|Name||Pieter Hans Johan van Draak|
|Birth/Death||August 9, 1701- Sept. 22, 1787|
|Consort||Maria Amalia of Hesse-Kassel|
Pieter I (Pieter Hans Johan Van Draak, 1701-1787) was the ninth king of Brunant.
Pieter I was born in Grijzestad at Grijzestad Palace in 1701 to Marten and his second wife, Louise of France. He was sent at an early age to study in The Netherlands. In 1740, he married Maria Amalia of Hesse-Kassel, the daughter of Wilhelm VIII of Hesse Kassel.
In 1744, his father, King Marten I died and he came to power. A few months later, his wife died after prolonged post-labor complications. His father, Martin, under the influence of his Chief Minister Julian Gonia had passively offered support to Spain, and infamously France during the War of the Austrian Succession. Upon his ascension to the throne he had Gonia removed from office and expelled the French and Spanish and formally kept Brunant neutral in the latter stages of the war. Joseph Ritter was appointed chief minister and embarked on a neutral course.
After this he slowly tried to push Brunant out of the Spanish sphere of influence in order to keep Brunant out of costly wars, which on previous occasions were close to seeing the country invaded.
He transformed Grijzestad from a small capital to a world-class city. He was a major patron of the arts and culture, as well as science. Between the 1740s and 1750s the ideas of the enlightenment reached Brunant and education and science flourished, while the power and influence of the church was diminished.
By the 1750s, though, re-emerging conflict led Brunant to seek ties to other anti-French powers. Brunant was building up its navy, including the construction of two large ships of the line, Pabella and Sint-Ines, which nearly bankrupt the state were it not for loans from several private backers (including the Murais family). Brunant was invaded by France in 1756 and this would lead to three years of war, marked by long sieges. Brunant, who had links to Hesse-Kassel, immediately sought their help and that of Britain and Prussia. Brunant was ultimately able to prevail. The war, though, ruined Brunant financially and economically and the country fell into a cultural and economic recession for some 20 years.
But, the king was of a weak mind and by the 1770s he was discovered by physicians to have been mentally ill. He ultimately sank into a condition of mental stupor. He showed symptoms of paranoia, delusions and according to one courtier, he was "jolly mad". He was once known for having courtiers dress as parrots and dance for him. The king was untrusting of most and he was easily manipulated by his mistress, Anna Harington and other close confidants. Around 1773 Harington and Guard Captain Emil van Houten came into effective control of the king and government, holding sway over the king. Under their control much public funds were squandered on the construction of the Realpaleis, and may more were diverted to their pockets.
Eventually seeing the effects of their bad rule, Guard Colonel Michiel Blanchart launched a "coup" in 1776, arresting both Harington and van Houten. He was able to persuade the king to sign death warrants, eventually convincing him that they used him for their own means. Blanchart initially held much sway over the weak-minded king, and was able to divert much funds to bolster the Royal Guard. The king was made to believe he was in control, while Blanchart was able to dictate what news reached the king and what orders he gave.
But by 1779, the king began to fall under the saw of his physician Wilfried Saks. Soon enough, he filled the king's head with the idea that Blanchart planned to make the army strong and launch a coup against him. In 1780, under Saks' directions, Blanchart was arrested and put in prison and the guard was purged in order to install "friendlier" commander. For the next four years, Saks would hold immense power in Brunant.
It was during his reign in 1784 that James Carrington invaded Brunant. Pieter I's army (composed mainly of volunteers) were soundly defeated at the Battle of Donderstad. A panicking Wilfried Saks was arrested trying to link up with Carrington and was branded a traitor and executed against the king's wishes. Later on, the King was captured in Koningstad. He was forced to abdicate in favor of his nephew, Adrian II. He moved to Sicily, where he died in 1787.
Carrington's invasion over Brunant saw his sister's son, Adrian II, named king, but many supporters of the "true king", as they called Pieter believed his daughter's son should be king. There was a claim of many years by his descendants to the throne, but his daughter Brigitta's last descendant died in 1925, thus extinguishing that claim.
A number of royalists viewed Pieter's abdication as illegitimate, only recognizing the end of his reign upon his death in 1787. Some viewed Adrian II as too much of a puppet of Carrington to be a true monarch, though some recognized the fact of him being the closest male relative to the (then dead king). There was a competing claim from Hélène II de Cettatie (1740-1808), the only other surviving male-line descendant of Karl I, though there was little support for it within Brunant, especially following her death in 1808.
A statue of Pieter II is located in the Arabian Quarter.
In 1740, he married Maria Amalia of Hesse-Kassel (1721-1744), a German princess. The pair would have two daughters:
- Princess Brigitta (1741-1800)
- Princess Alexandra (1744-1745)
In 1744, Maria Amalia became pregnant for a second time. Doctors believed was a boy, but she gave birth to a girl, who died barely three months later. When Maria Amalia died in 1744, Pieter's advisors began looking for a suitable wife (to produce an heir) and in 1750 he was married to Matilde d'Este (7 February 1729 – 14 November 1803), daughter of Francesco III, Duke of Modena.
He and Matilde lived a happy enough marriage, but her inability to produce an heir soon kept them apart. She was unable to get pregnant until 1753, after which the child was a miscarriage. A number of false pregnancies ensued and after 1755 the couple would not sleep together. The couple's marriage was annulled in 1756, with (false) charges of unfaithfulness and unwillingness to bear child brought up as evidence.
In 1756 the king secretly married one of her ladies-in-waiting, but was unable to give her any children.