Johan Willem Friso fürst of Nassau-Dietz, prince of Orange

Stadholder Johan Willem Friso
Johan Willem Friso
Painting of Johan Willem Friso
Attr. to Bernardus Accama (1696-1757)
Born:4 Aug. 1687
Stadholder Friesland:
Died:14 July 1711

1 The Frisian Stadtholders

1.1 The junior branch of Stadtholders

Just like William the silent is the 'vader des vaderlands' (father of the fatherland) for the Dutch, his nephew Willem Lodewijk of Nassau Dietz gained the name 'Us Heit' (our father in Frisian) in Friesland. Up till the death of William III there were therefore two lines of Nassau Stadholders in the United Provinces. One was formed by the rich princes of Orange who, when Stadholder, were also Captain General and Admiral General of the Union. The others were the Stadholders of Frisia (and sometimes Groningen and Drenthe), who fought for the United Provinces but never got the supreme command of the Union forces.

1.2 His family

Stadtholder Hendrik / Henry Casimir II (1657-1697) was stadtholder of Friesland. He was often in fierce conflict with William III, but they were reconciled in 1685. Henry became the third field marshal in the Dutch army in 1689. He had married Henriëtta Amalia of Anhalt-Dessau, and from this marriage Johan Willem Friso was born in 1687.

1.3 Early education

William III became godfather to Johan Willem Friso. The States General did the same, and gave him an annuity of 4,000 guilders a year. The States of Friesland did not want to stay behind, and gave 5,000 guilders a year. Johan was rather weak as a child. He grew up in the Stadtholder's court in Leeuwarden. Most of the time with his mother and sisters, because his father was often on campaign duting the Nine Years War.

In 1693 (when John was 6 years old), his father quit the army after having been passed over for a promotion as field marshal. Henry came home, and entrusted his son's education to the Frenchman Jean Lemonon (1653-1716), who was tought French at Franeker University. John would learn French and Latin from him.

In 1693 Lemonon wrote that John was always happy and a good student. He already knew a hundred French words, and knew our father by heart. Later he reported to his father that John was an easy and easy-learning student, of good memory and intelligence. His elder sister Henriëtta Albertine joined John during Bible studies. Later John would learn German, Geography, Mathematics etc. and the art of fortification. He learned fight and to ride a horse, and by doing this his health improved.

2 Succeeds his father

2.1 Stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen

On the death of his father in 1696 John immediately became stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen, even though his mother would be regent during his minority. In Drenthe William III became stadtholder.

2.2 to Franeker Univeristy

When John was 12 he got Corcelles Chandieu as governor. Corcelles was a lieutenant-colonel in the Dutch army. His sub-governor was named Dupuis. In March 1700 John went to Franeker University.

3 John William Friso succeeds William III

3.1 Successor to William III

As a minor of 15 John's position was rather weak in the succession crisis that erupted on the death of William III. William had named him as his successor in the United Provinces. John became Stadholder of Drenthe, but not of the other provinces. His age alone was reason enough not to appoint him for the moment.

3.2 Joins the army

Friso was a military man showing outstanding courage on the battlefield when he commanded the Dutch army, he was thus well-posed to succeed William III as stadholder of Holland some day. As the universal heir to William III he came into conflict with the king of Prussia. On his way to the Haque for negotiations with Prussia he died in a tragic accident, leaving only a posthumous son.

4 Career and Generalship

5 Sources

Johan Willem Friso en zijn tijd by Dr. C.J. Guibal.

Het leven van Johan Willem Friso was published in 1716.