William 1 of Orange
William 1 of Orange
(the Silent). Born Apr. 24, 1533, in Dillenburg, Germany; died July 10, 1584, in Delft, Holland. Prince of Orange, count of Nassau, and active figure in the Netherlands Bourgeois Revolution of the 16th Century.
William I of Orange was a German count (the eldest son of the count of Nassau-Dillenburg) and possessed extensive domains in the Netherlands and in France (the Principality of Orange). In the early 1560’s he became the leader of the Netherlands aristocratic opposition to the Spanish regime, and, after a Spanish army entered the Netherlands in 1567, he went into hiding in Germany. With the aid of German Protestant princes and French Huguenots he organized several invasions of the Netherlands (1568 and 1572). The success of a popular uprising in the northern part of the country in 1572 prompted William I of Orange to go over to the side of the revolution. In 1572, on the initiative of the big Dutch commercial bourgeoisie, he was recognized as stadtholder (viceroy) of the states of Holland and Zeeland and accorded almost dictatorial powers. A clever politician and diplomat and a master of political intrigues and compromises who attempted to strengthen his personal power, William, nevertheless, in this period of his activity objectively assisted the consolidation of national forces entering the struggle against Spain. After the victory of the revolt in the southern part of the country in 1576 William left Holland for Brussels, where he assumed the post of ruwaard (highest extraordinary administrative office) of Brabant in 1577. He tried to wage war against Spain, basing his support on conservative forces and foreign assistance and suppressing demonstrations of the popular masses. He was assassinated by the Spanish agent B. Gérard.
REFERENCESRachfahl, F. Wilhelm von Oranien … . vols. 1-3. Halle-The Hague, 1906-24.
Blok, P. J. Willem de Eerste Prins van Oranje, vols. 1-2. Amsterdam, 1919-20.
Schelven, A. A. Willem von Oranje. Haarlem, 1933.
A. N. CHISTOZVONOV