King William’s War (1688-1697)-Background for Future Conflicts That Would Effect the Berkshires

First of Four Wars Impacting Western New England

King William’s War was the first of four wars in which the French colonials (in Canada and elsewhere) and the British colonials (in New England and elsewhere) had several elements that would repeat in later years with substantial impact on western Massachusetts:

-The colonies were incidental to a European conflict having to do with royal succession and balance of power (but by the 1750’s the colonies would be a much more important part of the conflict)

-Native Americans (by now largely dependent on trade for European goods) would be sought as allies

-Each conflict served to escalate resentments on both sides and provide tinder for future conflagration.

638px-King_williams_war.svg
King William’s War in New England, New York and Canada

English vs. French

There was plenty of tension anyway between the (largely Protestant and English) and (largely French and Catholic) colonists but the excuse for attack came from Europe. Britain’s King James II (leaning Catholic) was deposed by the Parliament (Britain now leaning largely Protestant) and fled to France. ¬†His daughter (Mary) and her husband (William) invaded and replaced James (The Glorious Revolution – 1688). ¬†William joined the League of Augsburg in its war against France.

In the colonies the parties were the English colonists (forced reluctantly to temporarily unite as of 1686 as The Dominion of New England and the Iroquois Confederacy vs. the colonists of New France (Canada and what would become upstate New York) and their Wabanaki allies.

Savage Conflict and a New Hero

None of the sparsely populated territories of North America changed hands but

-Somewhat savage French and Indian forays into modern day Maine and New Hampshire delayed further settlement and set the stage for further conflict in Nova Scotia and the mouth of the St. Lawrence

-English support for the Iroquois in raids from upstate New York against the very thinly settled frontier (except for Dutch/English settlement at fur trading post at Albany) was skimpy –influencing later alliances

-First seen in the Indian war with Metacomet “(King Phillip”), Captain Benjamin Church would emerge as an early colonial hero and father of the guerrilla military tactics borrowed from Native Americans that would reappear with Robert’s Rangers and the militiamen of the Revolutionary War.

Colonel Benjamin Church - the Father of the American Rangers
Colonel Benjamin Church – the Father of the American Rangers

For more information see Wikipedia 2014 “King William’s War”

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