Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine

Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine bigraphy, stories - German noble

Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine : biography

19 April 1658 – 8 June 1716

Johann Wilhelm II, Elector Palatine ("Jan Wellem" in Low German, English: "John William"; 19 April 1658 – 8 June 1716) was Elector Palatine (1690–1716), Duke Palatine of Neuburg/Danube (1690–1716), Duke of Jülich and Berg (1679–1716), and Duke of Upper Palatinate and Cham (1707–1714). From 1697 onwards Johann Wilhelm was also Count of Megen.

Art collection

He was more popular in Jülich-Berg, where he erected impressive buildings such as the Schloss Bensberg and led a lavish court which gave work to many artists and artisans, including the court painters Johannes Spilberg, his daughter Adriana, her later husband Eglon van der Neer, Adriaen van der Werff, Jan Frans van Douven, Herman van der Mijn, Jan van Nickelen, his daughter Jacoba Maria van Nickelen, her husband Willem Troost, Rachel Ruysch, Godfried Schalcken and Jan Weenix.(German) who worked for Johan Wilhelm, according to the Dusseldorf museum website His enormous collection of paintings by Rubens can still be seen in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

Today in Düsseldorf, the Jan-Wellem Platz is named after him.


Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 19 April 1658 – 26 May 1685 His Serene Highness Count Palatine Johann Wilhelm of Neuburg
  • 26 May 1685 – 2 September 1690 His Serene Highness The Electoral Prince of the Palatinate
  • 2 September 1690 – 8 June 1716 His Serene Highness The Elector Palatine


He was the son of Philip William of Palatinate-Neuburg and Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt and was born in Düsseldorf, where he resided, rather than in Heidelberg, which had been largely destroyed by French troops during the Nine Years’ War. He was educated by the Jesuits and in 1674 he made a grand tour to Italy.

He married in 1678 to Maria Anna Josepha, Archduchess of Austria. She was a daughter of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor and his third wife Eleanor of Mantua. After her death in 1689, he married Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, the daughter of Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. His brother was Franz Ludwig von Pfalz-Neuburg, his sisters were married to Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, Peter II of Portugal and Charles II of Spain.

His father ceded the duchies of Jülich and Berg to him already in 1679 before he finally succeeded him also as Elector of the Palatinate in 1690. In the Peace of Rijswijk (1697), he was restored to many of the possessions which had been taken by the French, with the provision that the Electorate of the Palatinate not revert to Protestantism. This provision did not make him popular in the Palatinate and with Protestants.

Johann Wilhelm proclaimed religious toleration in 1705.

During the war of the Spanish succession Johann Wilhelm received also the Bavarian Upper Palatinate which was returned to Bavaria in 1714. He died in Düsseldorf and was buried in the St. Andreas Church. Having no son, Johann Wilhelm was succeeded by his brother Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine.