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Portrait by Nicolaas Pieneman
|Reign||7 October 1840 – 17 March 1849|
|Inauguration||28 November 1840|
|Born||6 December 1792|
Noordeinde Palace, The Hague, Dutch Republic
|Died||17 March 1849 56) (aged|
|Father||William I of the Netherlands|
|Mother||Wilhelmine of Prussia|
|Religion||Dutch Reformed Church|
William II (Willem Frederik George Lodewijk, anglicized as William Frederick George Louis; 6 December 1792 – 17 March 1849) was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg.
William II was the son of William I and Wilhelmine of Prussia. When his father, who up to that time ruled as sovereign prince, proclaimed himself king in 1815, he became Prince of Orange as heir apparent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With the abdication of his father on 7 October 1840, William II became king. During his reign, the Netherlands became a parliamentary democracy with the new constitution of 1848.
William II was married to Anna Pavlovna of Russia. They had four sons and one daughter. William II died on 17 March 1849 and was succeeded by his son William III.
Willem Frederik George Lodewijk was born on 6 December 1792 in The Hague. He was the eldest son of King William I of the Netherlands and Wilhelmine of Prussia. His maternal grandparents were King Frederick William II of Prussia and his second wife Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.
When William was two, he and his family fled to England after allied British-Hanoverian troops left the Republic and entering French troops defeated the army of the United Provinces, claiming liberation by joining the anti-Orangist Patriots. William spent his youth in Berlin at the Prussian court, where he followed a military education and served in the Prussian Army. After this, he studied civil law at Christ Church, University of Oxford.William II had a string of relationships with both men and women which led him to be blackmailed. The homosexual relationships that William II had as crown prince and as king were reported by journalist Eillert Meeter . The king surrounded himself with male servants whom he could not dismiss because of his 'abominable motive' for hiring them in the first place.
He entered the British Army, and in 1811, as a 19 year old aide-de-camp in the headquarters of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was allowed to observe several of Wellington's campaigns of the Peninsular War. Though not yet 20, the young prince, according to the customs of the time, was made lieutenant colonel on 11 June 1811and colonel on 21 October that year. On 8 September 1812 he was made an aide-de-camp to the Prince Regent and on 14 December 1813 promoted to major-general. His courage and good nature made him very popular with the British, who nicknamed him "Slender Billy". He returned to the Netherlands in 1813 when his father became sovereign prince, and in May 1814 succeeded Sir Thomas Graham as the highest-ranking officer of the British forces stationed there.
On 8 July 1814, he was promoted to lieutenant-general in the British Army,and on 25 July to general. As such, he was senior officer of the Allied army in the Low Countries when Napoleon I of France escaped from Elba in 1815. He relinquished command on the arrival of the Duke of Wellington, and, though this was his first real battle, served as commander of the I Allied Corps, first at the Battle of Quatre Bras (16 June 1815) and then at the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), where he was wounded. He was aged 23. As a sign of gratitude for what the Dutch throne styled "his" victory at Waterloo, William was offered Soestdijk Palace by the Dutch people.
The British army lieutenant and military historian William Siborne blamed many casualties during the Waterloo Campaign on William's inexperience, incompetence, desperation to save face, and grossly-inflated opinion of his own military abilities.In response, Siborne was accused by Lieutenant-General Willem Jan Knoop of many inaccuracies and contradictions. An inspection of the archives of Siborne by General Francois de Bas in 1897 confirmed the selective use of sources and "numerous miscounts and untruths".
In 1814, William was briefly engaged to Princess Charlotte of Wales, only child of the Prince Regent (later George IV of the United Kingdom) and his estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick. The engagement was arranged by the Prince Regent, but it was broken off because Charlotte's mother was against the marriage and because Charlotte did not want to move to the Netherlands. On 21 February 1816 at the Chapel of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, William married Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, youngest sister to Czar Alexander I of Russia, who arranged the marriage to seal the good relations between Imperial Russia and the Netherlands. On 17 February 1817 in Brussels, his first son, Willem Alexander, the future King William III, was born.
