William the Silent
Overview
William I, Prince of Orange (24 April 1533 – 10 July 1584), also widely known as William the Silent , or simply William of Orange , was the main leader of the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 revolt against the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 that set off the Eighty Years' War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 in 1648. He was born in the House of Nassau
House of Nassau
The House of Nassau is a diversified aristocratic dynasty in Europe. It is named after the lordship associated with Nassau Castle, located in present-day Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The lords of Nassau were originally titled Count of Nassau, then elevated to the princely class as...

 as Count of Nassau-Dillenburg
Nassau (state)
Nassau was a German state within the Holy Roman Empire and later in the German Confederation. Its ruling dynasty, now extinct in male line, was the House of Nassau.-Origins:...

. He became Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange is a title of nobility, originally associated with the Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. In French it is la Principauté d'Orange....

 in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau
House of Orange-Nassau
The House of Orange-Nassau , a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the political life of the Netherlands — and at times in Europe — since William I of Orange organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War...

.

A wealthy nobleman
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

, William originally served the Habsburgs as a member of the court of Margaret of Parma
Margaret of Parma
Margaret, Duchess of Parma , Governor of the Netherlands from 1559 to 1567 and from 1578 to 1582, was the illegitimate daughter of Charles V and Johanna Maria van der Gheynst...

, governor of the Spanish Netherlands.
Encyclopedia
William I, Prince of Orange (24 April 1533 – 10 July 1584), also widely known as William the Silent , or simply William of Orange , was the main leader of the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 revolt against the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 that set off the Eighty Years' War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 in 1648. He was born in the House of Nassau
House of Nassau
The House of Nassau is a diversified aristocratic dynasty in Europe. It is named after the lordship associated with Nassau Castle, located in present-day Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The lords of Nassau were originally titled Count of Nassau, then elevated to the princely class as...

 as Count of Nassau-Dillenburg
Nassau (state)
Nassau was a German state within the Holy Roman Empire and later in the German Confederation. Its ruling dynasty, now extinct in male line, was the House of Nassau.-Origins:...

. He became Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange is a title of nobility, originally associated with the Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. In French it is la Principauté d'Orange....

 in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau
House of Orange-Nassau
The House of Orange-Nassau , a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the political life of the Netherlands — and at times in Europe — since William I of Orange organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War...

.

A wealthy nobleman
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

, William originally served the Habsburgs as a member of the court of Margaret of Parma
Margaret of Parma
Margaret, Duchess of Parma , Governor of the Netherlands from 1559 to 1567 and from 1578 to 1582, was the illegitimate daughter of Charles V and Johanna Maria van der Gheynst...

, governor of the Spanish Netherlands. Unhappy with the centralisation of political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

 away from the local estates and with the Spanish persecution of Dutch Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, William joined the Dutch uprising and turned against his former masters. The most influential and politically capable of the rebels, he led the Dutch to several successes in the fight against the Spanish. Declared an outlaw
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

 by the Spanish king in 1580, he was assassinated by Balthasar Gérard
Balthasar Gérard
Balthasar Gérard was the assassin of the Dutch independence leader, William I of Orange...

 (also written as 'Gerardts') in Delft
Delft
Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland , the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague....

 four years later.

Early life

William was born on 24 April 1533 in the castle of Dillenburg
Dillenburg
Dillenburg is a town in Hesse's Gießen region in Germany. The town was formerly the seat of the old Dillkreis district, which is now part of the Lahn-Dill-Kreis....

 in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, now Nassau, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. He was the eldest son of William, Count of Nassau
William I, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg
William of Nassau was a count of Nassau-Dillenburg from the House of Nassau. He was called William the Rich....

 and Juliana of Stolberg-Werningerode
Juliana of Stolberg
Juliana, Countess of Stolberg-Wernigerode was the mother of William the Silent, the leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish in the 16th century....

, and was raised a Lutheran. He had four younger brothers and seven younger sisters: John, Hermanna, Louis
Louis of Nassau
Louis of Nassau was the third son of William, Count of Nassau and Juliana of Stolberg, and the younger brother of Prince William of Orange Nassau....

, Maria
Maria of Nassau (1539-1599)
Maria , Countess of Nassau, Katzenelnbogen, Vianden and Dietz, was a Dutch noblewoman.-Life:...

, Anna, Elisabeth, Katharine, Juliane, Magdalene, Adolf and Henry
Henry of Nassau-Dillenburg
Henry of Nassau, count of Nassau-Dillenburg, was the youngest brother of William I of Orange-Nassau....

.

When his cousin, René of Châlon
René of Châlon
René of Châlon , also known as Renatus of Châlon, was a Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Gelre....

, Prince of Orange, died childless in 1544, the eleven-year-old William inherited all Châlon's property, including the title Prince of Orange, on the condition that he receive a Roman Catholic education. This was the founding of the house of Orange-Nassau
House of Orange-Nassau
The House of Orange-Nassau , a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the political life of the Netherlands — and at times in Europe — since William I of Orange organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War...

. Besides Châlon's properties, he also inherited vast estates in the Low Countries (present-day Netherlands and Belgium). Because of his young age, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 served as the regent of the principality until William was fit to rule. William was sent to the Netherlands to receive the required education, first at the family's estate in Breda
Breda
Breda is a municipality and a city in the southern part of the Netherlands. The name Breda derived from brede Aa and refers to the confluence of the rivers Mark and Aa. As a fortified city, the city was of strategic military and political significance...

, later in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 under the supervision of Mary of Habsburg (Mary of Hungary), the sister of Charles V and governor of the Habsburg Netherlands
Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands
The Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands ruled the Habsburg Netherlands as a representative of the Duke of Burgundy .- Habsburg Netherlands :...

 (Seventeen Provinces
Seventeen Provinces
The Seventeen Provinces were a personal union of states in the Low Countries in the 15th century and 16th century, roughly covering the current Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, a good part of the North of France , and a small part of Western Germany.The Seventeen Provinces were originally held by...

