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BILLY'S VATICAN BACKER; Pope's funding for king.

Byline: MARK DALY

OLD Vatican papers show that Protestant hero William of Orange was on the payroll of Pope Innocent XI.

Two Italian historians claim Innocent gave vast amounts of money to William in a bid to secure an ally within the Protestant camp.

It is understood the Pontiff wanted to see an end to the rule of James II of England.

He feared James was too close to one of the Vatican's greatest critics, Louis XIV of France, and disliked his aggressive Catholic policies.

William did see off James, ascending to the throne in 1689, and ended Roman Catholic rule in England.

The historians claim in a new book, Imprimatur, that the Vatican sent around pounds 3.5million in today's terms to William in the 1660s.

The papers also show "King Billy" offered to repay the money in 1689 by handing over to Rome his personal fiefdom of Orange in France.

The Vatican rejected the offer because it did not want its links with William to become common knowledge.

The Williamite forces' victory over James in the 1690 Battle of the Boyne is still celebrated by Protestants every year on July 12.

A Catholic Church spokesman said the revelations were bound to surprise Orangemen. But Lodge leaders said they wouldn't make any difference.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 24, 2001
Words:214
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