Already in 1819, he was blackmailed over what Minister of Justice Van Maanen termed in a letter his "shameful and unnatural lusts": presumably bisexuality. Also his signing the constitutional reform of 1848, enabling a parliamentary democracy, may have been partly influenced by blackmail.He may also have had a relationship with a dandy by the name of Pereira.
William II enjoyed considerable popularity in what is now Belgium (then the Southern Netherlands), as well as in parts of the rest of the Netherlands for his affability and moderation, and in 1830, on the outbreak of the Belgian revolution, he did his utmost in Brussels as a peace broker, to bring about a settlement based on administrative autonomy for the southern provinces, under the House of Orange-Nassau. His father then rejected the terms of accommodation that the son had proposed without further consultation; afterwards, relations with his father were once again tense.
In April 1831, William II was sent by his father to be the military leader of the failed Ten Days' Campaign in order to recover what would become Belgium. They were driven back due to French intervention on the side of the rebels. European mediation established Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on the throne of a new monarchy. Peace was finally established in 1839 when Belgium was recognized by the Netherlands.
On 7 October 1840, on his father's abdication, he acceded to the throne as William II. Although he shared his father's conservative inclinations, he did not intervene in governmental affairs nearly as much as his father had. There was increased agitation for broad constitutional reform and a wider electoral franchise. Although William was certainly no democrat, he acted with sense and moderation.
The Revolutions of 1848 broke out all over Europe. In Paris the Bourbon-Orléans monarchy that had stolen "his" southern provinces fell. Warned that the revolution might spread to the Netherlands next, William decided to institute a more liberal regime, believing it was better to grant reforms instead of having them imposed on him on less favourable terms later. As he later put it, "I changed from conservative to liberal in one night". He chose a committee headed by the prominent liberal Johan Rudolf Thorbecke to create a new constitution.
The new document provided that the Eerste Kamer (Senate), previously appointed by the King, would be elected indirectly by the Provincial States. The Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives), previously elected by the Provincial States, would be elected directly via census suffrage in electoral districts, with the franchise limited to those who paid a certain amount in taxes. Ministers were now fully responsible to the Tweede Kamer. For all intents and purposes, the real power passed to the Tweede Kamer, and the king was now a servant of government rather than its master. That constitution of 1848, amended numerous times (most notably by the replacement of census suffrage by universal manhood suffrage and districts with nationwide party-list proportional representation, both in 1917) is still in effect today.
He swore in his first and only cabinet under the terms of the new constitution a few months before his sudden death in Tilburg, North Brabant (1849).
He is a recurring character in the historical novels of Georgette Heyer, most notably in An Infamous Army.
William appears as a character in the historical fiction novel Sharpe's Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell, and its television adaptation, in which he is portrayed by Paul Bettany.
William II and queen Anna Pavlovna had five children:
|Ancestors of William II of the Netherlands|
William I was a Prince of Orange, the King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
The United Kingdom of the Netherlands is the unofficial name given to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as it existed between 1815 and 1839. The United Netherlands was created in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars through the fusion of territories that had belonged to the former Dutch Republic, Austrian Netherlands, and Prince-Bishopric of Liège in order to form a buffer state between the major European powers. The polity was a constitutional monarchy, ruled by William I of the House of Orange-Nassau.
William III was King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg from 1849 until his death in 1890. He was also the Duke of Limburg from 1849 until the abolition of the duchy in 1866.
Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He ruled Prussia during the difficult times of the Napoleonic Wars. Steering a careful course between France and her enemies, after a major military defeat in 1806, he was humiliated by Napoleon, and Prussia was stripped of recent gains and forced to pay huge financial penalties. The king reluctantly joined the coalition against Napoleon in the Befreiungskriege. Following Napoleon's defeat, he took part in the Congress of Vienna, which assembled to settle the political questions arising from the new, post-Napoleonic order in Europe. His major interests were internal, the reform of Prussia's Protestant churches. He was determined to unify the Protestant churches, to homogenize their liturgy, their organization, and even their architecture. The long-term goal was to have fully centralized royal control of all the Protestant churches in the Prussian Union of Churches. The king was said to be extremely shy and indecisive. His wife Queen Louise (1776–1810) was his most important political advisor. She led a very powerful group that included Baron vom Stein, Prince von Hardenberg, von Scharnhorst, and Count Gneisenau. They set about reforming Prussia's administration, churches, finance and military.
