William I

   The first king of the Netherlands and grand duke of Luxembourg (1815-1840), William I was the son of Prince William V of Orange, the last stadtholder of the Netherlands. He commanded the Dutch army during the French Revolutionary Wars (1793-1795) and then entered, first, Russian and, then, Austrian service. The Congress of Vienna awarded him the title king of the Netherlands (1815), which included Belgium. He was crowned in Brussels, dual capital of the kingdom, on 21 September 1815.
   William ordered construction of the Palais Royal and he was a staunch proponent of industrial development in Belgium. He was instrumental in securing the building of the Brussels-Charleroi Canal. Nevertheless, William alienated his Belgian subjects with his aristocratic, autocratic ruling style, which compounded unpopular policies in linguistic, educational, and civil rights matters. He entered a tension-filled Brussels in early August 1830, just prior to the outbreak of the Belgian Revolution. William refused to recognize the independence of Belgium until 1839. He abdicated in favor of his son William I n 1840.

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