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4.0 out of 5 stars A useful introduction to two overlooked monarchs, 11 Dec 2008
MarkK (Phoenix, AZ, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: William and Mary (Very Interesting People) (Paperback)
William and Mary were unique in British history. Coming to the throne through dramatic circumstances, they reigned together until Mary's death in 1694 left William to govern alone for another eight years. Facing war and political instability, their reign was critical in the evolution of the British political system and the establishment of British power in Europe. Yet in spite of this the two remain surprisingly obscure, enjoying greater stature in America thanks to the eponymous college established during their reign than they do in Britain today.

This obscurity can seem especially surprising after reading Tony Claydon and W. A. Speck's joint biographies of the monarchs. Taken from their respective contributions to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: In Association with the British Academy. From the Earliest Times to the Year 2000, the separate entries offer concise introductions to the monarchs lives. William's entry is the longer of the two, but Mary receives her due, and her not-inconsiderable role in governing during William's long absences due to war are rescued from the shadow of her husband's prominence. This book is a good starting point for anyone seeking to learn more about the lives of these unjustly overlooked figures.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Pair of Neglected Monarchs, 9 Nov 2011
Deborah (North Texas) - See all my reviews
Having recently read Wouter Troost's William III the Stadholder-King: A Political Biography, I was interested in reading a more recent biography by a British historian. I'd read the biographies by Baxter and Robb back in the 1970s as well as Hamilton's biography of Mary II and the Van der Zees' joint biography of William and Mary. I was having difficulty finding a copy of Tony Claydon's 2002 biography of William III so I decided to read this little joint biography.

The biographies are well-written. I like Claydon's section best, but that's purely a matter of personal preference. I thought both biographers did an excellent job in the sections where they examine William's and Mary's legacies.

The section Private Man, Public Monarch I found particularly interesting, especially "William and Religion" and "Marriage and Sexuality". I suppose I find the latter interesting because I agree there is no clear evidence that William was or was not bisexual. I do take issue with Claydon's statement that "William detested all frivolity". He never missed The Hague's' kermis if he could help it, and kermis is all about frivolity. Still, I definitely agree with Claydon's overall view of William's character.

If anyone is looking for a brief look at William III and Mary II and their impact on British and European history, I would definitely recommend this joint biography.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful outline, 4 Sep 2011
This review is from: William and Mary (Very Interesting People) (Paperback)
The small size of the book initially caused a negative reaction but this was easily dispelled on reading. It gives two very useful outline guides of the style of the two monarchs which, whilst probably insufficient for someone into serious studies of history, was extremely useful for me as someone seeking an overview of the times, personalities and major events and policies. My interest arises from a wish to set the scene for my family tree research and this book was ideal. It was also easy to read and to follow.
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William and Mary (Very Interesting People)
William and Mary (Very Interesting People) by W. A. Speck (Paperback - 9 Aug 2007)
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