A William and Mary Timeline: For Want Of An Heir

Chapter 2: William
Chapter 2: William

June, 1694


William grimaced as his shoulder flashed with pain. A consequence of the attempt to take Brest last year. The fleet had gotten within sight of the fortress, and the enemy had come out with their full attack arsenal. A bullet had scraped his shoulder, and another had almost lodged itself within his shoulder. Thanks to Portland’s quick thinking he’d been spared. But the pain remained.

Now if he moved too suddenly, the shoulder flared. It was something, but at least he was not dead. Unlike Admiral Russell, who had gone down with his ship when it had been sunk during the engagement. William had not yet named a replacement as First Naval Lord, he had considered bringing back Lord Torrington, but the man had been found dead in Oatlands, in a pile of his own sick, which had put paid to that. So, instead the Navy was in Commission, and various Vice and Rear Admirals were handling the duties that would normally be done by the First Naval Lord.

But right now, that was not the concern. The concern was the land war. The French held far too much of the Southern Spanish Netherlands, and whilst they’d managed to hold them away from Brussels, William knew they would try again. And he needed a way to stop them when they came.

That was why he had called a meeting of the senior Allied leadership in Brussels, that included himself, the Elector of Bavaria and the Earl of Marlborough. Marlborough was someone that William had gradually come to trust thanks to his efforts last year-he’d won a superb battle against the French last year-and since.

Bavaria was a snake, that much William had been able to work out. He wanted something more than what he had, and he’d likely do whatever he could to get it. That was why William kept him at an arm’s length.

Still, the man had knowledge of the Spanish Netherlands, and it made sense to use that knowledge.

“The French are chasing our ankles, snapping at them and wanting us to make a mistake. We cannot afford that, especially with how the war is progressing elsewhere.” William said. The French had defeated an attempt by the Emperor to regain Lorraine recently, and were still in control of vast swathes of the Palatinate.

“We must hold the line.” William said. “Ensure that it is as solid as can be so that the French must break themselves trying to break it.”

“I disagree, Your Majesty.” The Elector said, his French thick with his accent. “We must take the attack to them. If we wait for them to come to us, we will see the rest of the Spanish Netherlands fall before then.”

“We do not have the army and the resources that they do.” William pointed out. The English army itself was the bulk of the allied forces within the Spanish Netherlands, and that put it at around 50,000 men, whilst the French army was around 70,000. “If we do that we will overstretch ourselves and we will be broken.”

“Not if we act smart about it.” The Elector said. “We must find one particular target, one which the French will want to preserve and we must strike there.”

“Where?” William asked, though he knew where the Elector would suggest, there was only place that was worthwhile after all.

“Mons.” Bavaria said, as William knew he would.

William laughed. “We will break ourselves trying to take Mons. The French will have made the fortress nigh untakeable, and our men lack the weaponry to break the thing down.” That was a consequence of the battle for Brussels last year, in which cannons and other such tools had been used in great numbers and many had been destroyed.

“We must try something, Sire.” Bavaria said. “We sit here like lame ducks, we risk being flanked.”

William exhaled, what Bavaria was suggesting went against his instinct. His instincts were defensive, years of fighting the French had taught him that the French never knew how to handle defensive tactics like what had been used during the Franco-Dutch War. He needed to hold on for just a little while longer.

He was about to say that when Marlborough spoke. “Perhaps there is a compromise that can be reached between both of your preferences, Sire?”

William looked at Marlborough then, wondering what the man was going to suggest, and whether he would regret listening to him.

“We could send a small force toward one of the lesser locations, perhaps Oudeenarde? To gauge the French reaction, if they take the bait then we know that they are not as clever as we think. If they do not, then we know that we have work to do.” Marlborough said.

He expected Bavaria to protest, but instead the man said. “I think Lord Marlborough is correct. We must do something, we cannot allow them to circle us within Brussels.”

William wanted to protest, his shoulder was aching something fierce, but he could not see a flaw in what Marlborough had suggested. After all Oudeenarde was the smallest French garrison, and the easiest to take. He had thought as much the moment he’d learned it had fallen. He exhaled. “Fine, choose someone to lead the expedition and then prepare them accordingly.” He would need to send an emissary to Savoy somehow, to strengthen the Duke’s resolve, and he’d need to prepare for another attempt on Brussels.

“Of course, Sire.” Marlborough replied, William looked briefly at Bavaria and saw him smiling, that made him feel worse, if such a thing were possible.
 
Chapter 3: Mary

Chapter 3: Mary

June, 1694


“Your Majesty?” One of the servants said, Mary looked up from the report the Countess of Erroll had written for her about how James was progressing.

“Yes?”

