William V, Prince of Orange

William V, Prince of Orange (Willem Batavus; 8 March 1748 – 9 April 1806) was the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. He went into exile to London in 1795. He was the reigning Prince of Nassau-Orange until his death in 1806. In that capacity he was succeeded by his son William.

William V
William V, Prince of Orange - Bone 1801
Portrait by Henry Bone (1801)
Stadtholder of the United Provinces
Reign22 October 1751 – 23 February 1795
PredecessorWilliam IV
SuccessorStadtholdership abolished
Prince of Orange
Reign22 October 1751 – 9 April 1806
PredecessorWilliam IV
SuccessorWilliam VI
Born8 March 1748
The Hague
Died9 April 1806 (aged 58)
SpouseWilhelmina of Prussia
IssueLouise, Hereditary Princess of Brunswick
William I of the Netherlands
Prince Frederick of Orange-Nassau
Full name
Willem Batavus
FatherWilliam IV, Prince of Orange
MotherAnne of Great Britain and Ireland
ReligionDutch Reformed Church

Early life

William Batavus was born in The Hague on 8 March 1748, the only son of William IV, who had the year before been restored as stadtholder of the United Provinces. He was only three years old when his father died in 1751, and a long regency began. His regents were:

William was made the 568th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1752.


William V assumed the position of stadtholder and Captain-General of the Dutch States Army on his majority in 1766. However, he allowed the Duke of Brunswick to retain a large influence on the government with the secret Acte van Consulentschap. On 4 October 1767 in Berlin, Prince William married Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia, the daughter of Augustus William of Prussia, niece of Frederick the Great and a cousin of George III. (He himself was George III's first cousin).[1]:55-58 He became an art collector and in 1774 his Galerij Prins Willem V was opened to the public.

Johann Georg Ziesenis - Willem V prins van Oranje-Nassau - c 1770
Portrait by Johann Georg Ziesenis (c. 1768–1769)

The position of the Dutch during the American War of Independence was one of neutrality. William V, leading the pro-British faction within the government, blocked attempts by pro-American-independence, and later pro-French, elements to drag the government to war in support of the Franco-American alliance. 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. In spite of the fact that Britain was engaged in fighting on several fronts, the war went badly for the poorly prepared Dutch, leading to the loss of St. Eustatius and Nagapattinam.[1]:58-63 Scandals like the Brest Affair undermined belief in the Dutch navy. The stadtholderian regime and the Duke of Brunswick were suspected of treason in the matter of the loss of the Barrier fortresses.[1]:56 The deterioration of the prestige of the regime made minds ripe for agitation for political reform, like the pamphlet Aan het Volk van Nederland, published in 1781 by Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol.[1]:64-68

After the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783), there was growing restlessness in the United Provinces with William's rule. A coalition of old Dutch States Party regenten and democrats, called Patriots, was challenging his authority more and more. In 1785 William left the Hague and removed his court to Het Loo Palace in Gelderland, a province remote from the political center.[1]:104-105 In September 1786 he sent States-Army troops to Hattem and Elburg to overthrow the cities' Patriot vroedschap, despite the defense by Patriot Free Corps, organised by Herman Willem Daendels. This provoked the Patriot-dominated States of Holland to deprive him of his office of Captain-General of the States Army.[1]:107-109 In June 1787 his energetic wife Wilhelmina tried to travel to the Hague to foment an Orangist rising in that city. Outside Schoonhoven, she was stopped by Free Corps, taken to a farm near Goejanverwellesluis and after a short detention made to return to Nijmegen.[1]:127

To Wilhelmina and her brother, Frederick William II of Prussia, this was both an insult and an excuse to intervene militarily. Frederick launched the Prussian invasion of Holland in September 1787 to suppress the Patriots.[1]:128-132 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.[1]:132-135

Exile in Great Britain and Ireland

In The Orangerie (1796), James Gillray caricatured William's dalliances during his exile, depicting him as an indolent Cupid sleeping on bags of money, surrounded by pregnant amours

William V joined the First Coalition against Republican France in 1793 with the coming of the French Revolution. His troops fought bravely in the Flanders Campaign, but in 1794 the military situation deteriorated and the Dutch Republic was threatened by invading armies. The year 1795 was a disastrous one for the ancien régime of the Netherlands. Supported by the French Army, the revolutionaries returned from Paris to fight in the Netherlands, and in 1795 William V went into exile in England. A few days later the Batavian Revolution occurred, and the Dutch Republic was replaced with the Batavian Republic.[2]:1121 [1]:190–192

