William III (1650-1702), Prince of Orange, King of England.

William began his life as an ordinary Dutch prince. History came to him in the form of a call from the English Parliament: the MPs of the time were highly frustrated at the attitude of King James II (William's father-in-law), a Catholic who tried to establish Catholic faith in the country. They begged William to help them unseat James, which he happily accepted, being an active supporter of Protestantism. Besides, he had already defeated James in 1673, after the English king had tried to invade the Netherlands with the help of Louis XIV. William's forces landed in November of 1688 and kicked James' royal bottom in no time. James, suddenly realizing that people did not like him very much, accepted his exile in France.

James made one attempt to regain the crown, with the help of France and Ireland - but their troops were thoroughly spanked at the Battle of the Boyne, ensuring total English control over Ireland in the process.

Now the Parliament decided to crown William (they had little choice, anyway), but they had learnt their lesson: in order to prevent any future trouble with the King (read: in order to lock up their supremacy over him), they passed a series of laws limiting his power and strengthening theirs, including the famous Bill of Rights. These laws definitely suppressed royal prerogatives and established Parliament (with support of the oligarchy) as the real centre of power.

William was a wise man and a good king, despite leading endless wars against France and Spain (the two major Catholic powers of the time). He died in 1702 from complications after being thrown from his horse. In fifty-two years of life, he had shaped Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and had prevented a French takeover of Europe. Not bad for an ordinary Dutch prince.