How many descendants did Wilhelm IV.


Wilhelm IV., King of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover, born on August 21, 1765 in Buckingham Palace in London, † in Windsor Castle on June 20, 1837, was the third child and third son from the large marriage of King George III . and Princess Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, an aunt of Queen Luise of Prussia. Since the second of his two older brothers, Friedrich Duke of York, died childless on January 25, 1827 during the reign of the eldest, King George IV June 18th, 1830, without leaving any descent capable of succumbing to the throne, died in the government over England and Hanover, the last of the five rulers on which the personal union between England and Hanover, which had existed since 1714, was based. He ruled for almost exactly seven years. From his life before the accession to the throne, only the most general outlines belong in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Prince William Henry, as he was named after his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, received a military education; but while his brothers were being trained for service in the army, he was appointed to the navy. In 1779 he entered as a midshipman on the flagship of Admiral Digby, and in the war between England and France and Spain he soon had the opportunity to take part in glorious battles. For example, on January 16, 1780, at the battle near Cap St. Vincent, where Rodney defeated the Spanish fleet under Don Juan de Langara. Prince Wilhelm was sent home to present the king with the Spanish admiral's flag. In 1782 he sailed to Jamaica under Sir S. Hood and became acquainted with Nelson, with whom he was in Havana for the next year. Returning to England in June 1783, he made a trip to the Continent with his brother York, where he was introduced to Frederick the Great in Berlin. In 1785 he became a lieutenant and in 1786 a captain, had his station in the West Indies and commanded the frigate Pegasus. No matter how much praise is made for his affable nature, his open and honest seaman qualities, he seems to have lacked one soldier virtue: discipline. In 1787, instead of going to Jamaica, he returned home, as punishment for his insubordination, had to remain in Plymouth, where his noble brothers, Wales and York, both without regard to the king, their father's authority, visited him, and then returned to the West Indies. That was his last trip on active duty. Even if he was subsequently given the post of Contreadmiral when the war with Spain broke out again, he was no longer entrusted with a command. Appointed Duke of Clarence and Earl of Munster in 1789, he joined the House of Lords of the opposition that his brothers made to their father's government. Like his brothers, he eagerly took part in the discussion without being praised for anything more than liveliness in his speeches. He | advocated the extravagances of his eldest brother, whose debt burden repeatedly preoccupied Parliament, fought slave emancipation with his experience in the West Indies and called its advocates fanatics or hypocrites, and, like his brother Cumberland, spoke against the Bill, which the marriage of the wanted to forbid divorced people with his accomplices because of adultery. In 1791 the prince is said to be with a Miss v. Linsingen, which he did in the house of her father, Colonel v. Linsingen had got to know in Hanover, had entered into a secret marriage in Pyrmont, which upon objection from London would be dissolved again by mutual agreement. The writing, which first brought about this process in 1880, contains so much that is novel-like and in some of its statements is in conflict with historical facts that its results, which are reported in Vol. XVIII, 723 of the ADB, cannot be taken as reliable without further ado, even if they are merely attacked in a book of incredible ignorance in continental matters such as Fitzgerald, The life and times of William IV. The prince's youth suffered no shortage of love affairs. About 1790 he entered into a permanent relationship with a charming Irish actress, Dora Jordan, which lasted nearly twenty years. This resulted in five sons and five daughters who, through office or marriage, attained outstanding positions in the public service and in the English aristocracy, while the mother of Fitzclarence died in poverty after years in France, as it is said, not through her own fault. The Duke retained his full paternal love for the children and was not hindered in it when he entered into a befitting marriage in 1818. Like his brothers Kent and Cambridge, he only married when the death of Princess Charlotte († Nov. 6, 1817), the only child of the Prince Regent, whose younger siblings were more likely to succeed him. The Duke's wife was Princess Adelheid von Sachsen-Meiningen, the older sister of Duke Bernhard Erich Freund, who had ruled since 1821 and resigned in September 1866. The Duchess, 26 years old, barely half the age of the Duke, survived him by twelve years († on December 2, 1849). The marriage was a very happy one. Whenever the newspapers did not like the king's policies, the English arrogance loved the foreigner to accuse the German princess