“The Marquess of Carmarthen is here, Your Majesty.” the servant said.

“Show him in.” Mary commanded. The servant bowed and departed, a few moments later Carmarthen entered. He bowed before her and then straightened, taking the seat she offered him.

Carmarthen was slightly taller than her, and she could see traces of grey underneath the wig he wore. His face was lined and the years clearly were taking their toll on him.

“Lord Carmarthen.” She said, pushing those thoughts out of her mind. “You said you had concerns you wished to discuss, so, speak.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Carmarthen said, his voice sounding hoarse, she offered him a cup of wine, which he refused. He took a breath then continued. “I fear that the ministry cannot continue for much longer.”

Mary frowned. “Why?”

“The divisions are growing too strong. The Whigs have found their champion in the Ministry in Lord Somers, whilst the Tories have found their champion in Lord Nottingham. Both men are doing their best to put the interests of their respective parties above that of the Kingdom. Indeed, in the most recent vote on supply, I had to do a lot of ear twisting to get both to drop their proposed amendments to the Supply Vote.” Carmarthen said, the man frowned as he spoke, clearly disgusted with what he had had to do.

“Is that not the nature of politics?” Mary asked. “It was you who told me many years ago that politics was a dirty business and that a good leader knows how to keep faction at bay.”

Carmarthen smiled sadly. “I did, and I do still believe that. Perhaps I was wrong in saying that the ministry will not last long. Perhaps what I should have said is that I do not think I have the strength to continue to lead it.”

Mary exhaled, that was not something she had expected. “Who would you suggest be your replacement then? Nottingham? The Tories do have a slight majority in the Commons after all.”
“No, Nottingham is not the man for this duty. He has not the skills to lead such a diverse ministry.” Carmarthen said.

“Well surely not Somers, the man loathes monarchy.” Mary said, she still remembered reading that ghastly pamphlet that Somers had written during the Exclusion Crisis. If she had had her way, the man would be in the Tower, not in office.

“Certainly not, Somers is a smart legal mind, but you need someone more adept and flexible.” Carmarthen said.

“Then who?” Mary asked. None of the current crop of ministers met that description.

“The Earl of Shrewsbury, Ma’am.” Carmarthen said.

“Shrewsbury?” Mary asked surprised. She liked Shrewsbury, but was he ministerial material? He had signed the invitation to William, but since then seemed content to lurk in the shadows.

“I believe he has both the charisma and the respect of both Houses to command loyalty and get things done. Furthermore, he will get Nottingham and Somers to work together.” Carmarthen said.

Mary took a breath, she would need to consult with William, he would want to decide on this, given its importance. “Are you willing to wait until September before ending your tenure?” She asked looking at Carmarthen.

Carmarthen nodded. “Of course, Your Majesty. I had thought it good practice to inform you though.”

Mary nodded. “I thank you for that.” She just hoped she would not regret agreeing to this.
 
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Chapter 4: Gossip
Chapter 4: Gossip

July, 1694


“I learned that the Earl of Oxford wants his daughter to marry the Duke of St Albans.” Gertrude, Marchioness of Halifax whispered.

Sarah stared at the woman. “Really?” She could not imagine such a marriage, Oxford was a proud man, from an ancient family. St Albans was an illegitimate son of King Charles II, and a fool.

“Yes, it seems that he wishes to secure his daughter’s inheritance against any of the wider de Vere family, and thinks that St Albans with his ties to the Court is the right person to see to that.” Getrude said.

That caused Sarah to frown. “What ties does St Albans have?” She knew the man was or had been Ranger of Windsor Park, but he hadn’t held that role for some time.

“He’s going to be named as Lord Chamberlain to the Queen.” Getrude said, looking passed Sarah to the Queen who was sat deep in discussion with the Countess of Erroll.

“Why?” Sarah whispered. She could not think of someone so ill-suited to being Lord Chamberlain. Other than the 2nd Earl of Clarendon who had been engaged in a long running lawsuit against the former Queen Catherine, until that woman had left for Portugal.

“I know not.” Gertrude replied, and from the expression on her face, it was clear that she hated not knowing. “But it is something we will need to get used to. Should the marriage occur, then Diana de Vere will become one of the Queen’s ladies.”

Sarah could have groaned at that. She had met the De Vere girl once or twice at court functions and she was not impressed by her. The woman was the worst impression of a woman that could be imagined. Full of air and nothing else.

“On the other hand, at least we shall have someone else to join us as well, other than the de Vere woman.” Gertrude added smiling.

“Who?” Sarah asked, she really would need to ask Gertrude how she came to learn about all of this. Given she was not on good terms with the Queen’s Mistress of the Robes.

“The Marchioness of Carmarthen.” Gertrude said.

