European Colonization of North America

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Describe the cause of King William's War.

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There was no one single cause of the war; rather, there were a number of factors that led to England and France fighting each other for almost a decade in North America. One of these was the recent deposition of James II as King of England. James, a staunch Roman Catholic, had been removed from the throne over his attempts to re-Catholicize Great Britain, replaced by King William of Orange after the Glorious Revolution.

King Louis XIV of France, James's ally, sought to present himself as the champion of Catholic Europe. He was already at war with the League of Augsburg, an alliance of Protestant powers, and so was spoiling for a fight against what he regarded as the Protestant usurper William. Shortly after taking over the English throne from James, King William joined the League, yet was reluctant to become embroiled in a European war against the French. For their part, the French were equally reluctant to jeopardize their strategic position on the continent, so North America became the theater of conflict during King William's War.

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During the colonial era in North America, there were a number of “colonial wars” in which the colonists from various countries fought against one another.  In North America, this generally meant that the British colonists in what is now the US fought French colonists from what is now Canada.  These wars were all connected to conflicts in Europe.  King William’s war is one such war.

King William’s War took place in the colonies from 1689 to 1697.  It also took place in Europe during those same years.  In Europe, this war is known as the War of the League of Augsburg.  This war was caused by an attempt on the part of King Louis XIV of France to expand the power of his country.

This war was caused when Louis tried to take power in parts of the Holy Roman Empire, which was to the east of France.  This empire was rather weak and Louis was able to annex parts of it.  When he did this, other nations of Europe became worried and formed the “League of Augsburg” to oppose Louis.  The league then went to war against Louis.  This fighting spilled over into North America where French and British colonists fought one another.  

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