Skip to main content
Select Source:

William II (emperor of Germany and king of Prussia)

William II, 1859–1941, emperor of Germany and king of Prussia (1888–1918), son and successor of Frederick III and grandson of William I of Germany and of Queen Victoria of England.

Early Life

William was early alienated from his liberal-minded parents by his belief in the divine nature of kingship, his love of military display, and his impulsiveness. Much has been made of the fact that he had a withered left arm, in order to explain these traits as a compensation for his physical weakness. After studying at the Univ. of Bonn, he entered the army and in 1881 married Princess Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein.

Foreign and Domestic Affairs

As emperor, William endeavored to maintain and if possible extend the royal prerogative in order to make Germany a major naval, colonial, and commercial power. Friction soon developed between him and Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor who had controlled German affairs for nearly 30 years, and Bismarck was forced to resign in 1890. Succeeding chancellors (Leo von Caprivi, Prince Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Prince von Bülow, and Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg) were much less influential, and William was in general the dominating force in his own government. In domestic affairs he extended social reform, although he detested the socialists.

The conduct of foreign affairs was William's major interest, but he had no basic policy and was greatly influenced by his ministers. The reinsurance treaty with Russia, which had been a chief feature of Bismarck's system of alliance, was not renewed in 1890. Although sincerely desirous of maintaining friendly relations with Great Britain, William by his naval program and his colonial and commercial aspirations precluded an alliance between the two countries and drove England into the Entente Cordiale with France (see Triple Alliance and Triple Entente).

The German support of Russia in East Asia and the friendly relations between William and Czar Nicholas II of Russia (as revealed in the "Willy-Nicky" correspondence) were counteracted by the encouragement William gave to Austria in its Balkan policy. The already strained relations with France were further embittered by German interference in French colonial affairs in Africa, especially in Morocco. Alarmed at the growing isolation of Germany, William strengthened the Triple Alliance with Austria and Italy and secured Turkish adherence.

Indiscretions

The emperor was fond of travel, but his state visits frequently engendered ill feeling, as in the Moroccan crisis of 1905. His combined eloquence and impetuousness led him to speak or act unadvisedly on many occasions. Among the more famous incidents was his dispatch of a telegram of encouragement to President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal after the Boers had repulsed a British raid on the Transvaal (Dec., 1895; see Jameson, Sir Leander Starr). The message aroused British public opinion against Germany and the emperor.

Again in 1908, in the Daily Telegraph affair, William's indiscretion caused a public furor in Great Britain and in Germany. In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph, William revealed that German naval expansion was not directed at Great Britain but at Japan. He also stated that German public opinion was anti-British but that he did not share this sentiment. The affair produced a widespread demand for a check on the emperor's personal rule.

Decline and Abdication

After the outbreak of World War I William's power declined. From 1917 the military leaders Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg were the virtual dictators of Germany. The failure of the great German drive of 1918 was a prelude to the collapse of the Hohenzollern dynasty. The last chancellor of the German Empire, Maximilian, prince of Baden, negotiated for an armistice, but clamor for the emperor's abdication began to be heard in Germany, especially after U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made it a prerequisite of peace negotiations. Naval mutiny and civilian revolt were followed by republican proclamations in leading German cities.

On Nov. 9, 1918, Prince Max, without William's consent, announced the emperor's abdication. William fled to Holland and two weeks later formally abdicated in his own name and that of his family. Although the Treaty of Versailles provided that William be tried for promoting the war, the Dutch government refused to extradite him, and he remained in retirement at Doorn. There, after the death of Augusta Victoria, he married the widowed Princess Hermine of Schönaich-Carolath (1922).

Bibliography

See his memoirs (tr. 1922); My Early Life (tr. 1926); J. von Kürenberg, The Kaiser (tr. 1954); T. Aronson, The Kaisers (1971); M. Balfour, The Kaiser and His Times (1972); V. R. Berghahn, Imperial Germany, 1871–1914 (1995); M. Carter, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm (2010).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"William II (emperor of Germany and king of Prussia)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"William II (emperor of Germany and king of Prussia)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/william-ii-emperor-germany-and-king-prussia

"William II (emperor of Germany and king of Prussia)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/william-ii-emperor-germany-and-king-prussia

William II

William II

The last of the Hohenzollern rulers, William II (1859-1941) was emperor of Germany and king of Prussia from 1888 until his forced abdication in 1918.