Sarah arched an eyebrow, the woman had been a Lady in Waiting to Queen Catherine and then had retired to her husband’s estates when her husband had been imprisoned in the Tower. For her now to return to court, something must be about to happen. She did not think Carmarthen was the type to let his wife return if she didn’t feel comfortable.

“I have heard a rumour that the King and Queen intend to create Carmarthen a Duke.” Gertrude added in a conspirational whisper.

“A Duke?” Sarah replied. She could see it, Carmarthen had been a loyal servant of the Crown for almost thirty years, and he had helped bring about the Revolution. But, why would that necessitate his wife returning to court, unless…. “He’s going to be retiring.” Sarah said. The moment she said the words she instantly felt confident that they were true.

Gertrude looked at her and asked. “Why do you say so?”

“That is the only reason I can think of for a woman like the Marchioness to return to court. Her husband is too smart a man to allow his family’s influence to wane, and given his age, it is only natural that it would wane. But if he retires and his wife is serving the Queen, well that’s a way for him to keep feeding his influence and influencing the Quen. We all know the Queen listens to older women, you being a prime example.” Sarah said.

Gertrude hid a laugh behind her hand and a moment passed before she had calmed herself. When she spoke there was a hint of amusement in her voice. “Well then, we had best ensure that the woman sings from our hymn sheet.”
 
Chapter 5: Foreign Affairs
Chapter 5: Foreign Affairs

July, 1694



“Tell us what you have learned!” Louis commanded fighting hard to keep his voice neutral. His head was aching and he desperately wanted to sleep, but he was not sure if sleep would come.

The look on le Tellier’s face told him that he might need to forget about sleep for a while.

His Secretary for War took a deep breath then answered. “The effort to recapture the Convoy failed, Sire.”

Louis blinked. It had failed? How could it have failed, they had planned everything down to the last detail. “How?” He asked, his headache growing worse.

“The English sent ships to assist the Dutch at the last moment.” Le Tellier replied. “We were outnumbered and Admiral Châteaurenault and his ship were sunk.”

Louis felt something sink in his gut. Châteaurenault was gone, the convoy was lost. The food they needed to keep the war effort going was gone.

There was silence at this pronouncement. This defeat meant that everything they had fought for, everything that had gone into the last six years was for nothing.

Louis exhaled. “Who holds command of the ships that went with Châteaurenault now?”

“Captain Marshal, Sire.” Le Tellier. “He is sailing back for Nantes as we speak, Sire.”

Louis nodded, a part of him wanted to order that Marshal stay out on the waves and try and fight the English and Dutch again, but there was no point. And bringing the squadrons that were in the south up would be pointless, they needed those to keep the corsairs and the Spanish preoccupied.

He looked at his finance minister, Pontchartrain, and said. “We cannot keep fighting now can we?”

Pontchartrain shook his head. “No, Sire. We cannot afford to keep the army in the field and we cannot feed the people.”

Louis exhaled. Luxembourg had taken Steenkirk from the English led alliance a few weeks ago, and his men had seen off an attempt to take Oudenaarde that had been commanded by the Duke of Berwick. But that mattered nothing now.

Louis wanted to scream. His father, this was all his father’s fault, the man had insisted on starting a war which had promptly seen all of Europe ranged against them. They shouldn’t have started a war now, not when Spain was looking as though it might falter at any moment in its succession.

As if sensing his need for good news, his foreign minister, de Croissy spoke. “There has been word from Savoy, Sire, the Duke is ready to make peace.”

Louis nodded, that was a relief at least. Savoy must be experiencing as great a hardship as France. “What are his conditions?”

“He simply wishes for his borders to return to what they were before the war started.” de Croissy said.

Louis glanced at Pontchartrain to see whether that was advisable, the land they had taken as more taxes that could be paid, but it was also more land they would need to defend. Something they couldn’t afford. Pontchartrain nodded in agreement. “Very well, tell our man in Savoy that we agree.”

“Yes, Sire.” de Croissy said.

A thought came to Louis then, if he was struggling then it was better to bow out of the war completely now, rather than suffer riots and mutiny. “And come up with terms we can offer to the English and the Dutch.”

“Sire?” de Croissy asked sounding surprised.

Louis didn’t look at the man, instead he stared straight ahead, at the painting of his father that had been done shortly after this damned war had started. It was to that painting that Louis spoke. “We must end this war now, whilst we have everything we could hope for. Before we invoke God’s wrath. So, find terms and present them to me, and when I think they are acceptable, we shall go to the English and the Dutch.” The Spanish would do what those two did, and Vienna, well, he’d handle Vienna separately.
 
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If you wanted the battle of Taxel lost, could you not simply have Bart not at the command at all thought? Here he is even an admiral and loose?
 