of interfering in political affairs. After the Duke of York's death, Parliament granted the heir to the throne an endowment of £ 30,000 a year in income. At the same time, the Duke, who until then had lived far from the public in his country estate in Bushy Park near London, returned to the political world. He was persuaded to join the Ministry, formed by Canning in the spring of 1827, as First Lord of the Admiralty with the rank of Lord High Admiral. The fact that he influenced the behavior of the English admiral in the battle of Navarin (October 20, 1827) is an unfounded legend. He did not stay in office long. Here, too, he was overthrown by the inability to submit. The Duke of Wellington, who after Canning's death had set up a new ministry with Sir Robert Peel, had to remove the Duke of Clarence from his post in August 1828, because, instead of as his patent prescribed, he was with the members of his college understand, issued orders on their own authority, and clashed over them with Sir George Cockburn. In the obituary he held for the Duke in the House of Lords in 1837, Wellington boasted that he had never paid him for having removed him from his favorite post of Grand Admiral, which was hardly dispensable because of his income. The last more important act of parliamentary activity recorded by Clarence is that, in the spring of 1829, he helped to get the government's proposals aimed at the emancipation of Catholics through in the House of Lords, which had hitherto steadfastly opposed the measure. The next summer the duke became king, lively welcomed by public opinion which his predecessor had so thoroughly forfeited through life and government. Though the new king had occasionally referred to himself as an old Whig, he retained his brother Wellington-Peel's ministry, albeit alienating the Tones through Catholic emancipation and refusal to enter into parliamentary reform that Whigs had not won. But when the new elections in August 1830, not least under the influence of the July Revolution, resulted in a victory for the opposition and a motion for a reorganization of the king's civil list received a majority, the previous cabinet resigned. The Kings summoned Lord Gray, head of the Whigs, and thus brought back to the helm of the state the party that had been excluded for more than a generation. At the same time he declared himself in agreement with the main point of their program, the reform of the House of Commons from government channels. Gray earned the king's thanks through an expedient and liberal order of the civil list. The king left the hereditary crown treasures to the state for his lifetime, and the civil list, relieved of all state expenditures which it had hitherto had to meet, was increased to £ 510,000 sterl. fixed. The Tones, who had withdrawn from Parliament as advocates of royal independence, and their reproach that the King would be degraded to a stipendiary, to an insulated king, by the proposal of the House of Commons, were effectively countered. There were great difficulties in the way of implementing parliamentary reform; but the king showed himself ready to take the necessary measures for their removal. In the summer of 1831 he dissolved the House of Commons, which had opposed the government's reform proposal with an albeit small majority; When the House of Lords rejected it in the autumn after the bill had been approved by the House of Commons, did not allow itself to be averted from reform, and authorized its ministers to introduce the bill for the third time. But when the government was defeated again in the decisive vote in the House of Lords, the king shied away from using the last resort, the increase in peerage, although he had theoretically agreed to it weeks beforehand. It is a sign of consistency when, after Grey's resignation, the king only asked the leaders of the Toires to take over the ministry on condition that the plan of reforming the House of Commons be retained, and when Wellington failed to set up a new ministry, Gray newly charged with the management of the business. The method of the pair push, to which the king had given his consent, remained unused this time too, since he preferred to have it through his private secretary, we would say Cabinet Council, the generally respected Colonel Herbert Taylor, who was once already under George III. had acted in the same capacity to summon the Lords who were personally close to the court to give up their resistance and as a result almost a hundred peers stayed away from the decisive vote in the House of Lords. Thus, on June 7, 1832, the Reform Bill was able to receive the sanction, but significantly not by the king himself, who had been too deeply injured by the whole course of the two-year negotiation, the excited popular movement that had gone alongside, but by a commission of six Members of the secret council whom he had authorized. With this the most important result of the reign of William IV had been achieved, and it is no small glory when it has been said of the Reform Bill that never in history has a political reform been undertaken and carried out by a ruling class with such a degree of prudence like this (Gneist). Even after the reform bill has