William II
1859 ­ 1941

German emperor and king of Prussia (1888­1918), born in Potsdam, Germany, the eldest son of Frederick III (1831­88) and Victoria (the daughter of Britain's Queen Victoria), and grandson of Emperor William I. He dismissed Bismark (1890), and began a long period of personal rule, displaying a bellicose attitude in international affairs. He pledged full support to Austria­Hungary after the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo (1914), but then made apparent efforts to prevent the escalation of the resulting international crisis.

During the war he became a mere figurehead, and when the German armies collapsed, and US President Wilson refused to negotiate while he remained in power, he abdicated and fled the country. He settled at Doorn, in The Netherlands, living as a country gentleman.

Except where noted, data in the BIOGRAPHY® Online Database is from the AND Reference Database, which incorporates the Cambridge Encyclopedia Database. Copyright © 1997, AND Reference Data Ltd., Oxford, UK. and The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, edited by J S. Bowmen. Copyright © 1995 Cambridge University Press. Reproduced with permission.

 

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