Prince of Orange is a title originally associated with the sovereign Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France.
Noordeinde Palace is one of the three official palaces of the Dutch royal family. Located in The Hague in the province of South Holland, it has been used as the official workplace of King Willem-Alexander since 2013.
William I was King of Württemberg from 30 October 1816 until his death.
Prince Friedrich Wilhelm Karl of Prussia was the son of Frederick William II of Prussia and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.
The House of Nassau is a diversified aristocratic dynasty in Europe. It is named after the lordship associated with Nassau Castle, located in present-day Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The lords of Nassau were originally titled "Count of Nassau", then elevated to the princely class as "Princely Counts". Early on they divided into two main branches: the elder (Walramian) branch, that gave rise to the German king Adolf, and the younger (Ottonian) branch, that gave rise to the Princes of Orange and the monarchs of the Netherlands.
Karl Philipp, Fürst zu Schwarzenberg was an Austrian field marshal.
Leopold Count van Limburg Stirum was a politician who was part of the Dutch triumvirate that took power in 1813 in order to re-establish the monarchy in the Netherlands.
Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, was the second son of William I of the Netherlands and his wife, Wilhelmine of Prussia.
Prince Carl Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach was a distinguished soldier, who, in 1815, after the congress of Vienna, became colonel of a regiment in the service of the king of the Netherlands. He fought at the Battle of Quatre Bras and the Battle of Waterloo where he commanded the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Dutch Division and became a Chief Commander of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army
Willem Jan Knoop was a Dutch lieutenant-general, military historian, and politician. As a young captain of the Dutch General Staff he wrote a rebuttal of the British military historian William Siborne's account of the Battle of Quatre Bras and the Battle of Waterloo, published as History of the war in France and Flanders in 1815 in 1844, in which Siborne disparaged the conduct of the Dutch army at these battles. Siborne's book had caused a furore in the Netherlands as he saw fit to insult the honor of the Dutch army, and of king William II of the Netherlands, who as Prince of Orange had commanded that army at both battles, and was revered as a national hero by the Dutch. As Siborne's book is still in use as a source for Anglophone historiography of the battles, and is still the subject of controversy, Knoop's criticisms are still relevant, and play a role in this controversy.
Jonkheer Albert Dominicus Trip van Zoudtlandt was a Dutch lieutenant-general of cavalry who headed the Dutch heavy cavalry brigade at the Battle of Waterloo.
Willem Frederik count of Bylandt or Bijlandt was a Dutch lieutenant-general who as a major-general commanded a Belgian-Dutch infantry brigade at the Battle of Quatre Bras and the Battle of Waterloo.
Jean Victor baron de Constant Rebecque was a Swiss lieutenant-general in Dutch service of French ancestry. As chief-of-staff of the Netherlands Mobile Army he countermanded the order of the Duke of Wellington to evacuate Dutch troops from Quatre Bras on the eve of the Battle of Quatre Bras, thereby preventing Marshal Michel Ney from occupying that strategic crossroads.
Hendrik George, Count de Perponcher Sedlnitsky was a Dutch general and diplomat. He commanded the 2nd Netherlands Division at the Battle of Quatre Bras and the Battle of Waterloo.
The Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands was a short-lived sovereign principality and the precursor of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, in which it was reunited with the Southern Netherlands in 1815. The principality was proclaimed in 1813 when the victors of the Napoleonic Wars established a political reorganisation of Europe, which would eventually be defined by the Congress of Vienna.
Antonie Frederik Jan Floris Jacob Baron van Omphal was a Dutch lieutenant-general and extraordinary aide-de-camp to William III of the Netherlands. He was awarded a knighthood in the Military William Order among other honours.
William II of the NetherlandsBorn: 6 December 1792 Died: 17 March 1849
| King of the Netherlands |
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Duke of Limburg
| Prince of Orange |