). In Brussels, he was taught foreign languages and received a military and diplomatic education under the direction of Champagney (Jérôme Perrenot), brother of Granvelle.

On 6 July 1551, he married Anna van Egmond en Buren, the wealthy heir to the lands of her father, and William gained the titles Lord of Egmond and Count of Buren
Buren
Buren is a municipality and a city in the eastern Netherlands. It is also a county; with the Dutch Monarch still holding the title "Count of Buren".- Population centres :...

. They had three children. Later that same year, William was appointed captain
Captain (OF-2)
The army rank of captain is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to command of a company of soldiers. The rank is also used by some air forces and marine forces. Today a captain is typically either the commander or second-in-command of a company or artillery battery...

 in the cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

. Favoured by Charles V, he was rapidly promoted, and became commander of one of the Emperor's armies at the age of 22. He was made a member of the Raad van State, the highest political advisory council in the Netherlands It was in November 1555, shortly after Charles had abdicated in favour of his son, Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 that the gout-afflicted Emperor leaned on William's shoulder during his abdication ceremony.

His wife Anna died on 24 March 1558. Later, William had a brief relationship with Eva Elincx, leading to the birth of their illegitimate son, Justinus van Nassau
Justinus van Nassau
Justinus van Nassau was the only extramarital child of William of Orange. He was a Dutch army commander known for unsuccessfully defending Breda against the Spanish, and the depiction of his surrender on the famous picture by Diego Velázquez, The Surrender of Breda.His mother was Eva Elincx,...

: William officially recognised him and took responsibility for his education — Justinus would become an admiral in his later years.

In 1559, Philip appointed William as the stadtholder
Stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

 (governor) of the provinces Holland, Zeeland
Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

 and Utrecht
Utrecht (province)
Utrecht is the smallest province of the Netherlands in terms of area, and is located in the centre of the country. It is bordered by the Eemmeer in the north, Gelderland in the east, the river Rhine in the south, South Holland in the west, and North Holland in the northwest...

, thereby greatly increasing his political power. A stadtholdership over Franche-Comté followed in 1561.

From politician to rebel

Although he never directly opposed the Spanish king, William soon became one of the most prominent members of the opposition in the Council of State, together with Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn
Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn
Philip de Montmorency was also known as Count of Horn or Hoorne or Hoorn.-Biography:De Montmorency was born, between 1518 and 1526, possibly at the Ooidonk Castle, as the son of Jozef van Montmorency, Count of Nevele and Anna van Egmont...

 and Lamoral, Count of Egmont
Lamoral, Count of Egmont
Lamoral, Count of Egmont, Prince of Gavere was a general and statesman in the Habsburg Netherlands just before the start of the Eighty Years' War, whose execution helped spark the national uprising that eventually led to the independence of the Netherlands.The Count of Egmont headed one of the...

. They were mainly seeking more political power for themselves against the de facto government of Count Berlaymont
Claude de Berlaymont
Claude de Berlaymont , lord of Haultpenne was a Flemish military commander in Spain's Army of Flanders during the Eighty Years' War.-Family:...

, Granvelle and Viglius of Aytta
Viglius
Viglius , was the name taken by Wigle Aytta van Zwichem, a Dutch statesman and jurist, a Frisian by birth....

, but also for the Dutch nobility and, ostensibly, for the Estates, and complained that too many Spaniards were involved in governing the Netherlands. William was also dissatisfied with the increasing persecution of Protestants in the Netherlands. Brought up as a Lutheran and later a Catholic, William was very religious but was still a proponent of freedom of religion for all people. The inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

 policy in the Netherlands, carried out by Cardinal Granvelle
Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle
Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle , Comte de La Baume Saint Amour, was a Burgundian statesman, made a cardinal, who followed his father as a leading minister of the Spanish Habsburgs, and was one of the most influential European politicians during the time which immediately followed the appearance of...

, prime minister to the new governor
Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands
The Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands ruled the Habsburg Netherlands as a representative of the Duke of Burgundy .- Habsburg Netherlands :...

 Margaret of Parma
Margaret of Parma
Margaret, Duchess of Parma , Governor of the Netherlands from 1559 to 1567 and from 1578 to 1582, was the illegitimate daughter of Charles V and Johanna Maria van der Gheynst...

 (1522–83) (natural half-sister to Philip II), increased opposition to Spanish rule among the — then mostly Catholic — population of the Netherlands. Lastly, the members of the opposition wished to see an end to the presence of Spanish troops.

On 25 August 1561, William of Orange married for the second time. His new wife, Anna of Saxony
Anna of Saxony
Anna of Saxony was the only child and heiress of Maurice, Elector of Saxony, and Agnes, eldest daughter of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. She was the second wife of William the Silent.Anna was born and died in Dresden...

, was described by contemporaries as "self-absorbed, weak, assertive, and cruel", and it is generally assumed that William married her to gain more influence in Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

, Hesse
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

 and the Palatine. The couple had five children.

Up to 1564, any criticism of governmental measures voiced by William and the other members of the opposition had ostensibly been directed at Granvelle; however, after the latter's departure early that year, William, who may have found increasing confidence in his alliance with the Protestant princes of Germany following his second marriage, began to openly criticize the King's anti-Protestant politics. In an iconic speech to the Council of State
Dutch Council of State
In the Netherlands, the Council of State is a constitutionally established advisory body to the government which consists of members of the royal family and Crown-appointed members generally having political, commercial, diplomatic, or military experience...

, William to the shock of his audience motivated his conflict with King Philip II by saying that, even though he had decided for himself to keep to the Catholic faith, he could not approve that monarchs should desire to rule over the souls of their subjects and take away from them their freedom of belief and religion.

Later, in his Apology (1580), William stated that his resolve to oppose the King's policies had originated in June 1559, when, during a hunting trip to the Bois de Vincennes together with the duke of Alva and King Henry II of France
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

, to whom both had been sent as hostages to ensure the proper fulfillment of the conditions of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis following the Hispano-French war, the latter two had openly discussed a secret understanding between Philip and Henry which aimed at the extermination of the Protestants in both France and the Netherlands; William at that time had kept silent, but had decided for himself that he would not allow the slaughter of so many innocent subjects.

