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The Nine Years’ War King Louis XIV of France raised rebellion in Ireland to put his own man on the English throne.

In two parts

Music: Jean-Baptiste Lully and Henry Purcell

© Kenneth Allen, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. Source

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Cannon on the city walls of Derry in Northern Ireland. It was here in April 1689 that James II began his campaign to regain the thrones of Scotland and England, besieging Derry for three months until the city was relieved by William’s Royal Navy. James was finally driven from Ireland a year later at the Battle of the Boyne. The very last attempt to land him on British soil was foiled at the Battle of Barfleur on May 19th, 1692.

The Nine Years’ War

Part 1 of 2

Throughout the 1680s, King Louis XIV of France nibbled away at countries along the French border from Holland to the Alps, while his ally Turkey harassed them from the other side. Only William, Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, offered any real resistance, but his navy was too small do anything about it until 1688, when an extraordinary stroke of luck came his way.

IN 1688, envoys from England came to William, governing prince of the Dutch Republic, inviting him and his wife Mary to become King and Queen of England in place of Mary’s disgraced father, James II, now an exile in Paris. At once, William saw a chance to add England’s navy to his own and turn the tables on French King Louis XIV, a growing menace to small states along France’s border as far as Italy and Spain.

But Louis’s navy was still much larger, and in March 1689 he gave James ships and men and sent him to Ireland, with orders to raise a rebellion and reclaim his crown. Another Jacobite army in Scotland under John Graham, Earl of Dundee, scored a victory over William at Killiecrankie on July 27th, 1689; but Dundee himself was killed, and the Scots surrendered a month later. A further victory for William at the River Boyne near Dublin on July 1st, 1690, dismissed James back to France.

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In 1688, Parliament drove King James II into exile, in favour of his daughter Mary and her husband William, ruler of the Dutch Republic. William’s long-standing foe King Louis XIV of France sent James to Ireland to raise rebellion, but William defeated him at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and extinguished a Jacobite revolt in Scotland too. (57 / 60 words)

Part Two

By Julien Berrand, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. Source

About this picture …

Namur in Wallonia, Belgium, on the River Meuse. At the time, it lay in the Spanish Netherlands, to the west of William’s Dutch Republic, and was captured by Louis XIV in 1692 in an unmistakable gesture of intent. But King William was present in person to recapture it in 1695, proving that Louis’s dominance in Europe was on the wane.

REBUFFED on land in Scotland and Ireland, Louis saw his ships inflict a humiliating defeat on a combined Anglo-Dutch fleet at Beachy Head on June 10th, 1690. England braced for invasion, while French forces harassed English colonies as far afield as New England,* the Caribbean, and even India, where French ships bombarded Madras. But no invasion came, and revenge for the Allies at Barfleur and La Hogue in the summer of 1692 reduced Louis’s battered navy to harassing English merchantmen.

But the financial burden of fighting so long and so far afield was growing, and in September 1697 peace was agreed at Ryswick in the Dutch Republic.* Territorial changes were small, but the balance of power shifted. Louis the ‘Sun King’ no longer dazzled the smaller states of Europe. William’s right to the English crown was admitted. The Royal Navy was the envy of Europe, and England’s merchant sailors, rid of French harassment, were hunting spices, tea and fabrics across the seven seas.* A new power was rising.

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At this time, though England controlled the eastern coast of North America from modern-day Georgia to Maine, much of the interior was a French colony named New France. It extended from the Gulf of Mexico up through Louisiana and Illinois to Quebec and Montreal, Hudson Bay, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. See a map at Wikimedia Commons.

Today, Rijswijk in the Netherlands. To refinance the Treasury, Parliament raised a variety of new taxes, and in 1694 the Bank of England was founded, with a brief to raise £1.2m by the sale of gilt-edged securities to private investors.

England acquired her taste for tea in the 1660s, when Queen Catherine, Charles II’s Portuguese wife, introduced the fashion to court. The East India Company began importing tea commercially from Indonesia in 1669, and the first tea-shop was opened at 216 The Strand in 1706, by Thomas Twining, from which the company still trades today.


Victory in Ireland did not end the war, which spread even to England’s colonies in North America and India. However, Louis’s navy was weakened by defeat at Barfleur and La Hogue in 1692, and the cost of the war was becoming prohibitive. When peace was agreed at Ryswick in 1697, the balance of European power had shifted in William’s favour. (58 / 60 words)

Suggested Music

1 2

Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)

Performed by the French orchestra ‘Les Siècles’ under François-Xavier Roth.

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‘Fairest Isle’, from King Arthur

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Performed by Gill Ross, with the English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardiner

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