In the crucial years before World War I, William II was the most powerful and most controversial figure in Europe. His domineering personality and the comparatively vague political structure of the post-Bismarck state combined to make his reign over the most advanced country in Europe both authoritarian and archaic.

William was born on Jan. 27, 1859. He was the son of Frederick III and Princess Victoria of England. William's views of his prerogatives were strongly influenced by his Prussian military education, amidst the subservience and flattery of his fellow cadets. After completing his studies at the University of Bonn, William entered the army and in 1881 married Princess Augusta Victoria of Schleswig Holstein.

William was an intelligent, dashing, impulsive young man who loved military display and believed in the divine nature of kingship; his strong personality overcame the serious handicap (for a horseman) of a withered left arm. His father found William immature, but Chancellor Otto von Bismarck considered him a more acceptable successor to his grandfather (and to Frederick the Great) than his liberal father. Conservative circles in Germany breathed a sigh of relief when the death of William I in 1888 was quickly followed by that of Frederick III. William II ascended the throne that year.

Differences between the young kaiser and the aging Bismarck soon were public knowledge. Serious questions of policy separated them, such as whether to renew the anti-Socialist legislation on the books since 1878, and in foreign affairs, whether to keep the alliance with Russia as well as with Austria, as Bismarck insisted. But basically the split was a personal one, the question being which man was to rule Germany. William forced Bismarck to resign in 1890, and thereafter he steered his own course.

It seemed to mark the beginning of a new era. William was the representative of a new generation that had grown up since German unification, and he was at home in the world of technology and of neoromantic German nationalism. Indeed, William gave the impression of dynamism. He was always in the public eye and caught, for a time, the imagination of his country. But he cared little for the day-to-day problems of government, and his "policies" were often shallow, short-lived, and contradictory. Thus the "Labor Emperor" of the early years of the reign soon became the implacable enemy of the Social Democratic working-class movement. In foreign policy his inconsistencies were even more glaring. England and Russia, in particular, were alternately wooed and rebuffed; both ultimately ended up as foes. Sometimes the Kaiser's sounder instincts were overridden by his advisers, as in the Morocco crisis of 1905, which William, who was essentially peaceful in intent, had not wished to provoke. But mainly his mistakes were his own.

Foreign opinion concerning the Kaiser was much more hostile than German opinion, and his often bellicose and pompous utterances did much to tarnish Germany's image abroad. Nevertheless, World War I and postwar depictions of him as the incarnation of all that was evil in Germany were grossly unfair. So little was he the martial leader of a militaristic nation that his authority in fact faded during World War I, and the military assumed increasing control. Belatedly, William tried to rally a warweary nation with promises of democratic reforms, but at the end of the war the German Republic was proclaimed without serious opposition. William abdicated in November 1918.

After his abdication William lived in quiet retirement in Doorn, Holland, not actively involved with the movement for a restoration of the monarchy. He died in Doorn on June 4, 1941.

Further Reading

Most studies of William II have been in a popular vein. Two good recent biographies are Virginia Cowles, The Kaiser (1963), and Michael Balfour, The Kaiser and His Time (1964). William's autobiographical My Early Life (trans. 1926) ends at 1888. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"William II." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"William II." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/william-ii-1

"William II." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/william-ii-1

William II

William II (1859–1941) Emperor of Germany (1888–1918). He modelled himself on his grandfather, William I, but lacked his good sense. Clashing with Otto von Bismarck, he dismissed him in 1890, and assumed leadership of the government himself. William's aggressive foreign policy, including the construction of a navy to challenge the British, antagonized Britain, France, and Russia. Many historians regard his policies as largely responsible for the outbreak of World War 1 (1914). During the war, William was exclusively concerned with military matters. He abdicated after the armistice (November 1918).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"William II." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"William II." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/william-ii

"William II." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/william-ii

July, William II 19(?)(?)–

William July II 19(?)(?)

