Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss

WILLIAM I- UNION OF SOUTHERN & NORTHERN STATES OF THE NETHERLANDS

MICHAUT, Auguste Francois: Netherlands, 1815, Bronze, 72 mm
Obv: Bust of William I    WILH: NASS: BELG: REX: LUXEMB: M: DUX:
Rev: Belgium and the Netherlands shaking hands    PARIBUS SE LEGIBUS AMBAE INVICTAE GENTES AETERNA IN FOEDERA MITTUNT (Both Victorious Peoples Committed Themselves by Equal Laws in Everlasting Federation).
Exergue:
POSTRID. ID. MART. CI]I]CCCXV.
Signed: MICHAUT
Ref: Dirks 38; Van Heeckeren II-1;  Schulman 990;  Weiss BW175

William I Frederick (William of Nassau) (1772-1843), born Willem Frederik Prins van Oranje-Nassau was  a Prince of Orange,Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the first king of the Netherlands.  The son of William V, he was a descendant of the House of Orange, the Royal dynasty of the Netherlands.  Before he was proclaimed king, William I  was known as Prince William VI of Orange.

Orange was a principality in southern France, which was inherited by William I (The Silent) in 1544. He and his son, Maurice of Nassau, led the successful Revolt of the Netherlands against Spain in the late 16th century. (It  may be noted that another of the family,  William III (of Orange), became king of England in 1689 and that the son of William I Frederick (the future William II) fought as Dutch commander at the Battle of Waterloo.)

In 1791, the then William VI or Orange married (Frederica Louisa) Wilhelmina. She was the daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia. When Wilhelmina died in 1837, William was remarried to Countess Henriette d'Oultremont de Wegimont  and died two years later.

William was hereditary stadtholder (similar to a crown prince) when the Republic of the Seven United Provinces was invaded by the French Revolutionary armies. He fled with his father to England. Unlike his father, William was a strong personality and he tried to regain the Republic. In 1799 he landed in the current North Holland. After some battles he was forced to leave the country.  Napoleon gave him some small German principalities as indemnities for the lost territories. These principalities were confiscated when Napoleon invaded Germany (1806).
After Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig in 1813, French troops retreated to France. A provisional government was formed under the lead of some former patriots and called William to the liberated country.  Later that year William landed at Scheveningen beach and the provisional government offered him the title of King.  William initially refused and declared that he only wanted the throne if he was sovereign prince (a title somewhere between King and stadtholder) and that the rights of the people were guaranteed by "a wise constitution". The constitution offered William extensive (almost absolute) powers. Ministers were only responsible to him and to nobody else. He was inaugurated as sovereign prince in the New Church in Amsterdam. In 1814 he gained sovereignty over the whole of the Low Countries.

In 1815 William of Nassau, as part of the Treaty of Vienna, proclaimed himself King William I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, thereby also becoming king of the Low Countries and Belgium, and Grand Duke of Luxemburg. This united the Southern and Northern states of the Netherlands, the event commemorated by this medal.

LINK to  William I of the Netherlands (From Wikipedia)

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