William the Silent, Prince of Orange
William the Silent, Prince of Orange: the moderate man of the sixteenth century.
The story of his life as told from his own letters, from those of his friends and enemies,
and from official documents
William of Nassau became Prince of Orange at the age of eleven when he inherited the estates and titles of a cousin. A condition of this inheritance was that he should be brought up at the court of Mary, Regent of the Netherlands. Here he came to the attention of the Emperor Charles V who developed a great affection for him. Here too, the boy from the Protestant family learned to conform to the Catholic faith of the court, and perhaps began to develop the religious tolerance that was so characteristic of him in later life and which led him inevitably into conflict with the rigid intolerance of Charles' son and successor, Philip II.
Though William didn't live to see the complete union of the Netherlands, his years of military and diplomatic struggles against the oppression of their Spanish overlords were such that he is known as the Father of the Fatherland.
William wrote over a thousand letters in his fifty-one years: letters to family and friends, to allies and enemies, to monarchs and ambassadors, and to the official bodies of the provinces that made up the Low Countries. This wealth of personal expression gives great insight into his character and motivations, and forms the basis of this biography.
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