Stadtholder Willem IV

1711-1751 1711 (1747)-1751

Willem was born seven weeks after the death of his father Johan Willem Friso (John William Friso), and succeeded him as stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen, and later also of Drenthe and Guelders (now Gelderland). His mother Maria Louise acted as regent until Willem turned twenty. The other provinces decided not to appoint a new stadtholder after the death of Willem III. This became known as the ‘second stadtholderless period’ (1702-1747).

Willem IV married Anne of Hanover, daughter of the British king George II. The marriage greatly enhanced Willem IV’s status. Although theirs was a political marriage, Willem and Anna loved each other very much, as evidenced by the many surviving love letters between them.

In 1747 French troops invaded the Southern Netherlands. Since a united country is always stronger, the states decided to appoint Willem IV captain-general and stadtholder of all states. That same year it was decided that the office of stadtholder should become hereditary within the House of Orange. This meant that the stadtholder would always be a member of the Orange family.