William II of the Netherlands

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William II (Willem Frederik George Lodewijk van Oranje-Nassau) (6 December 1792 – 17 March 1849) was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg from 7 October 1840 until his death.


Early life and education

Willem Frederik George Lodewijk was born on 6 December 1792 in The Hague. He was the eldest son of King William I of the Netherlands and Wilhelmine of Prussia. His maternal grandparents were King Frederick William II of Prussia and his second wife Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.

When William was three he and his family fled to England after allied British-Hanoverian mercenaries left the Republic and entering French troops joined the anti-orangist Patriots. William spent his youth in Berlin at the Prussian court. There he followed a military education and served in the Prussian army. Afterwards he studied at the University of Oxford.

Military service

He entered the British Army, and in 1811, as aide-de-camp to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, took part in several campaigns of the Peninsular War. He returned to the Netherlands in 1813 when his father became king.

In 1815, William became crown prince and he took service in the army when Napoleon I of France escaped from Elba. He fought as commander of I Allied Corps at the Battle of Quatre Bras (16 June 1815) and the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), where he was wounded.[1] He showed personal courage and energy, but frequently displayed atrocious military judgement,[citation needed] leading to many heavy casualties (some historians[who?] believe he exposed infantry in line to cavalry three times during the course of the Battle of Waterloo). The Duke of Wellington attributed this to his lack of command experience, however, rather than to his being a bad leader.[citation needed]

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