Directly after his arrival in England, the Prince wrote a number of letters (known as the Kew Letters) from his new residence in Kew to the governors of the Dutch colonies, instructing them to hand over their colonies to the British "for safe-keeping." Though only a number complied, this contributed to their confusion and demoralisation. Almost all Dutch colonies were in the course of time occupied by the British, who in the end returned most, but not all (South Africa and Ceylon), first at the Treaty of Amiens and later with the Convention of London 1814.[2]:1127

In 1799 the Hereditary Prince took an active part in the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland, engineering the capture of a Batavian naval squadron in the Vlieter Incident. The surrender of the ships (that had been paid for by the Batavian Republic) was formally accepted in the name of William V as stadtholder, who was later allowed to "sell" them to the Royal Navy for an appreciable amount.[3] But that was his only success, as the troops suffered from choleric diseases, and civilians at that time were unwilling to re-instate the old regime. The arrogance of the tone in his proclamation, demanding the restoration of the stadtholderate, may not have been helpful, according to Simon Schama.[1]:393–394

After the Peace of Amiens in 1802, in which Great Britain recognised the Batavian Republic, an additional Franco-Prussian Convention of 23 May 1802 declared that the House of Orange would be ceded in perpetuity the domains of Dortmund, Weingarten, Fulda and Corvey in lieu of its Dutch estates and revenues (this became the Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda). As far as Napoleon was concerned, this cession was conditional on the liquidation of the stadtholderate and other hereditary offices of the Prince. William V, however had no interest in towns, territories and abbeys confiscated from other rulers, but wanted what was his due: his arrears in salaries and other financial perquisites since 1795, or a lump sum of 4 million guilders. The foreign minister of the Batavian Republic, Maarten van der Goes, was willing to secretly try to persuade the Staatsbewind of the Batavian Republic to grant this additional indemnity, but Napoleon put a stop to it, when he got wind of the affair.[1]:452–454

The last of the Dutch stadtholders, William V died in exile at his daughter's palace in Brunswick, now in Germany. His body was moved to the Dutch Royal Family crypt in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft on 29 April 1958.

In 1813, his son, King William I returned to the Netherlands and became the first Dutch monarch from the House of Orange.


Willem v (2)
Willem V and Wilhelmina with their children Louise, William, and Frederick

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


During his life and afterwards William V was a controversial person, in himself, and because he was the unwilling center of a political firestorm that others had caused. Many historians and contemporaries have written short appreciations of him that were often acerbic. Phillip Charles, Count of Alvensleben, who was Prussian envoy to the Hague from 1787 (so not someone who must be suspected to be prejudiced against William) may be taken as an example. He wrote:

His education has all been theory. Duke Louis of Brunswick kept him away from practical affairs and did all the work himself, while the stadtholder merely signed documents. Hence this habit, this compulsion, of talking about public affairs, and turning the functions of stadtholder into the holding of tedious audiences of five, six, seven hours in length, swamping practical problems in useless verbiage, though putting forward wide-ranging proposals, often marked by sound reasoning, sometimes even by genius. Finally, the cardinal defect of settling nothing, of bringing nothing to a point, of replying to nothing, of signing nothing, of concluding nothing; but always of being the stadtholder in theory and never in practice. When he sets to work he does not know how to distinguish the functions of the head of the chancery from those of a mere secretary. In place of taking decisions on a hundred cases, he wastes his time in copying out some memorandum which has been presented to him. Nothing will ever change him, his bent is fixed, and when the Patriots declared that he fulfilled his functions in a ghastly fashion they were quite right.[5]

