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.