In early 1565, a large group of lesser noblemen, including William's younger brother Louis
Louis of Nassau
Louis of Nassau was the third son of William, Count of Nassau and Juliana of Stolberg, and the younger brother of Prince William of Orange Nassau....

, formed the Confederacy of Noblemen
Compromise of Nobles
The Compromise'of Nobles was a covenant of members of the lesser nobility in the Habsburg Netherlands who came together to submit a petition to the Regent Margaret of Parma on 5 April 1566, with the objective of obtaining a moderation of the placards against heresy in the Netherlands...

. On 5 April, they offered a petition to Margaret of Parma, requesting an end to the persecution of Protestants. From August to October 1566, a wave of iconoclasm
Iconoclasm
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes...

 (known as the Beeldenstorm
Beeldenstorm
Beeldenstorm in Dutch, roughly translatable to "statue storm", or Bildersturm in German , also the Iconoclastic Fury, is a term used for outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century...

) spread through the Low Countries. Calvinists
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

, Anabaptists and Mennonites, angry with their being persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church and opposed to the Catholic images of saints (which in their eyes conflicted with the Second Commandment
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

), destroyed statues in hundreds of churches and monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 throughout the Netherlands.

Following the Beeldenstorm, unrest in the Netherlands grew, and Margaret agreed to grant the wishes of the Confederacy, provided the noblemen would help to restore order. She also allowed more important noblemen, including William of Orange, to assist the Confederacy. In late 1566, and early 1567, it became clear that she would not be allowed to fulfill her promises, and when several minor rebellions failed, many Calvinists
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 (the major Protestant denomination) and Lutherans fled the country. Following the announcement that Philip II, unhappy with the situation in the Netherlands, would dispatch his loyal general Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba (also known as "The Iron Duke") to restore order, William laid down his functions and retreated to his native Nassau in April 1567. He had been (financially) involved with several of the rebellions.

After his arrival in August 1567, Alba established the Council of Troubles (known to the people as the Council of Blood) to judge those involved in the rebellion and the iconoclasm. William was one of the 10,000 to be summoned before the Council, but he failed to appear. He was subsequently declared an outlaw, and his properties were confiscated. As one of the most prominent and popular politicians of the Netherlands, William of Orange emerged as the leader of an armed resistance. He financed the Watergeuzen
Geuzen
Geuzen was a name assumed by the confederacy of Calvinist Dutch nobles and other malcontents, who from 1566 opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands. The most successful group of them operated at sea, and so were called Watergeuzen...

, refugee Protestants who formed bands of corsairs
Privateer
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

 and raided the coastal cities of the Netherlands (often killing Spanish and Dutch alike). He also raised an army, consisting mostly of German mercenaries
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 to fight Alba on land. William allied with the French Huguenots, following the end of the second Religious War in France when they had troops to spare. Led by his brother Louis, the army invaded the northern Netherlands in 1568. However the plan failed almost from the start. The Huguenots were defeated by French Royal Troops before they could invade, and a small force under Jean de Villers was captured within two days. Villers gave all the plans of the campaign to the Spanish following his capture. On 23 May, the army under the command of Louis won the Battle of Heiligerlee
Battle of Heiligerlee
The Battle of Heiligerlee was fought between Dutch rebels and the Spanish army of Friesland. This was the first Dutch victory during the Eighty Years' War....

 in the northern province of Groningen
Groningen (province)
Groningen [] is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. In the east it borders the German state of Niedersachsen , in the south Drenthe, in the west Friesland and in the north the Wadden Sea...

 against a Spanish army led by the stadtholder of the northern provinces, Jean de Ligne, Duke of Aremberg
Jean de Ligne, Duke of Aremberg
Jean de Ligne, Duke of Arenberg was Baron of Barbançon, founder of the House of Arenberg and stadtholder of the Dutch provinces of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel from 1549 until his death....

. Aremberg was killed in the battle, as was William's brother Adolf. Alba countered by killing a number of convicted noblemen (including the Counts of Egmont and Hoorn on 6 June), and then by leading an expedition to Groningen. There, he annihilated Louis’ forces on German territory in the Battle of Jemmingen
Battle of Jemmingen
After the Battle of Heiligerlee Louis of Nassau failed to capture the city Groningen. Louis was driven away by Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba and defeated at the Battle of Jemmingen on 21 July 1568.-Forces:The Spanish army consisted of 12,000 infantry , 3,000 cavalry, and some cannon...

 on 21 July, although Louis managed to escape. These two battles are now considered to be the start of the Eighty Years' War.

War

William responded by leading a large army into Brabant
Duchy of Brabant
The Duchy of Brabant was a historical region in the Low Countries. Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.The Flag of...

, but Alba carefully avoided a decisive confrontation, expecting the army to fall apart quickly. As William advanced, riots broke out in his army, and with winter approaching and money running out, William decided to turn back. William made several more plans to invade in the next few years, but little came of them, since he lacked support and money. He remained popular with the public, in part through an extensive propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 campaign conducted through pamphlets. One of his most important claims, with which he attempted to justify his actions, was that he was not fighting the rightful owner of the land, the Spanish king, but only the inadequate rule of the foreign governors in the Netherlands, and the presence of foreign soldiers. On 1 April 1572 a band of Watergeuzen captured the city of Brielle
Brielle
Brielle , also called Den Briel is a town and municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland, on the north side of the island of Voorne-Putten, at the mouth of the New Maas. The municipality covers an area of 31.12 km² of which 3.63 km² is water...

, which had been left unattended by the Spanish garrison. Contrary to their normal "hit and run" tactics, they occupied the town and claimed it for the prince by raising the Prince of Orange's flag above the city. This event was followed by other cities opening their gates for the Watergeuzen, and soon most cities in Holland and Zeeland
Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

 were in the hands of the rebels, notable exceptions being Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 and Middelburg
Middelburg
Middelburg is a municipality and a city in the south-western Netherlands and the capital of the province of Zeeland. It is situated in the Midden-Zeeland region. It has a population of about 48,000.- History of Middelburg :...

