Louis Napoleon, the brother of the French emperor Napoleon I, was the first and only king of the Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810) until its annexation to the French Empire. During the Congress of Vienna in 1814–1815, it was decided that the Nether lands, again independent since December 1813, would be enlarged with the former Austrian, or Southern, Netherlands. The sovereign of the Northern Netherlands, William, was designated king. William I preferred a strong personal reign. Parliamentary influ ence was only marginal under the constitution of 1815. The king governed his people as an “enlightened despot,” yet with great en thusiasm and energy, particularly stimulating trade, industry, and colonial exploitation. In 1839, he reluctantly accepted the secession of the Southern Netherlands as the independent state of Belgium. In 1848, his son William II had to accept a liberal constitution. King William III, a conservative and unimaginative person, could only reluctantly accept this curtailment of royal power. After the po litical crises of 1866–1868, the monarchy assumed a constitutional parliamentary character: the king could not retain a minister against the will of the majority in Parliament. After the death of his wife, Queen Sophia (1818–1877), and the early deaths of two of his three sons, William III in 1879 married the young Princess Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont (1858–1934).
   Their only daughter, Wilhelmina, ultimately succeeded William III. She had a strong personality and during her long reign from 1898 to 1948 proved capable of steering the monarchy through several storms. She accepted the process of political democratization, in cluding universal suffragein 1917. In 1918, an attempt at social rev olution by the leader of the Social Democrats, Pieter Jelles Troel stra, failed, owing to massive loyalty of the people to the monarchy. The fact that the royal family left the country for England after the German invasion of the Netherlands during World WarII has been criticized, but most people think it was wiser that the monarchy not serve as a hostage in Nazi hands.
   Queen Juliana and her daughter Queen Beatrix have, by their open and flexible attitude toward fundamental changes in Dutch so ciety and politics, secured the popularity of the monarchy.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.


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