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Was William of Orange gay?

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annis
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Was William of Orange gay?

Post by annis » Thu March 22nd, 2012, 2:13 am

I'm just reading Jane Lane's The Phoenix and the Laurel, about John Grahame of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, leader of the first Jacobite uprising. Lane hints that William may have been attracted by young men. I hadn't come across that theory before- do any of you Royalists know whether there was anything in it, or was it just Jacobite propaganda?

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Post by SonjaMarie » Thu March 22nd, 2012, 2:30 am

[quote=""annis""]I'm just reading Jane Lane's The Phoenix and the Laurel, about John Grahame of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, leader of the first Jacobite uprising. Lane hints that William may have been attracted by young men. I hadn't come across that theory before- do any of you Royalists know whether there was anything in it, or was it just Jacobite propaganda?[/quote]

Yes, I've read books that have talked about his attachment to men, but whether he was having sexual relations with them, no idea.

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Post by DanielAWillis » Thu March 22nd, 2012, 12:27 pm

William reportedly had an affair with Count van Bentinck who was the ancestor of the Dukes and Earls of Portland. However, in that time period, it was a common political ploy to insuate homosexuality in your rival. The gay rumors do seem to have originated from the Stewart circles so may well have been started by those loyal to James II or his son. This, of course, does not mean the accusations were not true.

For what it is worth, the present-day Earl, a theatre actor, claims his ancestor was too dull to be gay.
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Post by annis » Sun March 25th, 2012, 12:46 am

Posted by DanielAWillis
For what it is worth, the present-day Earl, a theatre actor, claims his ancestor was too dull to be gay.
Love it :)

The jury definitely seems to be out on this subject. It looks like one of those questions that can't be definitively answered on way or another. The rumours could well have been based on jealousy from those who missed out on preferment at court or encouraged by Jacobite sympathisers, but I guess there's still a possibility that there was reason for them.

According to Wikipedia's well-cited article about William:

During the 1690s rumours grew of William's alleged homosexual inclinations and led to the publication of many satirical pamphlets by his Jacobite detractors. He did have several close, male associates, including two Dutch courtiers to whom he granted English titles: Hans Willem Bentinck became Earl of Portland, and Arnold Joost van Keppel was created Earl of Albemarle. These relationships with male friends, and his apparent lack of more than one female mistress, led William's enemies to suggest that he might prefer homosexual relationships. William's modern biographers, however, still disagree on the veracity of these allegations, with many contending that they were just figments of his enemies' imaginations, and others suggesting there may have been some truth to the rumours.

Bentinck's closeness to William did arouse jealousies in the Royal Court at the time, but most modern historians doubt that there was a homosexual element in their relationship. But William's young protege, Keppel, aroused more gossip and suspicion, being 20 years William's junior and strikingly handsome, and having risen from being a royal page to an earldom with some ease. Portland wrote to William in 1697 that "the kindness which your Majesty has for a young man, and the way in which you seem to authorise his liberties ... make the world say things I am ashamed to hear". This, he said, was "tarnishing a reputation which has never before been subject to such accusations". William tersely dismissed these suggestions, however, saying, "It seems to me very extraordinary that it should be impossible to have esteem and regard for a young man without it being criminal."

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Post by SGM » Sun March 25th, 2012, 5:50 am

This has come up before and you will find it in a previous thread.

For what it's worth, David Starkey (who is gay himself) says quite definitely that William was gay and if you read the appropriate volume of Churchill, you will ask yourself whether that is what he is actually saying but that the times were not right for it to be said so openly. But given how crucial his ancestor's actions were to the success of the so-called Glorious Revolution and how badly he was treated by William, there might be an element of sour grapes. The idea however came from William's own court originally not the Jacobites.

However, William also reputed to a mistress (I can't remember who she was) but was supposed to have given her up at the death-bed request of his wife. Although Starkey implies that he was incapble of having relations with women.

I know the possibility was revealed to some Ulster Unionist politicians some time ago by one of our gay activists and it didn't go down at all well.

So you must make your own mind up whether the evidence supports William's homosexuality or not. You might find the Dutch sources will reveal more.
Last edited by SGM on Sun March 25th, 2012, 6:11 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by annis » Sun March 25th, 2012, 6:12 am

Aha, found it- hadn't read that bit about David Starkey originally as I don't really get to watch a lot of TV or movies, so don't always follow that Movies etc thread.

In Phoenix and the Laurel Jane Lane covers her bases by having William aware of his attraction to handsome young men, but actively fighting to resist it.

Checked out William's mistress (amused that he was considered suspect because he only had one- how many was considered an adequate number, I wonder?) Turns out she was Elizabeth Villiers, a first cousin of Barbara Villiers, mistress of Charles II. Those Villiers did get about at court. Elizabeth's mother was one of the Howards, another family with an active history of intrigue in royal circles.
Last edited by annis on Sun March 25th, 2012, 7:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Susan » Sun March 25th, 2012, 12:38 pm

Not that this is proof one way or another...William's wife Mary II was pregnant at least once. She became pregnant shortly after her marriage and had a miscarriage. There is speculation that this miscarriage prevented her from having any more children. Mary may have suffered miscarriages several other times early in her marriage when she was "ill."

The British Stuarts seem to have had a collective problem with having healthy, legitimate children who survived and this was especially true for Mary II and her sister Anne. Mary, it seems, could not get pregnant and carry a baby to term and her sister Queen Anne was pregnant at least 17 times resulting in only three children who survived longer than a day. All of the three surviving children died of smallpox.

Smallpox hit the Stuarts particularly hard, especially the family of William III whose father, mother, and wife all died of smallpox.
Henry, Duke of Gloucester, son of Charles I
Mary, Princess Royal, daughter of Charles I, mother of William III
William II, Prince of Orange, husband of Mary, Princess Royal and father of William III of England
Mary II, daughter of James II, wife of William III
Mary, daughter of Queen Anne, at age 2
Anne Sophia, daughter of Queen Anne, at age 1
William, Duke of Gloucester, son of Queen Anne, at age 11

Recommended book about the health problems of the Stuarts:
The Sickly Stuarts: The Medical Downfall of a Dynasty by Frederick Holmes
Last edited by Susan on Sun March 25th, 2012, 12:50 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Post by SGM » Sun March 25th, 2012, 4:20 pm

[quote=""annis""]Aha, found it- hadn't read that bit about David Starkey originally as I don't really get to watch a lot of TV or movies, so don't always follow that thread.[/quote]

Good grief, I don't watch TV. I don't have time and I can't stand those potted TV programmes. I particularly can't stand David Starkey. Five minutes of that one was enough to send the shoes flying in the direction of the TV. I picked up most of that information from a number of books on William.
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Post by DianeL » Sun March 25th, 2012, 11:58 pm

[quote=""SGM""]Good grief, I don't watch TV. I don't have time and I can't stand those potted TV programmes. I particularly can't stand David Starkey. Five minutes of that one was enough to send the shoes flying in the direction of the TV. I picked up most of that information from a number of books on William.[/quote]

Just me, but I did not get the impression Annis was trying to offend you. Starkey does show up on television quite a bit.
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Post by annis » Mon March 26th, 2012, 6:39 am

Posted by DianeL
Just me, but I did not get the impression Annis was trying to offend you. Starkey does show up on television quite a bit.
No, I certainly wasn't :) It was just that I found the earlier discussion I'd missed about William of Orange in the Movies,TV etc thread I don't always remember to check.

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