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The Permanent National Debt (1693); the Bank of England (1694): William had now gained, at least temporarily, the object that he had in view when he accepted the English crown. He had succeeded in drawing the English into a close defensive alliance against Louis XIV,(3) who, as we have seen, was bent on destroying both the political and the religious liberty of the Dutch as a Protestant people.
The constant wars which followed William’s accession had compelled the King to borrow large sums from the London merchants. Out of these loans sprang the permanent National Debt. It was destined to grow from less than a million of pounds to so many hundred millions, that all thought of ever paying it is now given up. The second result was the organization of a banking company for the management of this colossal debt; together the two were destined to become more widely known than any of William’s victories.
The building erected by that company stands on Threadneedle Street, in the very heart of London. In one of its courts is a statue of the King set up , bearing this inscription: “To the memory of the best of princes, William of Orange, founder of the Bank of England,” – by far the largest and most important banking institution in the world.
1. Ryswick: a village of Holland, near The Hague.
2. The second (Protestant) daughter of James II. See 542.
3. See Guizot, History of Civilization, Chapter [13.]
Excerpt from The Leading Facts of English History by David Henry Montgomery – 1904
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