. The rebel cities then called a meeting of the Staten Generaal (which they were technically unqualified to do), and reinstated William as the stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland.

Concurrently, rebel armies captured cities throughout the entire country, from Deventer
Deventer
Deventer is a municipality and city in the Salland region of the Dutch province of Overijssel. Deventer is largely situated on the east bank of the river IJssel, but also has a small part of its territory on the west bank. In 2005 the municipality of Bathmen Deventer is a municipality and city in...

 to Mons
Mons
Mons is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut, of which it is the capital. The Mons municipality includes the old communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Baudour , Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles,...

. William himself then advanced with his own army and marched into several cities in the south, including Roermond
Roermond
Roermond is a city, a municipality, and a diocese in the southeastern part of the Netherlands.The city of Roermond is a historically important town, on the lower Roer at the east bank of the Meuse river. It received city rights in 1231...

 and Leuven
Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

. William had counted on intervention from the French Protestants (Huguenots) as well, but this plan was thwarted after the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots , during the French Wars of Religion...

 on 24 August, which signalled the start of a wave of violence against the Huguenots. After a successful Spanish attack on his army, William had to flee and he retreated to Enkhuizen
Enkhuizen
Enkhuizen is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland and the region of West-Frisia.Enkhuizen was one of the harbour-towns of the VOC, just like Hoorn and Amsterdam, from where overseas trade with the East Indies was conducted. It received city rights in 1355...

, in Holland. The Spanish then organised countermeasures, and sacked several rebel cities, sometimes massacring their inhabitants, such as in Mechelen
Mechelen
Mechelen Footnote: Mechelen became known in English as 'Mechlin' from which the adjective 'Mechlinian' is derived...

 or Zutphen. They had more trouble with the cities in Holland, where they took Haarlem
Siege of Haarlem
The siege of Haarlem was an episode of the Eighty Years' War. From December 11, 1572 to July 13, 1573 an army of Philip II of Spain laid bloody siege to the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands, whose loyalties had begun wavering during the previous summer...

 after seven months and a loss of 8,000 soldiers, and they had to break off their siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 of Alkmaar
Alkmaar
Alkmaar is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of Noord Holland. Alkmaar is well known for its traditional cheese market. For tourists, it is a popular cultural destination.-History:...

.

In 1573, William joined the Calvinist Church.

In 1574, William's armies won several minor battles, including several naval encounters. The Spanish, led by Don Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens
Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens
Luis de Requesens y Zúñiga also known as Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens was a Spanish politician and diplomat.-Biography:Luis de Requesens y Zúñiga was born at Molins de Rei...

 since Philip replaced Alba in 1573, also had their successes. Their decisive victory in the Battle of Mookerheyde
Battle of Mookerheyde
The Battle of Mookerheyde was a battle of the Eighty Years' War fought on 14 April 1574 near the village Mook and the river Meuse.In the winter months of on 1574, William the Silent's brothers, Louis and Henry of Nassau, raised a mercenary army in Germany of 6500 infantry and 3000 cavalry, and led...

 in the south east, on the Meuse
Meuse
Meuse is a department in northeast France, named after the River Meuse.-History:Meuse is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790...

 embankment, on 14 April cost the lives of two of William's brothers, Louis and Henry. Requesens's armies also besieged the city of Leiden. They broke off their siege when nearby dykes were breached by the Dutch. William was very content with the victory, and established the University of Leiden, the first university in the Northern Provinces.

William had his previous marriage legally disbanded in 1571, on claims that his wife Anna was insane. He then was married for the third time on 24 April 1575 to Charlotte de Bourbon-Monpensier
Charlotte of Bourbon
Charlotte of Bourbon , was the fourth daughter of Louis, Duke of Montpensier and Jacqueline de Longwy, Countess of Bar-sur-Seine...

, a former French nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

, who was also popular with the public. Together, they had six daughters.

After failed peace negotiations in Breda in 1575, the war lingered on. The situation improved for the rebels when Don Requesens died unexpectedly in March 1576, and a large group of Spanish soldiers, not having received their salary in months, mutinied in November of that year and unleashed the Spanish Fury on the city of Antwerp
Sack of Antwerp
The sack of Antwerp or the Spanish Fury at Antwerp was an episode of the Eighty Years' War.On 4 November 1576, Spanish tercios began the sack of Antwerp, leading to three days of horror among the population of the city, which was the cultural, economic and financial center of the Netherlands. The...

, a tremendous propaganda coup for the Dutch Revolt
Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands This article adopts 1568 as the starting date of the war, as this was the year of the first battles between armies. However, since there is a long period of Protestant vs...

. While the new governor, Don John of Austria, was under way, William of Orange managed to have most of the provinces and cities sign the Pacification of Ghent
Pacification of Ghent
The Pacification of Ghent, signed on November 8, 1576, was an alliance of the provinces of the Habsburg Netherlands for the purpose of driving mutinying Spanish mercenary troops from the country, and at the same time a peace treaty with the rebelling provinces Holland and Zeeland.-Background:In...

, in which they declared themselves ready to fight for the expulsion of Spanish troops together. However, he failed to achieve unity in matters of religion. Catholic cities and provinces would not allow freedom for Calvinists, and vice versa.

When Don John signed the Perpetual Edict in February 1577, promising to comply with the conditions of the Pacification of Ghent, it seemed that the war had been decided in favour of the rebels. However, after Don John took the city of Namur
Namur (city)
Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

 in 1577, the uprising spread throughout the entire Netherlands. Don John attempted to negotiate peace, but the prince intentionally let the negotiations fail. On 24 September 1577, he made his triumphal entry in the capital Brussels. At the same time, Calvinist rebels grew more radical, and attempted to forbid Catholicism in areas under their control. William was opposed to this both for personal and political reasons. He desired freedom of religion, and he also needed the support of the less radical Protestants and Catholics to reach his political goals. On 6 January 1579, several southern provinces, unhappy with William's radical following, signed the Treaty of Arras, in which they agreed to accept their Catholic governor, Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma (who had succeeded Don John).

