William the Silent, Prince of Orange

Born in 1533 in the Holy Roman Empire; modern-day Germany, to the house of Nassau. He had four younger brothers and seven younger sisters, making him the oldest of twelve. His siblings’ names were John, Hermanna, Louis, Mary, Anna, Elisabeth, Katharine, Juliane, Magdalene, Adolf, and Henry. He was raised Lutheran and when his cousin died in 1544, William inherited all of his estates and the title of Prince of Orange. But he was young, so Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared that he would serve as Prince of Orange until William was old enough. So William was sent to Brussels where he was given a Roman Catholic education under Maria of Austria.

He was married in 1551 to Anne van Egmond en Buren, giving William several more titles. The same year William was given the position of captain in the cavalry and earned several other promotions. In 1555, Charles V abdicated the throne for Philip II of Spain. William did not like the hold that the Spanish were getting over the Dutch, and he became a prominent member of the opposition, along with, Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn and Lamoral, Count of Egmont. William also was against the prosecution of Protestants because he was raised as a Lutheran, Spain brought more prosecution with them since Spain was a very Catholic country.

It was in 1565 that William and several others offered a petition to Margeret of Austria to stop the prosecution. William was heavily involved financially in several revolts. The Spanish called The Council of Troubles, where 10,000 men were called including William. William did not show up, and consequently was declared an outlaw, and all of his properties were taken away. But he was still very popular, and he was able to gather an army, and he started the Eighty Years’ War.

Though William did not live to see the end of the war, the Dutch gained their independence from the Spanish crown. William’s son, Philip William, inherited the title Prince of Orange after William was assassinated in 1584. After he was declared an outlaw, a large ransom was put on his head, and a french catholic named Balthasar Gérard shot William in the chest at close range, in his own home. His last words are said to have been “My Lord, My Lord, have pity on me and your poor people


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