1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Orange, House of

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ORANGE, HOUSE OF. The small principality of Orange, a district now included in the French department of Vaucluse, traces back its history as an independent sovereignty to the time of Charlemagne. William, surnamed le Cornet, who lived towards the end of the 8th century, is said to have been the first prince of Orange, but the succession is only certainly known after the time of Gerald Adhemar (fl. 1086). In 1174 the principality passed by marriage to Bertrand de Baux, and there were nine princes of this line. By the marriage of John of Chalons with Marie de Baux, the house of Chalons succeeded to the sovereignty in 1393. The princes of Orange-Chalons were (i) John I., 1393–1418, (2) Louis I., 1418–1463, (3) William VIII., 1463–1475, (4) John II., (1475–1502, (5) Philibert , 1502–1530. Philibert was a great warrior and statesman, who was held in great esteem by the emperor Charles V. For his services in his campaigns the emperor gave him considerable possessions in the Netherlands in 1522, and Francis I. of France, who had occupied Orange, was compelled, when a prisoner in Madrid, to restore it to him. Philibert had no children, and he was succeeded by his nephew Réné of Nassau-Chalons, son of Philibert’s sister Claudia and Henry, count of Nassau, the confidential friend and counsellor of Charles V. He too died without an heir in 1544 at the siege of St Dizier, having devised all his titles and possessions to his first cousin William, the eldest son of William, count of Nassau-Dillenburg, who was the younger brother of Rene’s father, and had inherited the German possessions of the family.

William of Orange-Nassau was but eleven years old when he succeeded to the principality. He was brought up at the court of Charles V. and became famous in history as William the Silent, the founder of the Dutch Republic. On his assassination in 1584 he was succeeded by his eldest son Philip William, who had been kidnapped by Philip II. of Spain in his boyhood and brought up at Madrid. This prince never married, and on his death in 1618 his next brother, Maurice, stadtholder in the United Netherlands and one of the greatest generals of his time, became prince of Orange. Maurice died in 1625, also unmarried. Frederick Henry, the son of Louise de Coligny, William’s fourth wife, born just before his father’s murder, now succeeded to the princedom of Orange and to all his brothers’ dignities, posts and property in the Netherlands. Frederick Henry was both a great general and statesman. His only son, William, was married in 1641 to Mary, princess royal of England, he being fifteen and the princess nine years old at that date, and he succeeded to the title of prince of Orange on his father’s death in 1647. At the very outset of a promising career he suddenly succumbed to an attack of smallpox on the 6th of November 1650, his son William III. being born a week after his father’s death.

A revolution now took place in the system of government in the United Provinces, and the offices of stadtholder and captain-and admiral-general, held by four successive princes of Orange, were abolished. However, the counter revolution of 1672 called William III. to the head of affairs. At this time Louis XIV. conquered the principality of Orange and the territory was incorporated in France, the title alone being recognized by the treaty of Ryswick. William married his cousin Mary, the eldest daughter of James, duke of York, in 1677. In 1688 he landed in England, expelled his father-in-law, James II., from his throne, and reigned as king of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1702. He left no children, and a dispute arose among various claimants to the title of prince of Orange. The king of Prussia claimed it as the descendant of the eldest daughter of Frederick Henry; John William Friso of Nassau-Dietz claimed it as the descendant of John, the brother of William the Silent, and also of the second daughter of Frederick Henry. The result was that at the peace of Utrecht in 1713, the king of Prussia abandoned the principality to the king of France in exchange for compensation elsewhere, and John William Friso gained the barren title and became William IV. prince of Orange. His sons William V. and William VI. succeeded him. William VI. in 1815 became William I. king of the Netherlands.

See Bastet, Histoire de la ville et de la principauté d’Orange (Orange 1856).  (G. E.)