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One of our most influential Monarchs suffered from Asthma

William, Prince of Orange, was quite a sickly child, and there were some genuine fears that he would not survive.

Indeed, during the first two or three years of his life there were concerns for this health, with some suggestion that he had developed what we would now regard as Asthma.

Nevertheless, his health did not appear to hold him back as, during the struggle between the Grand Alliance and France, the young Prince of Orange often led from the front. This endeared him to his soldiers but worried his generals greatly.

At the Battle of the Boyne, the newly enthroned King William III led Inniskilling, Danish, and Dutch horse into the river at Drybridge. By that stage in the battle, the river level had dropped (the Boyne being a tidal river) and there was a considerable area of muddy water/mud on the approach to the southern bank. This crossing took place under fire, with one of the new King’s pistols being struck by a musket ball. His horse became stuck in the mud and there is some suggestion that, during his attempts to free the animal, William may have aggravated his asthma, with some witnesses reporting him as being out of breath. He was subsequently carried to the bank by a member of the Inniskillings before regaining his composure and continuing the advance.

His actions secured the Glorious Revolution and left a profound and positive legacy for the development of liberal democracy. If you would like to know more about this period, why not visit our FREE exhibition LIBERTY, currently on display at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Belfast.


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