William II of Holland
|Count of Holland|
Effigy of William II on his seal.
|King of the Romans|
|Reign||3 October 1247 – 28 January 1256|
|Coronation||1 November 1248, Aachen|
|Predecessor||Conrad IV of Germany|
|Successor||Richard of Cornwall|
|Died||28 January 1256(aged 28)|
|Spouse||Elisabeth of Brunswick-Lüneburg|
|Issue||Floris V, Count of Holland|
|Father||Floris IV, Count of Holland|
|Mother||Matilda of Brabant|
William II (February 1227 – 28 January 1256) was a Count of Holland and Zeeland from 1234 until his death. He was crowned German anti-king in 1248 and ruled as sole King of the Romans from 1254 onwards.
He was the eldest son and heir of Count Floris IV of Holland and his wife Matilda of Brabant. When his father was killed at a tournament at Corbie, William was only seven years old. His uncles, William and Otto (Bishop of Utrecht), were his guardians until 1239.
With the help of Duke Henry II of Brabant and the Cologne archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden, he was elected King of the Romans after the Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick II was excommunicated by Pope Innocent IV. He succeeded the Thuringian landgrave Henry Raspe who had died within a year after his election as anti-king in 1246.
The next year, William decided to extend his father's hunting residence to a palace which met his new status. This would later be called the Binnenhof (Inner Court) and was the beginning of the city of The Hague. Meanwhile, after a siege of five months, William besieged Aachen for six months before capturing it from Frederick's followers. Only then could he be crowned as king by Archbishop Konrad of Cologne. He gained a certain amount of theoretical support from some of the German princes after his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of the Welf duke Otto of Brunswick-Lüneburg, in 1252; but, although "William lacked neither courage nor chivalrous qualities... his power never extended beyond the Rhineland."
In his home county, William fought with Countess Margaret II of Flanders for control of Zeeland. He made himself (being king of Germany) count of Zeeland. In July 1253, he defeated the Flemish army at Westkapelle (in modern-day Belgium) and a year later a cease-fire followed. His anti-Flemish policy worsened his relationship with France.
According to the Annales Wormatienses, on 10 November 1255 William "eliminated the rights of citizens who are called Pfahlbürger so that among other restrictions, none of the cities were permitted to have them or receive them"; a later scribe added a gloss to clarifty that the Pfahlburgers "were citizens who were not resident in the city".
Marriage and issue
In battle near Hoogwoud on 28 January 1256, William tried to traverse a frozen lake by himself, because he was lost, but his horse fell through the ice. In this vulnerable position, William was killed by the Frisians, who secretly buried him under the floor of a house. His body was recovered 26 years later by his son Floris V, who took terrible vengeance on the West-Frisians. William was then buried in Middelburg. Contemporary sources, including the chronicle of Melis Stoke, portray William as an Arthurian hero. A golden statue of William can be found on the Binnenhof in The Hague, the inner court of the parliamentary complex of the Netherlands.
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|Ancestors of William II of Holland|
- M. A. Pollock, Scotland, England and France After the Loss of Normandy, 1204-1296, (The Boydell Press, 2015), xv.
- Germany and Flanders: Welfs, Hohenstaufen and Habsburgs, Michael Toch, The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 5, C.1198-c.1300, ed. David Abulafia, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 391.
- Kantorowicz, Ernst, Frederick II, p. 638.
- David S. Bachrach, ed. (2016), The Histories of a Medieval German City, Worms c. 1000–c. 1300: Translation and Commentary, Routledge, p. 145.
- Graaf, Ronald P. de (2004). Oorlog om Holland, 1000-1375. Verloren. pp. 231ff. ISBN 9789065508072.
- Tom Verschaffel, ed. (2000). Koningsmoorden. Leuven UP. pp. 150ff. ISBN 9789058670731.
William II of HollandBorn: February 1228 Died: 28 January 1256
| Count of Holland
19 July 1234 – 28 January 1256
| King of Germany
3 October 1247 – 28 January 1256
(anti-king to Conrad IV until 21 May 1254)
Richard of Cornwall and
Alfonso of Castile