William IV, Prince of Orange

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William IV
Willem Karel Hendrik Friso van Oranje-Nassau, attributed to Johann Valentin Tischbein.jpg
Portrait of William IV (1751), attributed to Johann Valentin Tischbein
Stadtholder of the United Provinces
Reign 4 May 1747 – 22 October 1751
Predecessor William III
Successor William V
Prince of Orange
Reign 1 September 1711 –
22 October 1751
Predecessor John William Friso
Successor William V
Born 1 September 1711
Leeuwarden, Dutch Republic
Died 22 October 1751(1751-10-22) (aged 40)
Huis ten Bosch, The Hague, Dutch Republic
Spouse Anne of Great Britain
Carolina, Princess of Nassau-Weilburg
Princess Anna of Orange-Nassau
William V, Prince of Orange
House Orange-Nassau
Father John William Friso, Prince of Orange
Mother Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel

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

Early life

William was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, the son of John William Friso, Prince of Orange, head of the Frisian branch of the House of Orange-Nassau, and of his wife Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel). He was born six weeks after the death of his father.

William succeeded his father as Stadtholder of Friesland and also, under the regency of his mother until 1731, as Stadtholder of Groningen. In 1722 he was elected Stadtholder of Guelders.

Marriage and children

In 1720 William was named the 549th Knight of the Order of the Garter. On 25 March 1734 he married at St. James' Palace Anne, Princess Royal, eldest daughter of King George II of Great Britain and Caroline of Ansbach. William and Anne had five children:

Later life

Portrait of William, 1751

In 1739 William inherited the estates formerly owned by the Nassau-Dillenburg branch of his family, and in 1743 he inherited those formerly owned by the Nassau-Siegen branch of his family.

In April 1747 the French army entered Flanders. In an effort to quell internal strife amongst the various factions, the States General of the Netherlands appointed William to the hereditary position of General Stadtholder of all seven of the United Provinces. William and his family moved from Leeuwarden to The Hague. William first met Duke Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg in 1747, and 2 years later appointed him field marshal of the Dutch States Army, which later led to his being one of the regents to William's heir. On 4 May 1747 he was confirmed as Hereditary Stattholder of the United Provinces (Netherlands).

William IV was considered an attractive, educated and accomplished prince in his prime. Although he had little experience in state affairs, William was at first popular with the people. He stopped the practice of indirect taxation by which independent contractors managed to make large sums for themselves. Nevertheless, he was also a Director-General of the Dutch East India Company, and his alliance with the business class deepened while the disparity between rich and poor grew.

William served as General Stadtholder of all the Netherlands until his death in 1751 at The Hague.

The county of Orange, Virginia, and the city of Orangeburg, South Carolina, are named after him.