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William in ceremonial robes, by Joseph Paelinck, ca. 1818–19
| King of the Netherlands |
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
|Reign||16 March 1815 – 7 October 1840|
|Inauguration||30 March 1814|
|Prince of Nassau-Orange-Fulda|
|Reign||25 February 1803 – 27 October 1806|
|Prince of Orange-Nassau|
|1st reign||9 April 1806 – 27 October 1806|
|2nd reign||20 November 1813 – 16 March 1815|
|Duke of Limburg|
|Reign||5 September 1839 – 7 October 1840|
|Born||24 August 1772|
Huis ten Bosch, The Hague, Dutch Republic
|Died||12 December 1843 71) (aged|
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia
|Spouse|| Wilhelmina of Prussia |
Henrietta d'Oultremont (morganatic)
|Issue|| William II of the Netherlands |
|Father||William V, Prince of Orange|
|Mother||Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia|
|Religion||Dutch Reformed Church|
William I (Willem Frederik, Prince of Orange-Nassau; 24 August 1772 – 12 December 1843) was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
He was the ruler of the Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda from 1803 until 1806 and of the Principality of Orange-Nassau in the year 1806 and from 1813 until 1815. In 1813 he proclaimed himself Sovereign Prince of the United Netherlands. He proclaimed himself King of the Netherlands and Duke of Luxembourg on 16 March 1815. In the same year on 9 June William I became also the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and after 1839 he was furthermore the Duke of Limburg. After his abdication in 1840 he styled himself King William Frederick, Count of Nassau.
King William I's parents were the last stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange of the Dutch Republic, and his wife Wilhelmina of Prussia. Until 1806, William was formally known as William VI, Prince of Orange-Nassau,and between 1806 and 1813 also as Prince of Orange. In Berlin on 1 October 1791, William married his first cousin (Frederica Louisa) Wilhelmina of Prussia, born in Potsdam. She was the daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia. After Wilhelmina died in 1837, William married Countess Henriette d'Oultremont de Wégimont (28 February 1792, in Maastricht – 26 October 1864, in Schloss Rahe), created Countess of Nassau, on 17 February 1841, also in Berlin.
As eldest son of the Prince of Orange (of whom there could only be one at a time) William was informally referred to as Erfprins(Hereditary Prince) by contemporaries (and later historians) in the period between his majority in 1790 and the death of his father in 1806 to distinguish him from William V.
Like his younger brother Prince Frederick of Orange-Nassau he was tutored by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler and the Dutch historian Herman Tollius. They were both tutored in the military arts by general Prince Frederick Stamford. After the Patriot revolt had been suppressed in 1787, he in 1788-89 attended the military academy in Brunswick which was considered an excellent military school, together with his brother. In 1790 he visited a number of foreign courts like the one in Nassau and the Prussian capital Berlin, where he first met his future wife. 100:
William subsequently studied briefly at the University of Leiden. In 1790 he was appointed a general of infantry in the States Army of which his father was Captain general, and he was made a member of the Council of State of the Netherlands. In November 1791 he took his new bride to The Hague. 101:
After the National Convention of the French First Republic had declared war on the stadtholder of the Dutch Republic in February 1793, William was appointed commander-in-chief of the veldleger (mobile army) of the States Army (his father remained the nominal head of the armed forces). 157 As such he commanded the troops that took part in the Flanders Campaign of 1793-95. He took part in the battles of Veurne, Menin, and Wervik (where his brother was wounded) in 1793, the siege of Landrecies (1794), which fortress surrendered to him, and the Battle of Fleurus (1794), to name the most important. In May 1794 he had replaced general Kaunitz as commander of the combined Austro-Dutch forces on the instigation of Emperor Francis II who apparently had a high opinion of him. :270 But the French armies proved too strong, and the allied leadership too inept, and the allies were defeated. The French first entered Dutch Brabant which they dominated after the Battle of Boxtel. When in the winter of 1794-95 the rivers in the Rhine delta froze over, the French breached the southern Hollandic Water Line and the situation became militarily untenable. In many places Dutch revolutionaries took over the local government. After the Batavian Revolution in Amsterdam on 18 January 1795 the stadtholder decided to flee to Britain, and his sons accompanied him. (On this last day in Holland his father relieved William honorably of his commands). The next day the Batavian Republic was proclaimed. :341–365, 374–404, 412:
Soon after his departure to Britain the Hereditary Prince went back to the Continent,[ clarification needed ] where his brother was assembling former members of the States Army in Osnabrück for a planned foray into the Batavian Republic in the Summer of 1795. However, the neutral Prussian government forbade this. :231–235
In 1799, William landed in the current North Holland as part of an Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland. The Hereditary Prince was instrumental in fomenting a mutiny on the Batavian naval squadron in the Vlieter, resulting in the surrender of the ships without a fight to the Royal Navy, which accepted the surrender in the name of the stadtholder. The local Dutch population, however, was not pleased with the arrival of the prince. One local Orangist was even executed. 241–265The hoped-for popular uprising failed to materialise. After several minor battles the Hereditary Prince was forced to leave the country again after the Convention of Alkmaar. The mutineers of the Batavian fleet, with their ships,and a number of deserters from the Batavian army accompanied the retreating British troops to Britain. There William formed the King's Dutch Brigade with these troops, a military unit in British service, that swore oaths of allegiance to the British King, but also to the States General, defunct since 1795, "whenever those would be reconstituted." This brigade trained on the Isle of Wight in 1800 and was eventually used by the British in Ireland. :
When peace was concluded between Great Britain and the French Republic under First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte the Orange exiles were at their nadir. The Dutch Brigade was dissolved on 12 July 1802. Many members of the brigade went home to the Batavian Republic, thanks to an amnesty. The surrendered ships of the Batavian navy were not returned, due to an agreement between the stadtholder and the British government of 11 March 1800. 329–330 Instead the stadtholder was allowed to sell them to the Royal Navy for an appreciable sum.:
The stadtholder, feeling betrayed by the British, left for Germany. The Hereditary Prince, having a more flexible mind, went to visit Napoleon at St. Cloud in 1802. He apparently charmed the First Consul, and was charmed by him. Napoleon raised hopes for William that he might have an important role in a reformed Batavian Republic. Meanwhile, William's brother-in-law Frederick William III of Prussia, neutral at the time, promoted a Franco-Prussian convention of 23 May 1802, in addition to the Treaty of Amiens, that gave the House of Orange a few abbatial domains in Germany, that were combined to the Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda by way of indemnification for its losses in the Batavian Republic. The stadtholder gave this principality immediately to his son. 452:
When Napoleon invaded Germany in 1806 and war broke out between the French Empire and Prussia, William supported his Prussian relatives, though he was nominally a French vassal. He received command of a Prussian division which took part in the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt. The Prussians lost that battle and William was forced to surrender his troops rather ignominiously at Erfurt the day after the battle. He was made a prisoner of war, but was paroled soon. Napoleon punished him for his betrayal, however, by taking away his principality. As a parolee, William was not allowed to take part in the hostilities anymore. After the Peace of Tilsit William received a pension from France in compensation. 454–469, 471, 501:
In the same year, 1806, his father, the Prince of Orange died, and William not only inherited the title, but also his father's claims on the inheritance embodied in the Nassau lands. This would become important a few years later, when developments in Germany coincided to make William the Fürst (Prince) of a diverse assembly of Nassau lands that had belonged to other branches of the House of Nassau.
But before this came about, in 1809 tensions between Austria and France became intense. William did not hesitate to join the Austrian army as a Feldmarschalleutnant (major-general) in May 1809 516 As a member of the staff of the Austrian supreme commander, Archduke Charles he took part in the Battle of Wagram, where he was wounded in the leg. :520–523:
Tsar Alexander I of Russia played a central role in the restoration of the Netherlands. Prince William VI (as he was now known), who had been living in exile in Prussia, met with Alexander I in March 1813. Alexander promised to support William and help restore an independent Netherlands with William as king. Russian troops in the Netherlands participated with their Prussian allies in restoring the dynasty. Dynastic considerations of marriage between the royal houses of Great Britain and the Netherlands, assured British approval.
After Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig (October 1813), the French troops retreated to France from all over Europe. The Netherlands had been annexed to the French Empire by Napoleon in 1810. But now city after city was evacuated by the French occupation troops. In the ensuing power vacuum a number of former Orangist politicians and former Patriots formed a provisional government in November 1813. Although a large number of the members of the provisional government had helped drive out William V 18 years earlier, it was taken for granted that his son would have to head any new regime. They also agreed it would be better in the long term for the Dutch to restore him themselves, rather than have the Great Powers impose him on the country. The Dutch population were pleased with the departure of the French, who had ruined the Dutch economy, and this time welcomed the prince. 634–642:
After having been invited by the Driemanschap (Triumvirate) of 1813, on 30 November 1813 William disembarked from HMS Warrior and landed at Scheveningen beach, only a few yards from the place where he had left the country with his father 18 years before, and on 6 December the provisional government offered him the title of King. William refused, instead proclaiming himself "Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands". He also wanted the rights of the people to be guaranteed by "a wise constitution". :643
The constitution offered William extensive (almost absolute) powers. Ministers were only responsible to him, while a unicameral parliament (the States General) exercised only limited power. He was inaugurated as sovereign prince in the New Church in Amsterdam on 30 March 1814. In August 1814, he was appointed Governor-General of the former Austrian Netherlands and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège (more or less modern-day Belgium) by the Allied Powers who occupied that country, ruling them on behalf of Prussia. He was also made Grand Duke of Luxembourg, having received that territory in return for trading his hereditary German lands to Prussia and the Duke of Nassau. The Great Powers had already agreed via the secret Eight Articles of London to unite the Low Countries into a single kingdom. It was believed that a united country on the North Sea would help keep France in check. With the de facto addition of the Austrian Netherlands and Luxembourg to his realm, William had fulfilled his family's three-century dream of uniting the Low Countries.
Feeling threatened by Napoleon, who had escaped from Elba, William proclaimed the Netherlands a kingdom on 16 March 1815 at the urging of the powers gathered at the Congress of Vienna. His son, the future king William II, fought as a commander at the Battle of Waterloo. After Napoleon had been sent into exile, William adopted a new constitution which included many features of the old constitution, such as extensive royal powers. He was formally confirmed as hereditary ruler of what was known as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands at the Congress of Vienna.
The States General was divided into two chambers. The Eerste Kamer (First Chamber or Senate or House of Lords) was appointed by the King. The Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber or House of Representatives or House of Commons) was elected by the Provincial States, which were in turn chosen by census suffrage. The 110 seats were divided equally between the North and the South, although the population of the North (2 million) was significantly less than that of the South (3.5 million). The States General's primary function was to approve the King's laws and decrees. The constitution contained many present-day Dutch political institutions; however, their functions and composition have changed greatly over the years.
The constitution was accepted in the North, but not in the South. The under-representation of the South was one of the causes of the Belgian Revolution. Referendum turnout was low, in the Southern provinces, but William interpreted all abstentions to be yes votes. He prepared a lavish inauguration for himself in Brussels, where he gave the people copper coins (leading to his first nickname, the Copper King).
The spearhead of King William's policies was economic progress. As he founded many trade institutions, his second nickname was the King-Merchant. In 1822, he founded the Algemeene Nederlandsche Maatschappij ter Begunstiging van de Volksvlijt, which would become one of the most important institutions of Belgium after its independence. Industry flourished, especially in the South. In 1817, he also founded three universities in the Southern provinces, such as a new University of Leuven, the University of Ghent and the University of Liège. The Northern provinces, meanwhile, were the centre of trade. This, in combination with the colonies (Dutch East Indies, Surinam, Curaçao and Dependencies, and the Dutch Gold Coast) created great wealth for the Kingdom. However, the money flowed into the hands of Dutch directors. Only a few Belgians managed to profit from the economic growth. Feelings of economic inequity were another cause of the Belgian uprising.