His great-great-granddaughter Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was less kind. She simply called him a sufferd (dotard).[6]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Schama, Simon (1992). Patriots and Liberators. Revolution in the Netherlands 1780-1813. Vintage books.
  2. ^ a b Israel, J.I. (1995). The Dutch Republic. Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806. Clarendon Press.
  3. ^ James, W.M. (2002). The Naval History of Great Britain: During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Vol. 2 1797-1799. Stackpole books. pp. 309–310.
  4. ^ Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 88.
  5. ^ Cobban, A. (1954). Ambassadors and secret agents: the diplomacy of the first Earl of Malmesbury at the Hague. Jonathan Cape. p. 23.
  6. ^ Meerkerk, E. van (2007). "De laatste stadhouder. Willem V (1748-1806) in: Historisch Nieuwsblad 10/2007". Historisch Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  7. ^ Earle, Anton et al. (2005), A preliminary basin profile of the Orange/Senqu River (pdf), African Centre for Water Research, retrieved 30 June 2007

External links

William V, Prince of Orange
Cadet branch of the House of Nassau
Born: 8 March 1748 Died: April 9 1806
Dutch nobility
Preceded by
William IV
Prince of Orange
Succeeded by
William VI
Regnal titles
Preceded by
William IV of Orange
Prince of Orange-Nassau
Succeeded by
William VI of Orange
Baron of Breda
Lordship dissolved
incorporated in Batavian Republic
General Stadtholder of the United Provinces
Function abolished
followed by Batavian Republic
Batavian Revolution in Amsterdam

The Batavian Revolution in Amsterdam refers to the transfer of power in the city of Amsterdam on 18 January 1795 to a Revolutionary Committee of the new Batavian Republic. The same day the stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, William V, Prince of Orange fled the country. Amsterdam was the first city that declared itself in the Batavian Revolution that brought about the Batavian Republic.

Christian Ernst Graf

Christian Ernst Friedrich Graf (Rudolstadt, 30 June 1723 – The Hague, 17 July 1804) was a Dutch Kapellmeister and composer of German descent. He was Kapellmeister to William V, Prince of Orange and resident in the Netherlands from 1762, where he changed the spelling of his name to Graaf.He was the son of Kapellmeister de:Johann Graf (1684–1750) and brother of the flautist Friedrich Hartmann Graf.

Constantia van Lynden

Constantia van Lynden (1761-1831) was a Dutch noblewoman. She is known as the love interest of William V, Prince of Orange, who courted her in 1779-1782, which caused a scandal and attracted attention in contemporary Netherlands. The affair was used as propaganda by the Patriottentijd for political reasons and she was portrayed as potentially politically influential.

De Post van den Neder-Rhijn

De Post van den Neder-Rhijn ("The Post of the Nether Rhine") was a Patriot magazine from 1781 to 1787, at the end of the Dutch Republic. It was one of the first opinion weeklies in the Netherlands, and was edited by Pieter 't Hoen (1744–1828).Through the first publication of De Post van den Neder-Rhijn in January 1781 the periodical political opinion press was born in the Netherlands.After the Prussian invasion of Holland in September 1787 and the following Orange Restoration, the paper initially tried to placate the stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange by welcoming his return, but shortly thereafter the publication was discontinued, and 't Hoen fled abroad (probably France or the Southern Netherlands). In March 1795, after Revolutionary France's successful Flanders campaign and the proclamation of the Batavian Republic, he returned and resumed the publication of what was now called De nieuwe post van den Neder-Rhyn ("The New Post of the Nether Rhine") until December 1799. A separate editorial staff without 't Hoen published a few more issues in 1797 en 1798 using the magazine's old title.

Elias Stein (chess player)

Elias Stein (5 February 1748, Forbach – 12 September 1812, The Hague) was a Dutch chess master. Born in Lorraine into a Jewish family, he settled in The Hague.

Stein was also employed as chess teacher of the sons of William V, Prince of Orange, and thereby introduced chess to the Dutch high society.He recommended what is now known as Dutch Defence as the best reply to 1.d4 in his book Nouvel essai sur le jeu des échecs, avec des réflexions militaires relatives à ce jeu (1789). His biography was written by lieutenant-colonel F.W. von Mauvillon in the book Anweisung zur Erlernung des Schachspiels (Essen, Germany, 1827).


The Gevangenpoort (Prisoner's Gate) is a former gate and medieval prison on the Buitenhof in The Hague, Netherlands. It is situated next to the 18th-century art gallery founded by William V, Prince of Orange in 1774 known as the Prince William V Gallery.