been implemented, the government has still had great successes, such as the abolition of slavery and the urban order. The greatest difficulties were presented by Irish conditions, the elimination of emergencies, and the order of ecclesiastical affairs. The Gray Ministry worked between two fires, the Tories and the Radicals. The king, who had long supported him, became concerned about the Protestant Church in Ireland. If there was even a lack of agreement among the members of the Cabinet, which was only imperfectly cured by the reconstruction of the Whig Ministry by Lord Melbourne after Grey's resignation, the King's complete dissatisfaction with the previous councilors emerged when he, in the autumn of 1834, without preceding a failure of the Cabinet in Parliament, thanking Melbourne for its services, and reassigning the Tories to the helm. It was the king's own work, but this experiment by a conservative cabinet had no more lasting success than an earlier attempt. In April 1835, Peel resigned because he was unable to win a majority in the newly elected House of Commons for his proposal on matters relating to the Irish Church. Lord Melbourne, Palmerston returned. As little as the king concealed his affection for Wellington and his dislike of the liberals, the weak Whigcabinet, fought by a powerful Tory opposition rallied around Peel, Wellington and Lord Lyndhurst, held its own until the end of King William's reign and passed on to the successor.

Regarding continental affairs, the king first and immediately after his accession to the throne claimed the order of the government in Braunschweig, where Duke Karl had driven the population to an uprising through a desperate mistreatment, which ended with the Duke's flight. Initially, the king welcomed the expelled nephew in England, but when he recognized the evil nature of the degenerate prince, he promised his protection to his younger brother Wilhelm, who took over the government in Braunschweig, and no matter how unwilling to accommodate revolutionary movements , in the understanding of inevitable necessity, understood themselves to the definitive settlement that was made on the advice of Prussia in this extremely difficult constitutional matter: to the agnatic disposition that was handed over to the Federal Assembly on March 10, 1831, the absolute incapacity of Duke Karl established and from it the Drew consequent. A family statute of 1832 was added to this act, in order to counter the difficulties that could arise in the future from a proper marriage of the excluded prince, which the legal effectiveness of marriages of princes of the Braunschweig-Lüneburg general house from the legal consent of the governing body Lord of the line made dependent in marriage. If the affairs of Brunswick had occupied the king only as agnate, as chief of the younger Guelph line, the conditions of his home country demanded his entire activity as sovereign. As short as K. Wilhelm's government lasted, it was no less important and eventful for his Land Hanover than it was for England. The effects of the July Revolution also made themselves felt here. Far from being content with police measures and the military repression of the insurrectionary movement, which had manifested itself in some places, the government investigated the deeper reasons which gave rise to the widespread discontent in the country. It was not limited to the ruled, even among civil servants and employees, as they liked to say, there was decided displeasure over the exclusive aristocracy that ruled the country, as well as over the dependence on the almighty minister in London, the Count Münster, which formed a kind of higher authority over the ministers in Hanover. Even the Duke of Cambridge, the king's youngest brother, who had served as governor-general in Hanover since 1816, was constrained and restrained by this order of relations between the country and his rule. The damage was so evident that the king, when delegations from Hanover informed him about the situation at the beginning of 1831, immediately decided to change it. Count Munster was retired, and the German chancellery in London, at whose head he had been, was closed. In order to give the government in Hanover more unity and strength and to be able to proceed in important and especially in urgent cases without waiting for the special royal orders, the Duke of Cambridge received the position of viceroy and chairman of the state ministry, minister to the king's person was L. v. Ompteda, Minister of State and Cabinet in Hanover since 1823. The king willingly lent his support to the reforms proposed by the ministry, which was made more independent as a result of this reorganization. With his approval, the viceroy, at the opening of the meeting of estates, described it as the king's firm will that when appointing state offices it was not the reputation of birth that should decide, but only personal efficiency and an innocent character: a declaration that was particularly hated by the successor of the government, so that it was particularly important to find the author (see ADB XXIX, 184). The most important of the proposals made by the ministry was the drafting of a constitutional state