Author

Young Writer

Writing As Catharsis

Picked Up by Doubleday

Personal Insight

Selected writings

Sources

William July II belongs to a new genre of African-American writers of popular inspirational literature. Julys two books, Brothers, Lust, and Love: Thoughts on Manhood, Sex, and Romance, and Understanding the Tin Man: Why So Many Men Avoid Intimacy, provide readers with a blueprint for achieving solid, positive relationships. Though July began his career writing for African-American magazines, his works are not specifically geared toward the blackcommunity,but rather at a universal audience. He believes his ideas resonate with female readers in particular. As he wrote on his Internet site, williamjuly.com, he considers these books great resources for women because they reveal many of the deep passions and emotions men have, but often conceal from women for various reasons. The value of these books for men is found in the way I candidly share my experiences (and the experiences/ opinions of other men) to demonstrate the fact that a man is at his best in life when he learns to be masculine and sensitive too.

Young Writer

July always liked to write, and even attended the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, from which he graduated with a certificate in creative writing. My interest in writing was a passion I had as a boy, he recalled on his Internet site. Ive always enjoyed writingand my teachers always encouraged me to keep writing. One of my college professors even told me I should be a writer. To make a long story short, I didnt pursue it as a career because I, like many people, put my dreams on hold to pursue what I thought was a real job. July was ambitious even as a teenager: he founded his own insurance agency at the age of 18, and earned a real estate license before he even graduated from Texas Southern University. For several years, he juggled a number of jobs, including his real-estate business, teaching at Houston Community College, and beginning a career in law enforcement.

By the early 1990s, July was workingas a patrol officer in Houston and selling homes in his off-duty hours. He described this era as an extremely stressful, with no time for a real relationship or even to eat properly or exercise. Though July gave the impression of financial success, I could feel myself unraveling inside, he wrote in his second book, Understanding the Tin Man. I was tired, unfulfilled, and burning out fast. When his father suffered a heart attack, and he found himself lecturing his elder at the bedside for leading a lifestyle that was not that different from his own, July realized that it was likely that he, too, would be in the same cardiac-care unit some day. He resolved to make some changes in his life.

Writing As Catharsis

For some time, July had been frustrated with his relationships and his inability to connect on an intimate level with a girlfriend. He realized that much of it was his own fault, and began thinking about the reasons that had brought him to such a state. He found catharsis through writing about it, and began submiting

At a Glance

Born to William and Alice July; married Jamey Lacy; stepchildren: Laney. Education: Earned B,A. from Texas Southern University; attended the Harris County Sheriffs Academy.

Career : Founder of insurance agency; became realestate broker; Houston Community College, instructor in photography, real estate, and publishing; servedasa patrol officer in the Houston metropolitan area, early 1990s; aide to Houston city council member; writer, 1996-; motivational speaker, 1997-; teacher of creative writing in theWriters in the SchoolsProgram, Houston, TX.

Awards : Recipient of several community awards for volunteer work.

Addresses : Office Positive Energy Company, P.O. Box 62027, Houston, TX 77025-2027.

articles to publications like Essence and Todays Black Woman. The success he found led him to attempt a full-length book that he called Brothers, Lust, and Love: Thoughts on Manhood, Sex, and Romance.

July published his debut himself in 1996, and within a few months it was appearing on the lists of the most popular works among an African-American readership. Soon, July was offered a contract with the publishing giant Doubleday, and expanded Brothers, Lust, and Love for a 1998 edition. In it, July argues that soul should be the basis for a relationship, not sex or financial status. He discusses relationships among African-Americans, and touches upon the particular situation of the black male, who must combat a tough array of stereotypes on a daily basis before he can even begin to feel like a loving, capable person. The work also discusses inter-ethnic dating, and features a number of lists designed to provide insight, such as ten things women do that cause men to break up with them, and ten myths about romancewhich July then convincingly debunks.

Picked Up by Doubleday

The success of Brothers, Lust, and Love led to a secondary career for July as a motivational speaker, and he was gratified to meet so many people, men and women alike, who had learned from his book. Some of the experiences they shared became part of his second book, Understanding the Tin Man: Why So Many Men Avoid Intimacy, published by Doubleday in 1999. The work is aimed at men of all color, and centers around what July calls the Tin Manparadox. The inspiration came from the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and the book that preceded it. One of the characters is a woodsman whose axe became cursed and turned on him; he eventually cut out his own heart with it. In the film, the Tin Man is part of a trio who accompany a Kansas farm girl, Dorothy, to visit a wizard who will grant their deepest wishes. The Tin Man wants a heart. The lack of a heart represents our separation from our completeness, July writes in the book. We strive to master the physical, external sideof ourselves, while neglecting the inner manthe part of us that needs intimate and strong human relationships t o thrive.

