William V, Prince of Orange

William V, Prince of Orange

William V Batavus, Prince of Orange and Nassau (March 8, 1748 – April 9, 1806) was the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. He was the leader of the conservative faction.


William V was born at The Hague, the son of William IV, Prince of Orange and Anne, Princess Royal. He was only 3 years old when his father died in 1751, and a long regency began. His regents were:
*Anne, his mother, from 1751 to her death in 1759;
*Marie Louise, his grandmother, from 1759 to her death in 1765;
*Ludwig Ernst von Brunswick-Lüneburg-Bevern, from 1759 to 1766, and kept on as a privy counsellor till October 1784;
*Carolina, his sister (who at the time was an adult aged 22, while he was still a minor at 17), from 1765 to William's majority in 1766.

William V assumed the position of stadtholder (chief executive and military commander) in 1766. In October 1767 Prince William married Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia, the daughter of the Duke of Brunswick, niece of Frederick the Great and a cousin of George III, etc.

The position of the Dutch during the American Revolution was one of neutrality. William V, leading the pro-English faction within the government, blocked attempts by pro-revolutionary, and later pro-French, elements to drag the government to war. However, things came to a head with the Dutch attempt to join the Russian-led League of Armed Neutrality, leading to the outbreak of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War in 1780. The United Provinces recognized the United States in February 1782, after much political debate and pressure from American and French diplomats. Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol and Court Lambertus van Beyma took the initiative.

James Gillray caricatured William's dalliances during his exile, depicting him as an indolent Cupid sleeping on bags of money, surrounded by pregnant amours.]

When the Dutch were defeated, the Treaty of Paris (1783) was signed. An impoverished nation grew restless under William's rule. In the meantime, a band of young revolutionaries, called Patriots, was challenging his authority more and more. In 1785 William left the Hague and removed his court to Guelders, a province remote from the political centre. In September 1786 he had to send an army to stop Herman Willem Daendels, organizing an overthrow at the cities' vroedschap. In June 1787 his energetic wife Wilhelmina tried to travel to the Hague. Outside Schoonhoven, she was stopped by militia, taken to a farm near Goejanverwellesluis and within two days made to return to Nijmegen.

To Wilhelmina and her brother, Frederick William II of Prussia, this was an insult. Frederick sent in an army to attack the dissidents. Many patriots fled to the North of France, around Saint-Omer, in an area where Dutch was spoken. Until his overthrow they were supported by King Louis XVI of France. They were reorganizing themselves, playing billiard, debating and watching the rise of "people power."

The year 1795 was a disastrous one for the monarchy of the Netherlands. Supported by the French Army, the revolutionaries returned from Paris to fight in the Netherlands, and in 1795 William V fled to the safety of his former enemy, England. The last of the Dutch stadtholders, he died in exile at Brunswick, now in Germany. His body was moved to the Dutch Royal Family crypt in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft on April 29, 1958.

In 1813, his son, King William I returned to the Netherlands and became the first Dutch monarch from the House of Orange.The first king of Holland (1806-1810) was Louis Bonaparte (1778-1846).



William V and Wilhelmina of Prussia were parents to five children:

*An unnamed son (23 March - 24 March, 1769).
*Frederica Louise Wilhelmina, Princess of Orange-Nassau (28 November, 1770 - 15 October, 1819). Married Karl Georg August, Prince of Brunswick-Luneburg, a son of Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg and Princess Augusta Charlotte of Wales.
*An unnamed son (born and deceased on 6 August, 1771).
*William I, King of the Netherlands (25 August, 1772 - December 12, 1843).
*William George Frederick, Prince of Orange-Nassau (15 February, 1774 - 6 January, 1799).

ee also

* House of Orange-Nassau


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