William I


William I
(1772–1843)
   King of the Netherlands and oldest son of the last stadtholder from the house of Orange-Nassau; general in the Prussian Army. In 1802, William obtained control over Fulda and Corvey in Germany as an indemnity for the loss of his possessions after the Batavian Revolution of 1795. He returned to England in 1809. In December 1813, he accepted sovereignty over the Nether lands upon the retreat of the French occupation authorities. After the Congress of Vienna in 1814–1815, he became King William I of the Netherlands (combining the former Dutch Republic and the Austrian Netherlands). The constitution of 1815 created space for the enlightened, autocratic regime that the new king had in mind. William stimulated commerce by founding new bankinginsti tutions and tradingcompanies, in which he took personal shares, and improving the economic infrastructure of the canals and highways. The paternalistic king-entrepreneur returned in certain respects to the ancien regime political structures whereby the nobility regained some influence.
   Neither the king nor his principal minister Cornelis van Maanen, however, had sufficient feeling for the awakening of liberalsentiments or the clerical antipathy in the southern part against the Protestant king. The revolutionary movement of 1830 (the Belgian Revolt) af fected Brussels as well, where insurgents proclaimed the independent state of Belgium. Military intervention was not successful in restoring the government’s authority in the South, and Great Britain did not support William as the legitimate ruler. William stubbornly sought to alter the status quo of 1831—a policy that led to a financial debacle. In 1839, the government was finally forced to accept the secession of the Belgian kingdom. In 1840, the king abdicated, disappointed by the ris ing criticism of his policy and of his remarriage with the Belgian Ro man Catholic countess Henriette d’Oultremont.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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