William was also determined to create a unified people, even though the north and the south had drifted far apart culturally and economically since the south was reconquered by Spain after the Act of Abjuration of 1581. The North was commercial, Protestant and entirely Dutch-speaking; the south was industrial, Roman Catholic and divided between Dutch and French-speakers.
Officially, a separation of church and state existed in the kingdom. However, William himself was a strong supporter of the Reformed Church. This led to resentment among the people in the mostly Catholic south. William had also devised controversial language and school policies. Dutch was imposed as the official language in (the Dutch-speaking region of) Flanders; this angered French-speaking aristocrats and industrial workers. Schools throughout the Kingdom were required to instruct students in the Reformed faith and the Dutch language. Many in the South feared that the King sought to extinguish Catholicism and the French language.
In August 1830 Daniel Auber's opera La muette de Portici , about the repression of Neapolitans, was staged in Brussels. Performances of this show seemed to crystallize a sense of nationalism and "Hollandophobia" in Brussels, and spread to the rest of the South. Rioting ensued, chiefly aimed at the kingdom's unpopular justice minister, Cornelis Felix van Maanen, who lived in Brussels. An infuriated William responded by sending troops to repress the riots. However, the riots had spread to other Southern cities. The riots quickly became popular uprisings. An independent state of Belgium emerged out of the 1830 Revolution.
The next year, William sent his sons William, the Prince of Orange,and Prince Frederick to invade the new state. Although initially victorious in this Ten Days' Campaign, the Dutch army was forced to retreat after the threat of French intervention. Some support for the Orange dynasty (chiefly among Flemings) persisted for years but the Dutch never regained control over Belgium. William nevertheless continued the war for eight years. His economic successes became overshadowed by a perceived mismanagement of the war effort. High costs of the war came to burden the Dutch economy, fueling public resentment. In 1839, William was forced to end the war. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was dissolved by the Treaty of London (1839) and the northern part continued as the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was not renamed, however, as the "United"-prefix had never been part of its official name, but rather was retrospectively added by historians for descriptive purposes (cf. Weimar Republic).
Constitutional changes were initiated in 1840 because the terms which involved the United Kingdom of the Netherlands had to be removed. These constitutional changes also included the introduction of judicial ministerial responsibility. Although the policies remained uncontrolled by parliament, the prerogative was controllable now. The very conservative William could not live with these constitutional changes. This, the disappointment about the loss of Belgium, and William I's intention to marry Henrietta d'Oultremont (paradoxically both "Belgian" and Roman Catholic) made him wish to abdicate. He fulfilled this intent on 7 October 1840 and his eldest son acceded to the throne as king William II. William I died in 1843 in Berlin at the age of 71.
With his wife Wilhelmina, King William I had six children:
|Ancestors of William I of the Netherlands|
The Batavian Republic was the successor of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. It was proclaimed on 19 January 1795 and ended on 5 June 1806, with the accession of Louis I to the throne of Holland. From October 1801 onward, it was known as the Batavian Commonwealth. Both names refer to the Germanic tribe of the Batavi, representing both the Dutch ancestry and their ancient quest for liberty in their nationalistic lore.
The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or simply United Provinces, and commonly referred to historiographically as the Dutch Republic, was a federal republic formally established from the formal creation of a federal state in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution of 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first fully independent Dutch nation state.
In the Low Countries, stadtholder was an office of steward, designated a medieval official and then a national leader. The stadtholder was the replacement of the duke or earl of a province during the Burgundian and Habsburg period.
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.
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.
Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia was the consort of William V of Orange and the de facto leader of the dynastic party and counter-revolution in the Netherlands. She was the daughter of Prince Augustus William of Prussia and Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Wilhelmina was the longest-serving Princess consort of Orange.