Fair enough. Well Bart commanded otl so I saw no reason to change that
We've discussed that reason for TTL Texel being lost is that TTL Louis XV listens to (rather snobbish) advisors who say that promoting commoner to commander (Bart was ennobled only after winning Texel) is a shit idea and Châteaurenault should command instead, biting him in the ass hard.
 
We've discussed that reason for TTL Texel being lost is that TTL Louis XV listens to (rather snobbish) advisors who say that promoting commoner to commander (Bart was ennobled only after winning Texel) is a shit idea and Châteaurenault should command instead, biting him in the ass hard.
Amended accordingly
 
Chapter 6: Celebratory Tint
Chapter 6: Celebratory Tint

July, 1694


“And then there was a gweat fire and it burned down half the city!” James exclaimed excitedly. Mary smiled at her son, she barely remembered the Great Fire of London, she had only been four, but as time had gone on she had read about it and marvelled at the bravery her father and uncle had shown.

“And gwandpa and King Charles helped put the fire out!” James said, his eyes wide.

Mary’s smile grew wider, it was a good thing to her that her son referred to her father as his grandfather, it showed that he had immersed himself in the story that had been told.

James continued to talk excitedly about what he had read and Mary listened intently, quite happy with the progress her son was making. He was a quick learner and he seemed to understand big words, certainly much easier than Mary had at his age. But then again, Mary’s education had been significantly lacking due to her sex.

“Your Majesty?” A voice to her left called.

Mary turned, wondering who it was who had come to speak to her. The feast was still in full flow in the Banqueting House, they were celebrating the victory of the Battle of Texel, with the man of the hour, Admiral George Rooke sat to her right, just after James, he was engaged in an avid discussion with her son now.

The voice belonged to a woman, a woman who was relatively tall, a few inches shorter than Mary herself. Anne Hamilton, Duchess of Hamilton, and a woman who rarely ventured from her estates in Scotland, preferring for her sons to do the work at court for her. Her eldest son, the Earl of Selkirk was currently in the Spanish Netherlands with William.

“Lady Hamilton.” Mary said, inclining her head slightly.

“Congratulations on a brilliant victory, Your Majesty. Defeating the French in such a manner is sure to bring them to end this war.” The Duchess said.

Mary smiled, it had been her suggestion to William that had seen Rooke appointed commander of the joint Anglo-Dutch fleet that had defeated the French.

“Thank you, but the credit must go to Admiral Rooke. His tactics were simply brilliant.” Mary replied.

The Duchess nodded and then said. “The war will surely be over within months now. We cannot see the French fighting on without much needed food supplies.”
Mary didn’t bother asking how the woman knew about the French struggle with supplies, she had long learned that the Hamiltons had a way of learning things that they really shouldn’t know about. Instead she asked. “How may I be of service, my lady?”

The woman took a breath, and Mary wondered if she was about to say some nonsense about how it was her who was serving Mary, but instead, she said. “I have received word that there may be trouble stirring in the Highlands, Your Majesty.”

Mary kept her expression neutral, Secretary Dalrymple had not said anything about that, and he was usually quite good with such things. Cautiously, she asked. “What trouble and by who?”

“Nothing is certain, but I believe members of Clan MacDonald are looking to cause trouble due to what happened at Glencoe.” Hamilton said.

Mary bit back a sigh. Glencoe, a tragedy, something that should never have happened and yet it was two years ago, and an investigation had shown no wrongdoing. She was about to say as much to Hamilton when the woman continued.

“I believe there could be a way to avoid this though, Your Majesty.”

“How?” Mary asked.

“An inquiry that questions those who were involved and those affected. A detailed inquiry that covers everything.” Hamilton said.

“There was already one such inquiry.” Mary said.

“With the greatest of respect, Your Majesty, that was not a proper inquiry, that was something masquerading as one, led by a man with a vested interest in procuring a certain outcome.” Hamilton said, her voice was neutral, but fire danced in her eyes.

Cautiously, Mary asked. “Who then would you wish to lead this inquiry?” She fully expected the woman to say her son, but was pleasantly surprised when she said.

“There are three men I can think of who would suit this. The Earls of Glencairn, Buchan and Morton, Your Majesty. None of them are closely tied to any faction within Scotland and are able to view things objectively.” Hamilton replied.

Mary considered this and said. “We shall think on what you have said.” She’d need to speak with William about this, not over letter, who knew what might be intercepted over letter.

The woman curtseyed and walked back to her seat. Mary watched her do so and wondered what game the woman was playing.
 
I am I. Need of some assistance. Who would be a good abd high ranking noble to be sent as a French envoy to william iii?
 
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