John William Friso, Prince of Orange

John William Friso, Prince of Orange

John William Friso, Prince of Orange, Prince of Nassau-Dietz (4 August, 1687 – 14 July 1711) became the titulair Prince of Orange in 1702. He was stadholder of Friesland until his untimely death by drowning in the Hollands Diep in 1711. He was the son of Prince Henry Casimir II of Nassau-Dietz and a member of the House of Nassau and through the testamentary dispositions of William III became the progenitor of the new line of the House of Orange-Nassau.

After the death of William III of Orange, the legitimate direct male line of William the Silent (the 2nd House of Orange) was extinct and John William Friso, senior descendant in male line from William the Silent's brother and a descendant in female line from Frederick Henry, grandfather of William III, claimed the succession as stadtholder in all provinces held by Willem III. This was denied to him by the republican faction in the Netherlands.

The five provinces over which William III ruled — Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel — all suspended the office of Stadtholder after William III's death. The remaining two provinces — Friesland and Groningen — were never governed by William III, and continued to retain a separate Stadtholder, John William Friso. He commenced the 3rd House of Orange, which continues also today in person of Beatrix of the Netherlands. His son William IV of Orange, however, later became stadtholder of all seven provinces.

Because William III's most senior heir in the female line was Frederick I of Prussia, the latter also claimed part of the inheritance (for example Lingen). Under William III's will, Friso stood to inherit the Principality of Orange. However, the Prussian King Frederick I also claimed the Principality of Orange in Rhone Valley, which he later ceded to France.

When coming of age, John William Friso became a general of Dutch troops during the War of Spanish Succession, under the command of the Duke of Marlborough, and turned out to be a competent officer. His prestige could have favoured his eventual election as a stadtholder in the 5 other provinces. However, in 1711, when traveling from the Belgian front to The Hague in connection with the law suit about the Principality of Orange, in his haste he insisted in crossing the Hollands Diep during a heavy storm. The ferry boat sunk and John William Friso drowned. His son was born six weeks after his death.

On April 26, 1709, he married Marie Luise (1688-1765), daughter of Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) and granddaughter of Jacob Kettler, Duke of Courland. They had two children.
* Anna Charlotte "Amalia" (1710-1777), married in 1727 to Prince Friedrich of Baden-Durlach (1703-1732) and had issue.
* "Willem IV" Karel Hendrik Friso (1711-1751), married in 1734 to Anne, Princess Royal of Great Britain (1709-1759) and had issue.

John William Friso holds the position of being the most recent common ancestor to all currently reigning European royal families. []

ee also

* Royal descendants of John William Friso, Prince of Orange



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