In Understanding the Tin Man, July goes on to claim that cultural and social conditioning incite men to be strong, fearless, and even manipulate others; such expectations rob men of their ability to connect intimately with another human being. He wrote about the same subject, which described as macho-cide, in an article for Essence. In the article, he recounted an incident in his own life a few years back when he was plagued by a persistent cough. I refused to go to the doctor because I thought as a man I should be able to tough it out, July confessed. As it turned out, my heart was enveloped in a huge balloon of fluid, and I was slowly suffocating. Men, July observed, usually win praise for behaviors that help them avoid real intimacya driven, ambitious man is commended as a financial success, while a Casanovatype is esteemed for his ability to seduce women. We must re-create ourselves by first realizing that our human frailties and our dependence on the love of others are actually the building blocks of spiritualpower,he wrote in Essence.

Personal Insight

July calls himself a recovering Tin Man, and in his second book recounts his previous lifestyle and the emotionally shallow relationships he engaged in that seemed to be based purely on sex. It was only after he had been dating the woman who would become his future wife, and finally recognized the battle of two voices inside him, Fear and Love, that an epiphany of sorts occurred. The Tin Mans avoidance of intimacy is really about fear, he writes in Understanding the Tin Man. Hes afraid his feelings will make him vulnerable and leave him open to getting hurt. Hes afraid that expressing his feelings may not look masculine. Or he could be afraid because hes never gotten to know his feelings enough to trust them.

Julys book offers a number of ideas, personal anecdotes, and even sports analogies to help readers understand the Tin Man within themselves. He also devotes a good deal of text to recognizing a Tin Woman. "Reality Checks on every few pages highlight key ideas. Again, July provides lists, such as the Five Greatest Fears Men Have About Intimacyand Relationships. The last point on this list cites being held emotionally hostage as one of mens biggest fears, and he points out that what they perceive to be the loss of personal freedom inside a committed relationship is one of the toughest myths to overcome. July notes that men are conditioned to believe that a true masculine personality emerges only through bachelorhood, a state that males dream about in much the same way that women fantasize about their wedding day. Understanding the Tin Man received a positive review from Publishers Weekly, which found it packed with solid insights and a work that reinforces his position as a cool-headed referee in the battle of the sexes.

July is writing a third book, and working toward a theology degree. The recipient of numerous local awards for community service, he visits elementary schools in Houston as part of the citys Writers in the Schools Program to teach creative writing. He is married and a stepfather to a young ballet dancer who figures prominently in his anecdote of the night that he finally slayed the Fear dragon in his head. A popular motivational speaker, July has even appeared on national television. He answers questions on his web site, but dismissed the idea that he is an expert on the topic of relationships and intimacy. Nobody can really be an expert at telling other people how to live their lives or how to conduct their relationships because were all still learning in this life, day by day, July asserts. The strength of my writing and speaking comes from the fact that Im the every-day guy next door. People can relate to me because Im not analyzing them or preaching at them. I discuss issues with my readers and audiences the way two friends would talk and exchange ideas.

Selected writings

Brothers, Lust, and Love: Thoughts on Manhood, Sex, and Romance, Khufu Books, 1996, Doubleday, 1998.

Understanding the Tin Man: Why So Many Men Avoid Intimacy, Doubleday, 1999.

The Complete Guide to Getting Any Book Published, Khufu Books, 1999.

Sources

Essence, March, 2000.

Jet, March 30, 1998, pp. 15-17.

Publishers Weekly, April 6, 1998, p. 67; December 13, 1999, p. 74.

Other

Additional information for this profile was obtained on-line at http://www.williamjuly.com.

Carol Brennan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"July, William II 19(?)(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"July, William II 19(?)(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/july-william-ii-19

"July, William II 19(?)(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/july-william-ii-19