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William I, Count of Holland

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William I, Count of Holland

William I of Holland
Count of Holland
William I as imagined in the 16th century
Reign 1203 – 4 February 1222
Predecessor Ada
Successor Floris IV
Born ca. 1167
The Hague
Died February 4, 1222(1222-02-04)
Burial Rijnsburg
Spouse Adelaide of Guelders
Marie of Brabant
Issue Floris IV
Otto, Bishop of Utrecht
Ada, Abbess at Rijnsburg
Father Floris III
Mother Ada of Huntingdon

William I (c. 1167, The Hague – 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 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 civil war (part of the Hook and Cod Wars), which lasted for several years, William won the war. 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. 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

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

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