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William I,1797–1888, emperor of Germany (1871–88) and king of Prussia (1861–88), second son of the future King Frederick William III of Prussia and Louise of Mecklenburg. Essentially conservative, William fled to England during the revolutionary uprisings of 1848 in Prussia, and upon his return (1849) he commanded the troops that crushed the republican insurrection in Baden. When his brother King Frederick William IV was declared insane, William became (1858) regent, and on Frederick William's death William became king of Prussia. William immediately set about reorganizing and strengthening the army, and when he met the opposition of the legislature, he appointed Otto von BismarckBismarck, Otto von
, 1815–98, German statesman, known as the Iron Chancellor. Early Life and Career
Born of an old Brandenburg Junker family, he studied at Göttingen and Berlin, and after holding minor judicial and administrative offices he was elected
..... Click the link for more information. his prime minister in 1862. From then until the emperor's death, Bismarck guided the destiny of Prussia and Germany. Opposition to the king's and Bismarck's military program was suppressed, and in 1864 Prussia began its career of military conquest in the war with Denmark over Schleswig-HolsteinSchleswig-Holstein
, state (1994 pop. 2,595,000), c.6,050 sq mi (15,670 sq km), NW Germany. Kiel (the capital and chief port), Lübeck, Flensburg, and Neumünster are the major cities.
..... Click the link for more information. . This led to the Austro-Prussian WarAustro-Prussian War
or Seven Weeks War,
June 15–Aug. 23, 1866, between Prussia, allied with Italy, and Austria, seconded by Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, Hanover, Baden, and several smaller German states.
..... Click the link for more information. of 1866, from which Prussia emerged the leading German power. William I commanded in person in the Franco-Prussian WarFranco-Prussian War
or Franco-German War,
1870–71, conflict between France and Prussia that signaled the rise of German military power and imperialism. It was provoked by Otto von Bismarck (the Prussian chancellor) as part of his plan to create a unified German
..... Click the link for more information. of 1870–71, received the surrender of Napoleon III at Sedan, and was proclaimed (Jan. 18, 1871) emperor of Germany in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles (see GermanyGermany
, Ger. Deutschland, officially Federal Republic of Germany, republic (2005 est. pop. 82,431,000), 137,699 sq mi (356,733 sq km). Located in the center of Europe, it borders the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France on the west; Switzerland and Austria on
..... Click the link for more information. ). Although William often disagreed with Bismarck's policies, he ultimately was always persuaded by his chancellor. William did not favor the KulturkampfKulturkampf
[Ger.,=conflict of cultures], the conflict between the German government under Bismarck and the Roman Catholic Church. The promulgation (1870) of the dogma of the infallibility of the pope in matters of faith and morals within the church sparked the conflict; it
..... Click the link for more information. (Bismarck's struggle against the Roman Catholic Church) but gave it his tacit consent. As a symbol of reborn German unity he was popular, but his militarism and belief in his divine right to rule drew upon him the hatred of the radical elements. Two attempts on William's life (1878) enabled Bismarck to pass severe legislation against the socialists. William's reign was crucial in European history, for it saw Germany's rise to power on the continent. His son Frederick III succeeded him.
See P. Wiegler, William the First (1927, tr. 1929); T. Aronson, The Kaisers (1971).
William I,1781–1864, king of Württemberg (1816–64), son and successor of Frederick I. Before his accession he fought (1812) with the French emperor Napoleon I in Russia and later, when Frederick I had broken his alliance with France, William served with the anti-French forces (1814–15). As king, William granted a constitution in 1819, strove to protect the rights of the smaller German states against both Austria and Prussia, and promoted the ZollvereinZollverein
[Ger.,=customs union], in German history, a customs union established to eliminate tariff barriers. Friedrich List first popularized the idea of a combination to abolish the customs barriers that were inhibiting trade among the numerous states of the German
..... Click the link for more information. , the German customs union.
William the Conqueror,1027?–1087, king of England (1066–87). Earnest and resourceful, William was not only one of the greatest of English monarchs but a pivotal figure in European history as well.
Duke of Normandy
The illegitimate son of Robert I, duke of Normandy, and Arletta, daughter of a tanner, he is sometimes called William the Bastard. He succeeded to the dukedom on his father's death in 1035. William and his guardians were hard pressed to keep down recurrent rebellions during his minority, and at least once the young duke barely escaped death.
In 1047, with the aid of Henry IHenry I,
c.1008–1060, king of France (1031–60), son and successor of King Robert II. To defend his throne against his mother, his brothers Robert and Eudes, and subsequently against the count of Blois, he secured, at the cost of territorial concessions, the aid of
..... Click the link for more information. of France, he solidly established his power. William is said to have visited England in 1051 or 1052, when his cousin Edward the ConfessorEdward the Confessor,
d. 1066, king of the English (1042–66), son of Æthelred the Unready and his Norman wife, Emma. After the Danish conquest (1013–16) of England, Edward grew up at the Norman court, although his mother returned to England and married the
..... Click the link for more information. probably promised that William would succeed him as king of England. Despite a papal prohibition, William married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, count of Flanders, in 1053. The union, which greatly increased the duke's prestige, did not receive papal dispensation until 1059.
William's growing power brought him into conflict with King Henry of France, whose invading armies he defeated in 1054 and 1058. The accession (1060) of the child Philip I of France, whose guardian was William's father-in-law, improved his position, and in 1063 William conquered the county of Maine. Soon afterward HaroldHarold,
1022?–1066, king of England (1066). The son of Godwin, earl of Wessex, he belonged to the most powerful noble family of England in the reign of Edward the Confessor. Through Godwin's influence Harold was made earl of East Anglia.
..... Click the link for more information. , then earl of Wessex, was shipwrecked on the French coast and was turned over to William, who apparently extracted Harold's oath to support the duke's interests in England.
King of England
The Norman Conquest
Upon hearing that Harold had been crowned (1066) king of England, William secured the sanction of the pope, raised an army and transport fleet, sailed for England, and defeated and slew Harold at the battle of HastingsHastings,
city (1991 pop. 74,979) and district, East Sussex, SE England. A resort and residential city, Hastings is backed by cliffs and has a 3-mi (4.8-km) marine esplanade, parks, and bathing beaches. The site was occupied in Roman times.
..... Click the link for more information. (1066). Overcoming what little resistance remained in SE England, he led his army to London, received the city's submission, and was crowned king on Christmas Day.
Although William immediately began to build and garrison castles around the country, he apparently hoped to maintain continuity of rule; many of the English nobility had fallen at Hastings, but most of those who survived were permitted to keep their lands for the time being. The English, however, did not so readily accept him as their king.
A series of rebellions broke out, and William suppressed them harshly, ravaging great sections of the country. Titles to the lands of the now decimated native nobility were called in and redistributed on a strictly feudal basis (see feudalismfeudalism
, form of political and social organization typical of Western Europe from the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire to the rise of the absolute monarchies. The term feudalism is derived from the Latin feodum,
..... Click the link for more information. ), to the king's Norman followers. By 1072 the adherents of Edgar AthelingEdgar Atheling
[O.E. ætheling,=son of the king], 1060?–1125?, English prince, grandson of Edmund Ironside. After the death of King Harold at the battle of Hastings in 1066, Edgar was chosen king, but he submitted to William I in the same year.
..... Click the link for more information. and their Scottish and Danish allies had been defeated and the military part of the Norman ConquestNorman Conquest,
period in English history following the defeat (1066) of King Harold of England by William, duke of Normandy, who became William I of England. The conquest was formerly thought to have brought about broad changes in all phases of English life.
..... Click the link for more information. virtually completed. In the only major rebellion that came thereafter (1075), the chief rebels were Normans.
William undertook church reform, appointed LanfrancLanfranc
, d. 1089, Italian churchman and theologian, archbishop of Canterbury (1070–89), b. Pavia. At first educated in civil law, he turned to theology and became a pupil of Berengar of Tours. After teaching in Avranches, Normandy, he went to Bec (c.
..... Click the link for more information. archbishop of Canterbury, substituted foreign prelates for many of the English bishops, took command over the administration of church affairs, and established (1076) separate ecclesiastical courts. In 1085–86 at his orders a survey of England was taken, the results of which were embodied in the Domesday BookDomesday Book
, record of a general census of England made (1085–86) by order of William I (William the Conqueror). The survey ascertained the economic resources of most of the country for purposes of more accurate taxation.
..... Click the link for more information. . By the Oath of Salisbury in 1086, William established the important precedent that loyalty to the king is superior to loyalty to any subordinate feudal lord of the kingdom. William fought with his factious son Robert IIRobert II
(Robert Curthose), c.1054–1134, duke of Normandy (1087–1106); eldest son of King William I of England. Aided by King Philip I of France, he rebelled (1077) against his father. Father and son became reconciled, but Robert was later exiled.
..... Click the link for more information. , duke of Normandy, in 1079 and quarreled intermittently with France from 1080 until his death. He invaded the French Vexin in 1087, was fatally injured in a riding accident, and died at Rouen, directing that his son Robert should succeed him in Normandy and his son William (William II) in England.
See biographies by D. C. Douglas (1964), F. M. Stenton (rev. ed. 1967), and D. Walker (1968); F. M. Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond (1897, repr. 1966); F. Barlow, William I and the Norman Conquest (1965); F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (3d ed. 1971); R. May, William and Conquerer and the Normans (1985).
William I,1772–1843, first king of the Netherlands and grand duke of Luxembourg (1815–40), son of Prince William V of Orange, last stadtholder of the Netherlands. He commanded (1793–95) the Dutch army in the French Revolutionary Wars, and after the French occupation of the Netherlands he entered the Prussian and later the Austrian service. He returned to the Netherlands in 1813, and the Congress of Vienna gave him (1815) the title king of the Netherlands. His kingdom comprised present BelgiumBelgium
, Du. België, Fr. La Belgique, officially Kingdom of Belgium, constitutional kingdom (2005 est. pop. 10,364,000), 11,781 sq mi (30,513 sq km), NW Europe.
..... Click the link for more information. as well as the Netherlands, and he was awarded the grand duchy of LuxembourgLuxembourg
, officially Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, grand duchy (2005 est. pop. 469,000), 998 sq mi (2,586 sq km), W Europe. Roughly triangular, it borders on Belgium in the west and north, Germany in the east, and France in the south.
..... Click the link for more information. in compensation for his family holdings in Germany, which he ceded to Prussia. William soon alienated his Belgian subjects by attempting to make Dutch the official language, by granting disproportionate influence to the northern provinces, and by encroaching on the freedom of the Roman Catholic Church. Political unrest in Belgium led to the revolution of 1830, which he stubbornly sought to suppress despite the intervention of England and France (see London ConferenceLondon Conference,
several international conferences held at London, England, in the 19th and 20th cent. The following list includes only the most important of these meetings.
..... Click the link for more information. ). Belgium won its independence, but final recognition by William came only in 1839. When his Dutch subjects forced him to liberalize the constitution in 1840, he abdicated in favor of his son William II. Through his rule as an enlightened despot, William fostered the development of Dutch agriculture, commerce, and industry.
William I,prince of Orange: see William the SilentWilliam the Silent
or William of Orange
(William I, prince of Orange), 1533–84, Dutch statesman, principal founder of Dutch independence. Early Life
..... Click the link for more information. .