|Queen Mary by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1690|
Queen Mary swept into power in 1689 alongside her husband, William III at the dawn of our glorious long 18th century. Their reign was short but memorable and today we join the queen at the end of her life, nearing death.
Mary was always fit and energetic so it must have come as a terrible shock to courtiers to discover that this most vibrant queen had contracted smallpox towards the end of 1694. The infection was virulent in England at the time and Mary immediately recognised her illness what it was and took steps to ensure that it didn't spread unduly. She went into seclusion at Kensington Palace and dismissed any members of court who had not previously suffered from the infection. Mindful of the danger, she refused to see even her closest family members for fear of their contracting smallpox too.
Mary did not linger and swiftly declined, dying in the small hours of 28th December, leaving her husband to rule on alone. The people of England mourned their queen throughout a bitter winter and she was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey on 5th March 1695. William declared that he would never recover from her death and he passed away less than a decade later, leaving no children to take the throne.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.