William I, Count of Holland

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William I of Holland
Count of Holland
Guillaume Ier de Hollande.png
William I as imagined in the 16th century
Reign 1203 – 4 February 1222
Predecessor Ada
Successor Floris IV
Born ca. 1167
The Hague
Died (1222-02-04)February 4, 1222
Burial Rijnsburg
Father Floris III
Mother Ada of Huntingdon

William I (c. 1167 – 4 February 1222), Count of Holland from 1203 to 1222. He was the younger son of Floris III and Ada of Huntingdon.


Holland, penny struck by William I as Count of Holland between 1213-1222.

William was born in The Hague, but raised in Scotland. He started a revolt against his brother, Dirk VII and became count in Friesland after a reconciliation. Friesland was considered as a part of Holland by the Counts of Holland. His niece, Ada, Countess of Holland inherited Holland in 1203, but William couldn't accept this. After a war of succession, known as the Loon War (1203–1206), William won the county. Ada and her husband, Louis II, were supported by the bishop of Liège and bishop of Utrecht, and the count of Flanders. William was supported by the duke of Brabant and by the majority of the Hollanders.

Emperor Otto IV acknowledged him as count of Holland in 1203, because he was a supporter of the Welfs. He and many others changed allegiance to emperor Frederick II after the battle of Bouvines in 1214. He took part in a French expedition against king John of England. The pope excommunicated him for this.

Possibly because of this, William then became a fervent crusader and by this his excommunication was lifted. He campaigned in Prussia and joined in the conquest of Alcácer do Sal. In Europe, he came to be called William the Crazy for his chivalric and reckless behaviour in battle. William conquered the city of Damietta during the Fifth Crusade.

Evolution of the county[edit]

Coats of Arms of the Counts of Holland.

There were great changes in the landscape of Holland in the end of the 12th and during the 13th century. Many colonists bought land to turn the swamps into polders. Most of the swamps had been sold, and irrigation had started during the reign of William. Huge infrastructural works were done; the island called Grote Waard was enclosed with dikes all around and a dam was built at Spaarndam. New governmental bodies were created, the so-called water boards, which were charged with the task of protecting the polders against ever-present threat of flooding. Count William granted city rights to Geertruidenberg in 1213, to Dordrecht in 1217, to Middelburg in 1220 and perhaps also to Leiden. In this way he gave an impulse to trade.


Count William was married twice. First, he was married in 1197 at Stavoren to Adelaide of Guelders, daughter of Otto I, Count of Guelders and Richarde of Bavaria. They had the following children:

  1. Floris IV, Count of Holland (24 June 1210 The Hague–19 July 1234, Corbie, France).
  2. Otto (d. 1249), Regent of Holland in 1238–1239, Bishop of Utrecht.
  3. William (d. 1238), Regent of Holland in 1234–1238.
  4. Richardis (d. 1262).
  5. Ada (d. 1258), Abbess at Rijnsburg 1239.

Adelaide died on 12 February 1218 while William was away on crusade. In 1220 Count William remarried with Marie of Brabant, second wife of Emperor Otto IV, daughter of Henry I, Duke of Brabant and Maud of Boulogne and Alsace, while soon after his death in 1222 his son Floris married Mathilde of Brabant, her ten year younger sister.


Dirk V, Count of Holland
Floris II, Count of Holland
Dirk VI, Count of Holland
Theodoric II, Duke of Lorraine
Gertrude (Petronella) of Lorraine
Hedwig of Formbach
Floris III, Count of Holland
Hermann of Salm, King of Germany
Otto I, Count of Salm, Rheineck and Bentheim
Sophia of Formbach
Sophia of Rheineck
Henry, Margrave of Frisia
Gertrud of Northeim
Gertrude of Brunswick
William I, Count of Holland
Malcolm III, King of Scotland
David I, King of Scotland
Margaret of England
Henry of Scotland, Earl of Huntingdon
Waltheof II, Earl of Northumbria
Maud of Northumbria, Countess of Huntingdon
Judith of Lens
Ada of Huntingdon
William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey
William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey
Ada de Warenne
Hugh of France, Count of Vermandois
Elizabeth of Vermandois
Adela of Vermandois


Preceded by
Count of Holland
Succeeded by
Floris IV