Published On: Tue, Jan 29th, 2013

The Throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Orange Nassau family

The Monarch of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix, announced as Head of State, a transition of power to her son, Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange, in late April 2013. It will be the 7th peaceful transition in the 200-year old Kingdom of the Netherlands within the Orange-Nassau family and the 8th of the Kingdom if one includes the Kingdom of Holland under the French and recognizes its first king, King Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (1806-1810). From 1810-1813, Holland formed an integral part of the French Empire under Emperor Bonaparte. The 250 years before 1813, the Orange Nassau family tried very hard to become king, but failed miserably in spite of bloody and bloodshed in wars and many coup d’états.

The first Prince of Orange in the Low Lands was Willem the Silent (1533-1584), a vassal of the Habsburg ruler, Charles V and his son Phillips II. The Silent turned out to be a scoundrel and was declared an outlaw by King Phillips II of Spain, in 1580. The Low Lands formed part of Habsburg Netherlands from 1519-1581. The Silent was assassinated in 1584, after unilaterally declaring statehood of the dominions, as the Republic of the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands. This caused the young Republic a bloody 80-year war with the Spanish (1568-1648). The Silent’s brother, Prince Mauritz took over as self-proclaimed Stadtholder of six of the seven Provinces from 1585-1625.

Mauritz wanted to become king as well and therefore committed a bloody coup d’état in 1618 by arresting the Secretary of State, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and decapitating the poor 72-year old statesman in public on 13 May 1619. Mauritz did not make it as king and died childless in 1625.

His cousin, Prince Frederik Hendrik (1584-1647) of Friesland built palaces and set up a royal Court in Bois du Comte, or La Haye--- nowadays The Hague. Frederik also did not make it as king to the great dismay of his spouse Amalia of Solms Braunfels, since he died in 1647 waiting patiently for international recognition of statehood at the Peace of Westminster (Munster) in 1648.

Frederik’s son, Willem II succeeded immediately and strongly refuted the Peace of Westminster since it did not grant him Kingship over the Republic. Furious and outraged, Willem marched on Amsterdam in 1650 with his cousin Willem Frederik van Nassau Dietz and 10,000 mercenary troops. The troops got stuck in the mud and Willem died of smallpox, so they say, on November 6 of the same year. His wife and newborn son (November 4, 1650), Willem III, fled and went into exile in France.

A 22-year-old Willem III saw his fortunes change in 1672 and marched in the winter with his troops on The Hague. He had the Secretary of State; Johan and his brother Cornelius de Wit lynched and ripped to pieces by a furious mob. In spite of all the bloodshed, Willem III did not make it as King of the Republic either, but it must have been great consolation to his deceased parents when he was crowned King of England in 1689 due to marriage with Mary, daughter of Mary Stuart II.

The Republic remained a Republic till 1795 when it became under French domination and was officially called, The Batavian Republic of the Netherlands till 1806.

Prince Willem VI of Nassau Dietz finally made it as king Willem I in 1813 or 1815, and without further bloodshed.

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