Kew Letters

The Kew Letters (also known as the Circular Note of Kew) were a number of letters, written by stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange between 30 January and 8 February 1795 from the "Dutch House" at Kew Palace, where he temporarily stayed after his trip to England on 18 January 1795. The letters were written in his capacity of Captain-general of the Dutch Republic to the civil and military authorities in the provinces of Zeeland and Friesland (that had not yet capitulated at the time), to the officers commanding Dutch naval vessels in British harbours and to Dutch colonial governors. It urged them to continue resistance in cooperation with Great Britain against the armed forces of the French Republic that had invaded the Dutch Republic and forced him to flee to England. In particular the letters to the colonial governors played an important role, because they ordered them to surrender those colonies to the British "for safekeeping".

The governors of Malacca, Amboina, and West Sumatra complied without a fight. Cochin surrendered after a brief bombardment. The rest of the Dutch enclaves in southern India and seaside Sri Lanka were quickly overrun. Elsewhere, though the governors did not comply with the order to put their military installations at British disposal, many were confused and demoralised by the letters.

In the 1801 Oranienstein Letters, William V and his son did recognise the Batavian Republic, and renounced their hereditary stadtholderate.

Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel

Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel (7 February 1688 – 9 April 1765) was a Dutch regent, Princess of Orange by marriage to John William Friso, Prince of Orange, and regent of the Netherlands during the minority of her son and her grandson. She was a daughter of Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and Maria Amalia of Courland. She and her husband are the most recent common ancestors all currently reigning monarchs in Europe.

Marie Louise is notable for having served as regent for two periods in Dutch history: during the reigns of her young son, William IV, Prince of Orange from 1711 and 1730, and of her young grandson, William V, Prince of Orange, from 1759 to 1765. She was often fondly referred to as Marijke Meu (Aunt Mary) by her Dutch subjects.

List of ambassadors of the Netherlands to Turkey

The Dutch ambassador in Ankara is the official representative of the Government in Amsterdam to the Government of Turkey.

Nieuwe Kerk (Delft)

The Nieuwe Kerk (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈniʋə ˈkɛrk]; English: New Church) is a Protestant church in the city of Delft in the Netherlands. The building is located on Delft Market Square (Markt), opposite to the City Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis). In 1584, William the Silent was entombed here in a mausoleum designed by Hendrick and Pieter de Keyser. Since then members of the House of Orange-Nassau have been entombed in the royal crypt. The latest are Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard in 2004. The private royal family crypt is not open to the public. The church tower, designed by Pierre Cuypers and completed in 1872 , is the second highest in the Netherlands, after the Domtoren in Utrecht.

Oranienstein Letters

The Oranienstein Letters are a series of letters sent by William V, Prince of Orange in December 1801 from Schloss Oranienstein near Diez, Germany. William addressed them to 15 Orangist ex-regenten of the old Dutch Republic, whom he advised to no longer stay out of government. This meant that some of his instructions given in the Kew Letters, that urged resistance against the French–Batavian invasion, were no longer in effect. He and his son, William Frederick, also recognised the Batavian Republic as legitimate, and renounced their hereditary stadtholderate. These were preconditions set by First Consul Napoleon of the French Republic for compensation for the loss of their possessions in the Netherlands, that had been confiscated by the Batavian Republic.William V only decreed these letters after much hesitations, and he would later refuse to accept the mediatised Fulda monastery and the Imperial Abbey of Corvey as compensation, but he agreed that William Frederick did, and thus became Prince of Nassau-Orange-Fulda.

Pieter van Os

Pieter Gerardus van Os (8 October 1776 – 28 March 1839) was a Dutch painter and engraver and a member of the renowned Van Os family of artists.

Van Os was born in The Hague the son of Jan van Os. He studied with his father and from 1794 to 1795 at the Tekenakademie in The Hague. During this period he copied paintings from the works by Paulus Potter and Charles Dujardin. Van Os was particularly fond of animals as his subject matter and made such an excellent copy of one of Potter's works - Young Bull - that it was purchased by William V, Prince of Orange.

After completing his training, he departed for Amsterdam, where he supported himself primarily by painting rather mediocre portrait miniatures and giving drawing lessons. Around 1805 he began to devote himself to producing landscape paintings filled with his favourite subject of cattle and was still strongly influenced by the 17th-century Dutch masters. In 1808, his Hilly Landscape with Cattle (untraced) won the prize provided by King Louis Bonaparte for the best landscape at the first public exhibition of Dutch contemporary art in Amsterdam.