law and the establishment of a uniform financial administration in place of the duplication of the financial system, the separation of the domain and state coffers, which is still recorded here. K. Wilhelm also agreed to this suggestion, which corresponded to a motion by the estates, only with the support that the “declaration of rights and imunities”, as he called it, should be understood as an act of his free will, not as forced upon him. At this stage he quickly resolved to deal with the constitutional matter. As early as April 29th, in a confidential reply to his brother Cambridge, and in an official communication to the Ministry on May 10th, he approved the application of the estate, which was submitted to him in a report of April 22nd. In the summer of 1831 a draft constitution was drawn up in the bosom of the State Ministry with the assistance of Dahlmann.October was brought to London by the Cabinet Council Falcke (see A. D. B. VI, 545) and was approved without objection at the end of the month on the basis of the lectures he gave to the King. But when the result of the concluded negotiations on the draft, which first a commission of seven royal and fourteen estates and then the plenum of both chambers of the Estates assembly had discussed, was presented to the king in March 1833, it was not until the autumn that his Sanction granted. The changes which the original draft had undergone in the meantime are not significant enough to explain this postponement, since they were also made with the approval of the Ministry. The | thought of interference from outside cannot be dismissed. It is said that Metternich had his envoy raise counter-ideas, which might find support in the Frankfurt assassination attempt in the spring of 1833 and in the worries that the king had caused in his own country by the reform bill. But the aristocratic opposition in Hanover under the leadership of Baron Georg v. Schele (see A. D. B. XXX, 752) was not lacking in influence, especially since she had an influential advocate in the king's circle in the Duke of Cumberland. The king had negotiated with him, the prospective successor in Hanover, in the preparatory stages of the constitution, and found no resistance from him; only on a few minor points had he raised concerns. But his opposition grew noticeably as the negotiation neared its conclusion; and it is strange to perceive that the king offered him a small, if only deceptive, handle for his later behavior by unilaterally allowing a number of small, factually insignificant, changes to be made to the draft constitution established between the State Ministry and the Diet before he sanctioned him on September 26, 1833 at Windsor Castle under the contrasignature of Ompteda. The moderate constitution, guaranteeing the power of the government and the freedom of the subjects, would provide the basis for a prosperous political development in the country, perhaps also a valuable example, and lasting fame for the last of the English kings who was called to rule over Hanover a founder of the constitutional order in his home country, if he had at the same time known how to look after the future. This would have required the constitution to be expanded through organizational laws and safeguards against the threat that threatened it. There is a serious lack of it on both sides. The king knew how his brother Cumberland felt about the basic law of the state. In an official declaration of October 20, 1833, which we only got to know in 1889 through the fourth part of Treitschke's German History, he had clearly stated that he was not yet bound by the new law. K. Wilhelm, who had experienced his brother's stubbornness often enough in political life, could not promise the Ministry any more favorable success from further negotiations with him, but thought in his carelessness that the Duke's behavior would be more disadvantageous for himself than for him Land. If this is alluding to the burden of debt that weighed on the Duke, the whole combination was based on the deceptive idea that the country and its constitution would be stronger than the Duke and his allies inside and outside Hanover. A connoisseur of its law and its history has praised the time that the country lived under the constitutional law as the four blessed years, since a uniform administration based on its principles of publicity, freedom and independence established the happiest state of the country (Stüve). Even if the expansion of the constitution left many wishes unsatisfied, the king endeavored to bring an important law under one roof, in which the princely house was primarily involved, but also the country. At the same time as the constitution of the state, the elaboration of a house law was taken in hand, partly for the sake of the internal context, partly with consideration of the increasingly near prospect of the separation of Hanover from England. Dahlmann, who was commissioned to design in the summer of 1832, presented his work the following January, which was carefully examined by the king, received his approval in September 1833, but was not published until three years later, on November 19, 1836, because it had previously been published It had to be submitted