William III (1694-1702), Five-Guineas, 1699, first laureate head facing right, legend within toothed border reads GVLIELMVS. III. DEI. GRA. Rev, legend reads .MAG. BR. FRA. ET.HIB. REX with the date either side of top crown. Crowned cruciform shields, Lion of Nassau at centre, sceptres in angles, six strings to Irish harp, edge inscribed in raised lett ers +. DECVS. ET. TVTAMEN. ANNO. REGNI. UNDECIMO (MCE. 169; S.3454).
Some light surface markings, approaching extremely fine for issue with an underlying brilliance.
This 5 Guineas was the largest of the gold coins of the reign of William III. A handsome coin with a boldly lettered edge, which few could afford to keep and which was produced in relatively small numbers. Few have survived in the condition of this specimen.
William III was a Dutchman, descended from the ancient house of Nassau in Germany, and the great grandson of William the Silent, Prince of Orange, who became Stadtholder (or chief executive) of the Netherlands in 1572. William would go on to marry the daughter of James II, brother of Charles II, King of England, in 1677. In fact, his bride Mary was his cousin. After James II fled and vacated the throne, William and Mary became joint monarchs. This suited William, who did not want to be seen solely as a king regent. The English did not want a vacant throne and Mary was uncomfortable about reigning alone, especially if it looked as if she had usurped her father’s throne.
As a consequence, in February 1689, William was offered joint sovereignty with Mary. A win-win situation! Mary died of smallpox in December 1694. William became withdrawn if not reclusive. The English public had tolerated William because of their deep respect for Mary, and after her death his popularity diminished further. He began to spend more time involved in foreign wars and negotiations.William died as a result of a riding accident. In February 1702 his horse stumbled on a mole hill and threw William, fracturing his collar bone. A fever set in, followed by pleurisy and pneumonia, from which he died.