Five northern provinces, later followed by most cities in Brabant and Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, then signed the Union of Utrecht
Union of Utrecht
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain....

 on 23 January, confirming their unity. William was initially opposed to the Union, as he still hoped to unite all provinces. Nevertheless, he formally gave his support on 3 May. The Union of Utrecht would later become a de facto constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

, and would remain the only formal connection between the Dutch provinces until 1795.

Declaration of Independence

In spite of the renewed union, the Duke of Parma was successful in reconquering most of the southern part of the Netherlands. Because he had agreed to remove the Spanish troops from the provinces under the Treaty of Arras, and because Philip II needed them elsewhere subsequently, the Duke of Parma was unable to advance any further until the end of 1581. In the mean time, William and his supporters were looking for foreign support. The prince had already sought French assistance on several occasions, and this time he managed to gain the support of François, Duke of Anjou
François, Duke of Anjou
Francis, Duke of Anjou and Alençon was the youngest son of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.-Early years:...

, brother of king Henry III of France
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

. On September 29, 1580, the Staten Generaal (with the exception of Zeeland and Holland) signed the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours
Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours
The Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours was signed on September 29, 1580 between the Dutch Staten Generaal and François, Duke of Anjou . Based on the terms of the treaty, François assumed the title of "Protector of the Liberty of the Netherlands" and became sovereign of the Dutch Republic...

 with the Duke of Anjou. The Duke would gain the title "Protector of the Liberty of the Netherlands" and become the new sovereign. This, however, required that the Staten Generaal and William renounce their formal support of the King of Spain, which they had maintained officially up to that moment.

On 22 July 1581, the Staten Generaal declared their decision to no longer recognise Philip II as their king, in the Act of Abjuration. This formal declaration of independence
Declaration of independence
A declaration of independence is an assertion of the independence of an aspiring state or states. Such places are usually declared from part or all of the territory of another nation or failed nation, or are breakaway territories from within the larger state...

 enabled the Duke of Anjou to come to the aid of the resisters. He did not arrive until 10 February 1582, when he was officially welcomed by William in Flushing
Flushing, Netherlands
Vlissingen is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren. With its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Vlissingen has been an important harbour for centuries. It was granted city rights in 1315. In the 17th century...

. On 18 March, the Spaniard Juan de Jáuregui
Juan de Jáuregui
Juan de Jáuregui was killed trying to assassinate Prince William I of Orange. He was a Biscayan by his birth in Bilbao....

 attempted to assassinate William in Antwerp. Although William suffered severe injuries, he survived thanks to the care of his wife Charlotte and his sister Mary. While William slowly recovered, the intensive care administered by Charlotte took its toll, and she died on 5 May. The Duke of Anjou was not very popular with the population. The provinces of Zeeland and Holland refused to recognise him as their sovereign, and William was widely criticised for what were called his "French politics". When the Anjou's French troops arrived in late 1582, William's plan seemed to pay off, as even the Duke of Parma feared that the Dutch would now gain the upper hand.

However, the Duke of Anjou himself was displeased with his limited powers, and decided to take the city of Antwerp by force on 18 January 1583. The citizens, who had been warned in time, defended their city in what is known as the "French Fury
French Fury
The "French Fury" was a failed attempt by François, Duke of Anjou to conquer the city of Antwerp by surprise on January 17, 1583.During the Eighty Years' War the States-General had asked in 1581 the French Duke to become head of state of the Seventeen Provinces, to obtain French support in...

". Anjou's entire army was killed, and he received reprimands from both Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 (whom he had courted). The position of Anjou after this attack became untenable, and he eventually left the country in June. His departure also discredited William, who nevertheless maintained his support for Anjou. He stood virtually alone on this issue, and became politically isolated. Holland and Zeeland nevertheless maintained him as their stadtholder, and attempted to declare him count of Holland and Zeeland, thus making him the official sovereign. In the middle of all this, William had married for the fourth and final time on 12 April 1583 to Louise de Coligny
Louise de Coligny
Louise de Coligny was the daughter of Gaspard de Coligny and Charlotte de Laval and the fourth and last spouse of William the Silent.-Biography:...

, a French Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

 and daughter of Gaspard de Coligny
Gaspard de Coligny
Gaspard de Coligny , Seigneur de Châtillon, was a French nobleman and admiral, best remembered as a disciplined Huguenot leader in the French Wars of Religion.-Ancestry:...

. She was to be the mother of Frederick Henry
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, or Frederik Hendrik in Dutch , was the sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel from 1625 to 1647.-Early life:...

 (1584–1647), William's fourth legitimate son.

Assassination

The Catholic Frenchman Balthasar Gérard
Balthasar Gérard
Balthasar Gérard was the assassin of the Dutch independence leader, William I of Orange...

 (born 1557) was a supporter of Philip II, and in his opinion, William of Orange had betrayed the Spanish king and the Catholic religion. After Philip II declared William an outlaw and promised a reward of 25,000 crowns for his assassination, and of which Gérard learned in 1581, he decided to travel to the Netherlands to kill William. He served in the army of the governor of Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld-Vorderort for two years, hoping to get close to William when the armies met. This never happened, and Gérard left the army in 1584. He went to the Duke of Parma to present his plans, but the Duke was unimpressed. In May 1584, he presented himself to William as a French nobleman, and gave him the seal of the Count of Mansfelt. This seal would allow forgeries of the messages of Mansfelt to be made. William sent Gérard back to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 to pass the seal on to his French allies.

Gérard returned in July, having bought pistols on his return voyage. On 10 July, he made an appointment with William of Orange in his home in Delft
Delft
Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland , the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague....

, nowadays known as the Prinsenhof
Prinsenhof
The Prinsenhof in Delft in the Netherlands is an urban palace built in the Middle Ages as a monastery. Later it served as a residence for William the Silent. The building still exists and now houses the municipal museum...