In 1813 and 1814 he trained as a captain of volunteers and experienced military engagements. This led him to try military subjects in his art. Emperor Alexander I of Russia purchased a picture in this theme by Van Os and placed it in his palace at St. Petersburg. Van Os died in the Hague in 1839.

His son Pieter Frederik van Os (1808 — 1892) became a painter and teacher who taught Anton Mauve among others.

Selected artwork

Prince Frederick of Orange-Nassau

Frederick, Prince of Orange-Nassau (English: William George Frederick, Dutch: Willem George Frederik; 15 February 1774 – 6 January 1799) 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.

Prince William V Gallery

The Prince William V Gallery is an art gallery on the Buitenhof in The Hague that currently shares an entrance with the Gevangenpoort museum. It is a modern recreation of the gallery Galerij Prins Willem V once founded there by William V, Prince of Orange in 1774. The collection is part of the Mauritshuis.

Though built in 1774, the gallery has not been continuously open, mostly because the collection was abducted by the French 20 years after it opened and another 20 years passed before most of the works were recovered. In the meantime another gallery was opened in nearby Huis ten Bosch and undeterred by events, Prince William continued collecting art for a new gallery. After recovery of most important works in 1815, the large collection was re-housed in 1822 in the Mauritshuis. The old location was kept on as an archive. It wasn't reopened as an art gallery until 1977.

Schloss Oranienstein

Schloss Oranienstein is one of the palaces of the house of Orange-Nassau, sited at Diez on the Lahn. It was built on the ruins of Dierstein Abbey between 1672 and 1681 for Countess Albertine Agnes of Nassau after she was widowed.

After the French Republican invasion destroyed the Dutch Republic in 1795, stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange and his family first fled to England, before settling in Oranienstein for several years. Here, William and his son William Frederick issued the Oranienstein Letters, recognising the Batavian Republic and renouncing their stadtholderate and territorial claims in the Netherlands in return for financial and territorial compensation elsewhere, granted by First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte.

After the annexation of the Duchy of Nassau by Prussia in 1866, the palace was given to the Prussian army the following year. It is still today occupied by the Bundeswehr, together with adjacent barracks, but also houses a museum.

William IV, Prince of Orange

William IV (Willem Karel Hendrik Friso; 1 September 1711 – 22 October 1751) was Prince of Orange-Nassau and the first hereditary stadtholder of all the United Provinces.

William I of the Netherlands

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.

William V

William V may refer to:

William V, Count of Nevers (fl. 1175–1181)

William V, Duke of Aquitaine (969–1030)

William V, Duke of Bavaria (1548–1626)

William V, Duke of Jülich (1299–1361)

William V, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (1602–1637)

William V, Marquess of Montferrat (c. 1115–1191)

William V, Prince of Orange (1748–1806)

William V of Holland (disambiguation)

William V of Jülich-Berg (1516–1592)

William V of Montpellier (1075–1121)

William V of Holland

William V of Holland may refer to:

William I, Duke of Bavaria (1330–1389), son of the emperor Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor and his second wife Margaret of Holland

William V, Prince of Orange (1748–1806), son of William IV and Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange

Ancestors of William V, Prince of Orange[4]
16. William Frederick, Prince of Nassau-Dietz
8. Henry Casimir II, Count of Nassau-Dietz
17. Countess Albertine Agnes of Nassau
4. John William Friso, Prince of Orange
18. John George II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
9. Henriëtte Amalia van Anhalt-Dessau
19. Henriette Catherine of Nassau
2. William IV, Prince of Orange
20. William VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
10. Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
21. Hedwig Sophia of Brandenburg
5. Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel
22. Jacob Kettler
11. Maria Amalia of Courland
23. Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg
1. William V, Prince of Orange
24. Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover
12. George I of Great Britain
25. Sophia of the Palatinate
6. George II of Great Britain
26. George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
13. Sophia Dorothea of Celle
27. Éléonore Desmier d'Olbreuse
3. Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange
28. Albert II, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
14. John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
29. Sophie Margarete of Oettingen-Oettingen
7. Caroline of Ansbach
30. John George I, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach
15. Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach
31. Countess Johanna of Sayn-Wittgenstein
Stadtholders of Holland, Zeeland and (from 1528) Utrecht

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