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William II, Prince of Orange

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William II, Prince of Orange, (1626-1650)

William II, Prince of Orange, was the grandson of stadtholder Frederik Hendrik of Orange[?]. William the Silent had been succeeded in the position known as stadtholder and as military commander by his son Maurits of Nassau, who in turn was followed by his brother Frederick Henry. William II’s ancestors governed in conjunction with the States-General, an assembly made up of representatives of each of the seven provinces but usually dominated by the largest and wealthiest province, Holland.

In 1641, he married Mary, daughter of King Charles I of England.

William II became involved in a bitter quarrel with the province of Holland and the powerful merchants of Amsterdam resulting in William putting many of them in prison. In 1648 he opposed acceptance of the Treaty of Münster, despite the fact that it recognized the independence of the Netherlands. Secretly, William opened his own negotiations with France with the goal of extending his own territory under a centralized government. In addition, he worked for the restoration of his brother-in-law, Charles II, to the throne of England.

After ruling for only three years, he died of smallpox in 1650. Following his death, no stadtholder was appointed in Holland and four other provinces for more than 20 years.

His son, born shortly after William’s death, would become William III of England.

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