. That day, William was having dinner with his guest Rombertus van Uylenburgh
Rombertus van Uylenburgh
Rombertus van Uylenburgh or Rombout van Uylenborgh is best known as the father of Saskia van Uylenburgh, the wife of Rembrandt. Rombertus was one of the founders of the University of Franeker in 1585...

. After William left the dining room and climbed down the stairs, Van Uylenburgh heard Gérard shoot William in the chest at close range. Gérard fled to collect his reward.

According to official records, William's last words are said to have been:
Gérard was caught before he could flee Delft, and imprisoned. He was tortured before his trial on 13 July, where he was sentenced to be brutally — even by the standards of that time — killed. The magistrates decreed that the right hand of Gérard should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disemboweled alive, that his heart should be torn from his bosom and flung in his face, and that, finally, his head should be cut off.

Traditionally, members of the Nassau family were buried in Breda, but as that city was in Spanish hands when William died, he was buried in the New Church
Nieuwe Kerk (Delft)
Nieuwe Kerk is a landmark Protestant church in Delft, Netherlands. The building is located on Delft Market Square , opposite to the City Hall . In 1584, William the Silent was entombed here in a mausoleum designed by Hendrick and Pieter de Keyser. Since then members of the House of Orange-Nassau...

 in Delft
Delft
Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland , the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague....

. His monument on his tomb was originally very modest, but it was replaced in 1623 by a new one, made by Hendrik de Keyser and his son Pieter. Since then, most of the members of the House of Orange-Nassau
House of Orange-Nassau
The House of Orange-Nassau , a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the political life of the Netherlands — and at times in Europe — since William I of Orange organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War...

, including all Dutch monarchs have been buried in the same church. His great-grandson William the third
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

, King of England and Scotland and Stadtholder in the Netherlands, was buried in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...



According to a British historian of science Lisa Jardine
Lisa Jardine
Lisa Anne Jardine CBE , née Lisa Anne Bronowski, is a British historian of the early modern period. She is professor of Renaissance Studies and Director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary, University of London, and is Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority...

, he is reputed to be the first world head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 to be assassinated by handgun
Handgun
A handgun is a firearm designed to be held and operated by one hand. This characteristic differentiates handguns as a general class of firearms from long guns such as rifles and shotguns ....

, but William was not officially head of state, and the Scottish Regent Moray had been shot 13 years earlier.

Legacy

Philip William
Philip William, Prince of Orange
Philip William, Prince of Orange was the eldest son of William the Silent, who played an important role during the Dutch Revolt, by his first wife Anna van Egmont...

, William's eldest son by his first marriage, to Anna of Egmond, succeeded him as the Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange is a title of nobility, originally associated with the Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. In French it is la Principauté d'Orange....

 at the suggestion of Johan van Oldenbarneveldt. Phillip William died in Brussels on 20 February 1618 and was succeeded by his half-brother Maurice, the eldest son by William's second marriage, to Anna of Saxony
Anna of Saxony
Anna of Saxony was the only child and heiress of Maurice, Elector of Saxony, and Agnes, eldest daughter of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. She was the second wife of William the Silent.Anna was born and died in Dresden...

, who became Prince of Orange. A strong military leader, he won several victories over the Spanish. Van Oldenbarneveldt managed to sign a very favourable twelve-year armistice in 1609, although Maurice was unhappy with this. Maurice was a heavy drinker and died on 23 April 1625 from liver disease. Maurice had several sons by Margaretha van Mechelen, but he never married her. So, Frederick Henry
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, or Frederik Hendrik in Dutch , was the sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel from 1625 to 1647.-Early life:...

, Maurice's half-brother (and William's youngest son from his fourth marriage, to Louise de Coligny) inherited the title of Prince of Orange. Frederick Henry
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, or Frederik Hendrik in Dutch , was the sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel from 1625 to 1647.-Early life:...

 continued the battle against the Spanish. Frederick Henry
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, or Frederik Hendrik in Dutch , was the sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel from 1625 to 1647.-Early life:...

 died on 14 March 1647 and is buried with his father William "The Silent" in Nieuwe Kerk, Delft. The Netherlands became formally independent after the Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 in 1648.

The son of Frederick Henry, William II of Orange succeeded his father as stadtholder, as did his son, William III of Orange
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

. The latter also became king of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

, Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

 and Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 from 1689. Although he was married to Mary II
Mary II of England
Mary II was joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant, respectively, following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of...

, Queen of Scotland and England for 17 years, he died childless in 1702. He appointed his cousin Johan Willem Friso (William's great-great-great-grandson) as his successor. Because Albertine Agnes, a daughter of Frederick Henry, married William Frederik of Nassau-Dietz, the present royal house of the Netherlands is descended from William the Silent through the female line. See House of Orange for a more extensive overview. As the chief financer and political and military leader of the early years of the Dutch revolt, William is considered a national hero in the Netherlands, even though he was born in Germany, and usually spoke French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

.

Many of the Dutch national symbols can be traced back to William of Orange:
  • The flag of the Netherlands
    Flag of the Netherlands
    The flag of the Netherlands is a horizontal tricolour of red, white, and blue. Since 1937, the flag has officially been the national flag of the Netherlands and of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.-Description:...

     (red, white and blue) is derived from the flag of the prince, which was orange, white and blue.
  • The coat of arms
    Coat of arms
    A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

     of the Netherlands is based on that of William of Orange. Its motto Je maintiendrai (French, "I will maintain") was also used by William of Orange, who based it on the motto of his cousin René of Châlon, who used Je maintiendrai Châlon.
  • The national anthem
    National anthem
    A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

     of the Netherlands, the Wilhelmus
    Wilhelmus
    Wilhelmus van Nassouwe, usually known just as the Wilhelmus , , is the national anthem of the Netherlands and is the oldest national anthem in the world though the words of the Japanese national anthem date back to the ninth century...

    , was originally a propaganda song for William. It was probably written by Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde, a supporter of William of Orange.
  • The national colour of the Netherlands is orange
    Orange (colour)
    The colour orange occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum at a wavelength of about 585–620 nm, and has a hue of 30° in HSV colour space. It is numerically halfway between red and yellow in a gamma-compressed RGB colour space, the expression of which is the RGB colour wheel. The...

    , and it is used, among other things, in the clothing of Dutch athletes.
  • The orange sash of the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle
    Order of the Black Eagle
    The Order of the Black Eagle was the highest order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Prussia. The order was founded on 17 January 1701 by Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg . In his Dutch exile after WWI, deposed Emperor Wilhelm II continued to award the order to his family...

     was in honour of the Dutch Dynasty of William the Silent, since the order's founder, Frederick I of Prussia
    Frederick I of Prussia
    Frederick I , of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia in personal union . The latter function he upgraded to royalty, becoming the first King in Prussia . From 1707 he was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

    's mother, Louise Henrietta of Nassau, was the granddaughter of William the Silent.
  • A statue of William the Silent stands on the main campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, a legacy of the university's founding by ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1766. The statue is commonly known to students and alumni as "Willie the Silent" and contains an inscription referring to William as "Father of his Fatherland."
  • In January 2008, the asteroid 12151 Oranje-Nassau
    12151 Oranje-Nassau
    12151 Oranje-Nassau is a main-belt minor planet. It was discovered by Cornelis Johannes van Houten, Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld, and Tom Gehrels at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California, on March 25, 1971. It is named after William I, "The Silent", Prince of Orange.-External...

     was named after him.


In the 19th century the Netherlands became a constitutional monarchy, currently with Queen Beatrix of Orange as head of state: she is descended from William of Orange, although not in direct line.

Nickname

There are several explanations for the origin of his nickname
Nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

, "William the Silent". The most common one relates to his prudence in regard to a conversation with the king of France.


One day, during a stag-hunt in the Bois de Vincennes
Bois de Vincennes
The Bois de Vincennes is a park in the English landscape manner to the east of Paris. The park is named after the nearby town of Vincennes....

, Henry, finding himself alone with the Prince, began to speak of the great number of Protestant sectaries who, during the late war, had increased so much in his kingdom to his great sorrow. His conscience, said the King, would not be easy nor his realm secure until he could see it purged of the "accursed vermin," who would one day overthrow his government, under the cover of religion, if they were allowed to get the upper hand. This was the more to be feared since some of the chief men in the kingdom, and even some princes of the blood, were on their side. But he hoped by the grace of God and the good understanding that he had with his new son, the King of Spain, that he would soon get the better of them. The King talked on thus to Orange in the full conviction that he was aware of the secret agreement recently made with the Duke of Alva for the extirpation of heresy. But the Prince, subtle and adroit as he was, answered the good King in such a way as to leave him still under the impression that he, the Prince, knew all about the scheme proposed by Alva; and on this understanding the King revealed all the details of the plan which had been arranged between the King of Spain and himself for the rooting out and rigorous punishment of the heretics, from the lowest to the highest rank, and in this service the Spanish troops were to be mainly employed.


In the Netherlands, he is also known as the Vader des Vaderlands, "Father of the Fatherland
Father of the Nation
Father of the Nation is an honorific title given to a man considered the driving force behind the establishment of their country, state or nation...

", and the Dutch national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

, the Wilhelmus
Wilhelmus
Wilhelmus van Nassouwe, usually known just as the Wilhelmus , , is the national anthem of the Netherlands and is the oldest national anthem in the world though the words of the Japanese national anthem date back to the ninth century...

, was written in his honour.

Issue

Name Birth Death Notes
By Anna of Egmond (married 6 July 1551; b. est 1534, d. 24 March 1558)
Countess Maria of Nassau
Maria of Nassau (1553-1554)
Maria van Nassau was the first daughter of William the Silent and Anna van Buren. She was baptised in Breda on 12 December 1553 and, after dying in infancy, buried in the Grote of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Breda. William's second daughter Maria was named after her....

.
 22 November 1553 ca. 23 July 1555 Died in infancy.
Philip William, Prince of Orange
Philip William, Prince of Orange
Philip William, Prince of Orange was the eldest son of William the Silent, who played an important role during the Dutch Revolt, by his first wife Anna van Egmont...


and Count of Nassau
 19 December 1554  20 February 1618 married Eleonora of Bourbon-Condé.
Countess Maria of Nassau  7 February 1556  10 October 1616 married Count Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein
Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein
Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein ; buried at Öhringen, 5 november 1606, Count of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, was a Dutch army commander. Philip was the son of Ludwig Kasimir von Hohenlohe-Waldenburg and Anna zu Solms-Lich. On 7 february 1595 he married Maria of Nassau at Buren...

By Anna of Saxony
Anna of Saxony
Anna of Saxony was the only child and heiress of Maurice, Elector of Saxony, and Agnes, eldest daughter of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. She was the second wife of William the Silent.Anna was born and died in Dresden...

(married 25 August 1561 annulled 22 March 1571; b. 23 December 1544, d. 18 December 1577)
Countess Anna of Nassau  31 October 1562  23 November 1562 Died in infancy
Countess Anna of Nassau
Countess Anna of Nassau
Countess Anna of Nassau was a daughter of William the Silent and his second wife, Anna of Saxony. She was the wife of William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg.- Biography :...

 5 November 1563  13 June 1588 married Count Wilhelm Ludwig von Nassau-Dillenburg
William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg
William Louis of Nassau-Dillenburg was Count of Nassau-Dillenburg from 1606 to 1620, and stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen, and Drenthe. He was the eldest son of John VI, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg.William Louis served as a cavalry officer under William the Silent...

