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William II, 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|
Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia (m. 1816)
|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 and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
The House of Orange-Nassau, a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the politics and government of the Netherlands and Europe especially since William the Silent organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) led to an independent Dutch state.
William V was a Prince of Orange and the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. He went into exile to London in 1795. He was furthermore ruler of the Principality of Orange-Nassau until his death in 1806. In that capacity he was succeeded by his son William.
John William Friso became the (titular) Prince of Orange in 1702. He was the Stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen in the Dutch Republic until his death by accidentally drowning in the Hollands Diep in 1711. Friso and his wife, Marie Louise, are the most recent common ancestors of all European monarchs occupying the throne today.
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.
Anna Pavlovna of Russia was a queen consort of the Netherlands.
The Napoleonic era is a period in the history of France and Europe. It is generally classified as including the fourth and final stage of the French Revolution, the first being the National Assembly, the second being the Legislative Assembly, and the third being the Directory. The Napoleonic era begins roughly with Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état, overthrowing the Directory, establishing the French Consulate, and ends during the Hundred Days and his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. The Congress of Vienna soon set out to restore Europe to pre-French Revolution days. Napoleon brought political stability to a land torn by revolution and war. He made peace with the Roman Catholic Church and reversed the most radical religious policies of the Convention. In 1804 Napoleon promulgated the Civil Code, a revised body of civil law, which also helped stabilize French society. The Civil Code affirmed the political and legal equality of all adult men and established a merit-based society in which individuals advanced in education and employment because of talent rather than birth or social standing. The Civil Code confirmed many of the moderate revolutionary policies of the National Assembly but retracted measures passed by the more radical Convention. The code restored patriarchal authority in the family, for example, by making women and children subservient to male heads of households.
Prince of Orange is a title originally associated with the sovereign Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. Under the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, Frederick William I of Prussia ceded the Principality of Orange to King Louis XIV of France. After William III of England died without children, a dispute arose between Johan Willem Friso and Frederick I of Prussia, which was settled in the Treaty of Partition (1732); consequently, Friso's son, William IV had to share use of the title "Prince of Orange" with Frederick William I of Prussia. With the emergence of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the title is traditionally borne by the heir apparent of the Dutch monarch. Originally only worn by men, since 1983 the title descends via absolute primogeniture, which means that the holder can be either Prince or Princess of Orange.
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.
The coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was originally adopted in 1815 and later modified in 1907. The arms are a composite of the arms of the former Dutch Republic and the arms of the House of Nassau, it features a checkered shield with a lion grasping a sword in one hand and a bundle of arrows in the other and is the heraldic symbol of the monarch and the country. The monarch uses a version of the arms with a mantle while the government of the Netherlands uses a smaller version without the mantle (cloak) or the pavilion, sometimes only the shield and crown are used. The components of the coats of arms were regulated by Queen Wilhelmina in a royal decree of 10 July 1907, affirmed by Queen Juliana in a royal decree of 23 April 1980.
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.
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-Belgian 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.
William Siborne, Sibourne or Siborn was a British officer and military historian whose most notable work was a history of the Waterloo Campaign.
Prince Ernest Casimir of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau was the fourth son of the Prince of Orange, later King William II of the Netherlands and his wife Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia.
Marquis of Veere and Flushing is one of the titles of the kings and queens of the Netherlands. It was originally a Dutch title of nobility referring to the cities of Veere and Vlissingen, in the southwestern Netherlands. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V created the title in 1555 for his distant relative, Maximilian of Burgundy, who had by then ruled as Lord of Veere. After being held by the kings of Spain and England and claimed by the kings in Prussia, it definitively passed to the House of Orange-Nassau.
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.
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 |