to the Diet because of its part regulating the appanages, and to the Duke of Brunswick because of its provisions concerning the General House, and was given individual changes in one place as well as in the other. In the last few years of his reign the king was no longer the happy, contented gentleman, the king sailor, the seafaring king, who enjoyed his royalty and his popularity, as German observers initially reported of him. The political struggles had sobered him and taught him the rise and fall of popular favor. Becoming more indifferent, he let things go as God pleased. Wherever he was prone to displeasure, Queen Adelheid intervened to mitigate it. By virtue of her great influence she had ensured that there was at least an outwardly good understanding between him and his brother Cumberland, just as she had reconciled Cumberland and his second youngest brother, the Duke of Sussex. But as the King was allowed to say of himself in a memorandum that, during the entire duration of the Whig Ministry, he had refrained from any attempt to enter into direct or indirect contact with the opponents which might have given his servants the slightest cause of jealousy or suspicion the Prussian ambassador, Heinrich v. Bülow, according to how he had always found a really sympathetic and sure friend in the king, not in the royal but in the purely bourgeois sense. From the beginning of 1837 King Wilhelm was suffering. Contrary to his custom, he had not opened parliament himself. After reliving the anniversary of Waterloo, as he wished, he died on June 20th. We have lost the best king that we could only wish for, wrote Dahlmann on July 1st, and his pamphlet, written a few months later, began with the words: when the good King Wilhelm had died. Through the speeches which the representatives of the government and the leaders of the parties in parliament dedicated to the deceased on June 22nd, the mourning of the death of a prince who had just, benevolently, selflessly served his state and people is drawn. Since the two daughters of the royal couple had already died in childhood and the next son, K. George III, the Duke of Kent, had not survived his father, the Duke of Kent's daughter, Princess Victoria, who had just come of age, followed in England ; in Hanover, where women were inherently capable of success, but could only follow after the male line had died out, the next right younger brother, Duke Ernst August von Cumberland. In Hanover, the news of the change of government in the preparations for the centenary celebration of the University of Göttingen met. The preparations for the festival included the construction of an auditorium, begun in 1835, to which K. Wilhelm £ 3,000 sterl. had given, and the erection of a statue of the king, which the city of Göttingen by the sculptor E. v. Bandel in Hanover and had it set up on the square in front of the new building, the Wilhelmsplatze named after the king. Not very successful as a work of art, it expresses the people's gratitude for the government of a king who wanted to bring his country the blessing of constitutional order. When the statue was handed over to the new king, Ernst August, who was watching from the windows of the auditorium, on September 17, 1837, during the university jubilee, he is said to have unwillingly turned away when the cover fell. The statue had on the pedestal the inscription written by Otfried Müller: Pater patriae. "The Patriot King" called him Lord Gray. It is customary to add a regret for his lack of political gifts to the praise of his straightness and goodwill. Even if he lacked the highest virtues of rulership, at the right time he recognized the necessity - a glory which he does not share with many princes - to lay the reforming hand on the existing political institutions. It has proven this in England and Hanover, and here and there it has succeeded in introducing moderate reforms. What he lacked was the confident perseverance with what was once recognized as right and appropriate. The radical and demagogic elements which the two-year struggle for the Reform Bill had brought to the surface made him concerned that the old and sacred institutions of the country had not been endangered, as he said in a memorandum written by good political education and deliberation and noble disposition, no matter how little that your publisher, Ch. F. v. Stockmar, wants word that is not favorable to the king, just as little as the king was to the Coburgs. The concern that he had gone too far in his reform prompted him for the attempt of 1834, which the English almost counted as a political crime. They triumphantly record it as the last attempt by an English king to rule against the majority of Parliament. And yet K. Wilhelm was guided by a thought that had the future for itself: the renunciation of the old party one-sidedness and the need to merge the rigid opposites for the salvation of the fatherland. A program carried out by none other than the leader of that Cabinet of 1834, Sir Robert Peel, once appointed by K. Wilhelm IV.

Recommended citation style

Frensdorff, Ferdinand, "Wilhelm IV." in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 43 (1898), pp. 13-20 [online version]; URL: