Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Decision to Invade

When did William decide to invade England?

In 1687 he sent two emissaries, Everard van Weede van Dijkvelt in the spring and Willem Zuylestein in August, who established an even firmer relationship between William and the major political figures in England. However there is no serious evidence that he was considering armed intervention at this time. But in April 1688 he told Admiral Edward Russell, then visiting his palace at Het Loo, that he was considering an English invasion. He had come to believe that James’s actions were threatening the monarchy. He believed that an English republic would be a disaster for Holland; another Cromwell, bent on colonial expansion and commercial enterprise, would have ruined his whole European strategy.

On 9 May Frederick William of Brandenburg, the Great Elector, William’s uncle by marriage died. In his old age he had become very unpredictable, and was a major bar to any concerted anti-French policy. His successor, Frederick III, was William’s heir, and extremely well disposed towards William.

In June, William sent Zuylestein on a second mission to England on the pretext of a congratulatory message on the birth of the prince. The real purpose was to procure the letter of invitation from ‘the immortal seven’. But the invitation was vaguely worded and there is no evidence that the signatories were inviting William to seize the throne.