdam.
The Proceedings of these Cities was so considerable an Affliction to the Prince, and incensed him so much, that in a meet∣ing of the States General, he resented it Page 206 with inexpressible concern: He endeavour∣ed to insinuate to them by a great number of Reasons, that the Affront they had put upon him, in refusing to give him Audi∣ence, was designed only to lessen his Au∣thority; that nothing but a publick satis∣faction would make him amends for this Affront; which he demanded earnestly of the States. The Deputies of Amsterdam, and other Cities, answered this Remon∣strance by a long Manifesto, wherein they alledged the Reasons that induced them to make the Prince that Request; this touch∣ed him to the quick, and made him con∣tinue more obstinate against disbanding the Souldiers; and transported him so much, that he Arrested six of the principal Magi∣strates, and sent them Prisoners immedi∣ately after into the Castle of Lovestein.
This violent proceeding of the Prince alarm'd all Holland. The people were gene∣rally apprehensive that he aspired to the Soveraignty of the United Provinces, and that he opposed the disbanding the Troops for no other reason. All Europe said some∣thing, and tho probably the Prince had no such design, the attempt that he made upon Amsterdam, confirmed the suspicions all men had entertained of him, that he was too arrogant to obey the orders of a popular Government: But those who judge impar∣tially of this action, are of opinion, that Page 207 he never aim'd at making himself King, and that he had no other prospect in besieging Amsterdam, but to revenge some private affronts, and support his authority and credit by humbling such a powerful City. Whatever his reasons were, he resolved to besiege it, and actually perform'd it on the 30th of Iuly, 1650; he narrowly miss'd of surprizing it, for the Citizens had not the least apprehension of such a design. The Troops appointed for this enterprize put their orders so punctually in execution, and met so exactly at their rendezvous, that the City must unavoidably have fallen into the Prince's hands, but for the Hamburgh Courier who passed through the Prince's Army without being perceived, and gave timely notice of it to the Magistrates. The City immediately took the alarm, the Council of Thirty six met, the Burghers run to their Arms, the Bridges were drawn up, the Cannon mounted upon the Ram∣parts, and the City put in a posture of defence; Deputies were dispatched to the Prince with proposals which took up all the next day, which was done to gain time for the opening of their Sluces. The Prince seeing all the Country under water, and the impossibility of continuing a long Siege, and the firm resolution of the Burghers, hearkened to a Treaty of accommodation, Page 208 which was concluded three days after; very much to his advantage.
The Prince was sensible the States would resent this attempt, and the better to make his peace with them, he released the Prisoners out of the Castle of Lovestein, upon condi∣tion that they should be for ever unqualified for any public employments or places, and at the same time presented a Memorial to the States with a particular account of the motives he had to form this Siege. The States sent it back without opening it, assuring him that there needed no justifi∣cation, since the difference had been so soon adjusted. About a month after the Prince assisted at a particular Assembly in the Dutchy of Guelders, where by his prudence and good conduct he entirely quieted all the jealousies they had enter∣tained of him. He returned to the Hague about the beginning of November, and went to bed very weary with his Journey. He had been observed to be melancholy ever since the miscarriage of his design upon Am∣sterdam, for which reason the Court was not alarm'd with this little indisposition. He was let blood the next day, and the day after the Small Pox appeared, and proved so violent, that the Physicians be∣lieved him in danger; he died the 6th day, in the Twenty fourth year of his age, on the 6th of November, 1650.
Page 209 There wanted but three things to make his memory immortal, viz. The Continu∣ation of the War, which he passionately desired, a longer Life, and a little more Deference to the State, whom he treated with too much authority; for he was Master of a great many good qualities, and eminently possessed the advantages of body and mind. He was a great General, and would have been as renowned for all civil and military vertues, as the Heroes of his Family. He had a vast comprehensive Genius, and learned in his Youth the Mathematics, and spoke English, French, Italian, Spanish, and High Dutch, as readily and fluently as his Mother Tongue. He was buried at Delf in the magnificent Tomb of the Princes of Orange in great state.
He married Mary Stuart, eldest Daughter to Charles I. King of Great Britain. An Illustrious Birth, Interest of State, and Glory, are the three ordinary motives which sway Princes in the choice of their alliances, and all three concur in the making this match; for the Glory of the immortal actions of his Father Frederick were spread over all Europe. William his Son had given a Thousand proofs that he did not degene∣rate from the Valour and Vertue of his Ancestors? and the Family of Nassau, had given five Electors to Cologne and Ments, and an Emperor to Germany.
Page 210 The proposals were no sooner made, but they were accepted, and the Marriage was celebrated at London with great magnificence. From this Marriage was born William III. whose History we are now entring upon.Page [unnumbered]