 18 December 1564  8 December 1566 Count, Died in infancy.
Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange
Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange
Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange was sovereign Prince of Orange from 1618, on the death of his eldest half brother, Philip William, Prince of Orange,...


and Count of Nassau
 14 November 1567  23 April 1625 never married
Countess Emilia of Nassau   10 April 1569  16 March 1629 married Manuel de Portugal
Manuel de Portugal
thumb|160px|Manuel, son of Anthony, Prior of CratoManuel of Portugal was the son of António, Prior of Crato, pretender to the Portuguese throne during the 1580 Portuguese succession crisis. He secretly married in 1597 Countess Emilia of Nassau, daughter of William the Silent and Anna of Saxony....

 (son of pretender to the Portuguese throne António, Prior of Crato
António, Prior of Crato
António, Prior of Crato , was a grandson of King Manuel I of Portugal, claimant of the Portuguese throne during the 1580 dynastic crisis, who was King of Portugal as António I of Portugal during 33 days in the continent in 1580, and, after the crowning of Philip II of Spain as King of Portugal,...

), 10 children
By Charlotte of Bourbon
Charlotte of Bourbon
Charlotte of Bourbon , was the fourth daughter of Louis, Duke of Montpensier and Jacqueline de Longwy, Countess of Bar-sur-Seine...

(married 24 June 1575; b. about 1546, d. 5 May 1582)
Countess Louise Juliana of Nassau   31 March 1576  15 March 1644 married Frederick IV, Elector Palatine
Frederick IV, Elector Palatine
Frederick IV, Elector Palatine of the Rhine , only surviving son of Louis VI, Elector Palatine and Elisabeth of Hesse, called "Frederick the Righteous" .-Life:Born in Amberg, his father died in October 1583 and...

, 8 children
Countess Elisabeth of Nassau  1577  1642 married to Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne
Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne, duc de Bouillon
Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne was a member of the powerful, House of La Tour d'Auvergne, Prince of Sedan and a marshal of France.-Biography:The vicomte de Turenne was born at the castle of...

, and had issue, including Frédéric Maurice, duc de Bouillon
Frédéric Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne, duc de Bouillon
Frédéric Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne, duc de Bouillon was prince of the independent principality of Sedan, and general in the French royal army....

 and Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne,often called simply Turenne was the most illustrious member of the La Tour d'Auvergne family. He achieved military fame and became a Marshal of France...

Countess Catharina Belgica of Nassau   1578  1648 Countess, married to Count Philip Louis II of Hanau-Münzenberg
Philip Louis II of Hanau-Münzenberg
Philip Louis II of Hanau-Münzenberg , was one of the most notable counts of Hanau of the early modern period, his policies bringing about sweeping changes....

Countess Charlotte Flandrina of Nassau   1579  1640 After her mother's death in 1582 her French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 grandfather asked for Charlotte Flandrina to stay with him. She became a Roman Catholic and entered a convent in 1593.
Countess Charlotte Brabantina of Nassau   1580  1631 married Claude, Duc de Thouars, and had issue, including Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby
Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby
Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby , born Charlotte de La Trémoille, was the daughter of the French nobleman Claude de La Trémoille, Duke of Thouars, and his wife Charlotte Brabantina of Nassau...

.
Countess Emilia Antwerpiana of Nassau  1581  1657 married Frederick Casimir, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Landsberg
Frederick Casimir, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Landsberg
Frederick Casimir was the Duke of Landsberg from 1604 until 1645.-Life:Frederick was born in Zweibrücken in 1585 as the second son of John I, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken and Magdalene of Jülich-Cleves-Berg...

By Louise de Coligny
Louise de Coligny
Louise de Coligny was the daughter of Gaspard de Coligny and Charlotte de Laval and the fourth and last spouse of William the Silent.-Biography:...

(married 24 April 1583; b. 23 September 1555, d. 13 November 1620)
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, or Frederik Hendrik in Dutch , was the sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel from 1625 to 1647.-Early life:...


and Count of Nassau
b. 29 January 1584 d. 14 March 1647 married to Countess Amalia of Solms-Braunfels
Amalia of Solms-Braunfels
Amalia of Solms-Braunfels , was a regent of Orange. She was the wife of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. She was the daughter of John Albert I of Solms-Braunfels and Agnes of Sayn-Wittgenstein.-Childhood:...

, father of William II and grandfather of William III
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

, King of England, Scotland, Ireland and Stadtholder of the Netherlands

Between his first and second marriage, William had an extramarital affair with one Eva Elincx. They had a son, Justinus van Nassau
Justinus van Nassau
Justinus van Nassau was the only extramarital child of William of Orange. He was a Dutch army commander known for unsuccessfully defending Breda against the Spanish, and the depiction of his surrender on the famous picture by Diego Velázquez, The Surrender of Breda.His mother was Eva Elincx,...

 (1559–1631), whom William acknowledged.

Coat of Arms

William used two sets of arms in his lifetime. The first one shown below was his ancestral arms of Nassau. The second arms he used most of his life from the time he became Prince of Orange on the death of his cousin René of Châlon
René of Châlon
René of Châlon , also known as Renatus of Châlon, was a Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Gelre....

. He placed the arms of Châlon-Arlay
House of Chalon-Arlay
This page is a list of the lords of Chalon-Arlay and the principality of Orange.The lords of Chalons and Arlay were a cadet branch of the ruling house of the county of Burgundy, the Anscarids or House of Ivrea....

 as princes of Orange
Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange is a title of nobility, originally associated with the Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. In French it is la Principauté d'Orange....

 as an inescutcheon on his father's arms. In 1582 William purchased the marquisate of Veere and Vlissingen in Zeeland. It had been the property of Philip II since 1567, but had fallen into arrears to the province. In 1580 the Court of Holland ordered it sold. William bought it as it gave him two more votes in the States of Zeeland. He owned the government of the two towns, and so could appoint their magistrates. He already had one as First Noble for Philip William, who had inherited Maartensdijk. This made William the predominant member of the States of Zeeland. It was a smaller version of the countship of Zeeland (& Holland) promised to William, and was a potent political base for his descendants. William then added the shield of Veere and Buren to his arms as shown in the third coat of arms below. It shows how arms were used to represent political power in general, and the growing political power of William.


Ancestry



External links


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