HISTORY. William of Orange (1533–84), as the German count of Nassau, inherited vast possessions in the Netherlands and the Princedom of Orange in Fiance. He was the initiator of the struggle for independence from Spain (1568–1648); in the Republic of the United Netherlands he and his successors became the ’first servants of the Republic’ with the title of’Stadhouder’ (governor). In 1689 William III acceded to the throne of England, becoming joint sovereign with Mary II. his wife. William III died in 1702 without issue, and after a stadhouderless period a member of the Frisian branch of Orange-Nassau was nominated hereditary stadhouder in 1747; but his successor, Willem V, had to take refuge in England, in 1795, at the invasion of the French Army. In Nov. 1813 the United Provinces were freed from French domination.
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