Gijsbert Karel, Count van Hogendorp was a liberal conservative and liberal Dutch statesman. He was the brother of Dirk van Hogendorp the elder and the father of Dirk van Hogendorp the younger.
The Batavian Revolution was a time of political, social and cultural turmoil at the end of the 18th century that marked the end of the Dutch Republic and saw the proclamation of the Batavian Republic. The period of Dutch history that followed the revolution is referred to as the "Batavian-French era" (1795–1813) even though the time spanned was only 20 years, of which three were under French occupation.
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.
The Flanders Campaign was conducted from 6 November 1792 to 7 June 1795 during the first years of the French Revolutionary Wars. A Coalition of states representing the Ancien Régime in Western Europe – Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Hanover and Hesse-Kassel – mobilised military forces along all the French frontiers, with the intention to invade Revolutionary France and end the French First Republic. The radicalised French revolutionaries, who broke the Catholic Church's power (1790), abolished the monarchy (1792) and even executed the deposed king Louis XVI of France (1793), vied to spread the Revolution beyond France's borders, by violent means if necessary.
In the history of the Dutch Republic, Orangism or prinsgezindheid was a political force opposing the Staatsgezinde (pro-Republic) party. Orangists supported the princes of Orange as Stadtholders and military commanders of the Republic, as a check on the power of the regenten. The Orangist party drew its adherents largely from traditionalists – mostly farmers, soldiers, noblemen and orthodox Catholic and Protestant preachers, though its support fluctuated heavily over the course of the Republic's history and there were never clear-cut socioeconomic divisions.
William II was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg.
Nassau-Orange-Fulda was a short-lived principality of the Holy Roman Empire, which was created for the son and heir of the Prince of Orange and Prince of Orange-Nassau and existed only from 1803 to 1806.
Orange-Nassau, also known as Nassau-Orange, was a principality which was part of the Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle within the Holy Roman Empire. It existed under this name between 1702 and 1815. The territory of the former state of Orange-Nassau is now part of Germany. It was ruled by the House of Orange-Nassau.
Frederick, Prince of Orange-Nassau was the youngest son of William V, Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic and Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia, sister of King Frederick William II. Commonly called Fritz inside the family, he chose a military career with the Holy Roman Empire, he died of a fever while serving in Padua, Italy.
The King's Dutch Brigade was a brigade of the British army, organised by the Hereditary Prince of Orange out of former officers and lower ranks of the former Dutch States Army, deserters from the Batavian army, and mutineers from the Batavian fleet that had surrendered to the Royal Navy in the Vlieter Incident during the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland in 1799, but fully in British service and paid for by the British government. It was commissioned on 21 October 1799 and was initially in garrison on the Isle of Wight and in Lymington. It saw service in Ireland in 1801, and afterwards back to the Isle of Wight and Lymington as well as to the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. The orders for the brigade to be disbanded were issued on 12 July 1802, as agreed in the Treaty of Amiens of 25 March 1802.
The Act of Guarantee of the hereditary stadtholderate was a document from 1788, in which the seven provinces of the States General and the representative of Drenthe declared, amongst other things, that the admiralty and captain-generalship were hereditary, and together with the hereditary stadtholderate would henceforth be an integrated part of the constitution of the Dutch Republic. Moreover, members of the House of Orange-Nassau would have the exclusive privilege to hold the office. The Act was in force until the Batavian Republic was established in 1795.
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William I of the NetherlandsBorn: 24 August 1772 Died: 12 December 1843
| Prince of Orange |
|New creation|| Count of Nassau|
due to German mediatization
| Prince of Nassau-Orange-Fulda |
due to creation Confederation of the Rhine
| Prince of Orange-Nassau |
Incorporated into Nassau
as King of Holland
| Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands |
Himself as King
as Sovereign Prince
| King of the Netherlands |
Title last held byFrancis I
as Duke of Luxembourg
| Grand Duke of Luxembourg |
Title last held byFrancis I
as Duke of Limburg
| Duke of Limburg |