1693: REIGN OF WILLIAM III AND MARY II
In the early days of 1693, at just about the same time American Puritans in New England were burning witches, half a world away, King William III of England (see Figure 1.1) was in the midst of battle with another sort of devil, the Catholic King Louis XIV of France, also known as the Sun King.
The hostility between the English king – who was actually Dutch in origin – and the infamous Sun King extended far beyond the few years since William had ascended to the English throne jointly with his wife, Mary. In fact, before winning the triple crown of England, Ireland, and Scotland, Prince William of Orange had spent the first thirty eight years of his life on the European continent under the constant threat of French aggression. The French and Dutch had been going at each other for centuries. In fact, there was a persistent rumor that King Louis XIV had actually once tried to kidnap King William, back when he was still the Prince of Orange, so there was no love lost between the glamorous Frenchman and the dour Dutchman.
But in early 1693, while basking in the glory of his victory at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland, King Billy, as he was nicknamed, was atop the English throne. And the forty-two-year-old monarch intended to settle the score with Louis once and for all by combining the best of the Dutch and English fleets. His vision and lifetime objective as the leader of the House of Orange was to secure a protestant Europe for generations.
Now, good intentions, strategic generals, and motivated troops are necessary but not sufficient conditions for waging a successful campaign against your enemies. Wars need money. In fact, when it comes to military campaigns that can change the tide of history, one requires very large sums of money. And this, alas, was something King William III didn't have in early 1693.