William I of Orange

William I of Orange (of the house of Nassau), the first leader in the Dutch war of independence, was born of Lutheran parents at Dillenburg, in Nassau, April 16,1533. He was educated in the principles of the Reformed religion; but the emperor Charles V, who early became interested in his career, removed him to his 'court, and had him trained in the Roman Catholic faith. The emperor soon admitted the boy to great intimacy with him, allowing him alone to be present when he gave audience to foreign ambassadors, and in other ways honoring him with a confidence far above his years. The discretion which the young prince manifested in matters of public concern gained for him the surname of The Silent; and even the emperor avowed that he had been indebted to so young a man for important suggestions which had not occurred to his own mind. In 1554 he put him in command of troops, and employed him in diplomacy. On the abdication of Charles in favor of his son Philip II, the relation of William to the crown was materially changed. Philip hated him on account of the esteem in which he had been held by his father. Yet, under Philip, William paved the way for the treaty of Cateau- Cambrisis in 1559, and Henry II of France detained him and the duke of Alva as hostages for its execition. While Charles remained on the throne William adhered to the Roman faith; but on the abdication of that monarch he embraced Calvinism as readily as he had abandoned Lutheranism in his youth. This change was unknown to the French monarch at the time of his residence there, who, supposing him to enjoy the same confidence with Philip that he had enjoyed with Charles, incautiously revealed to him the secret of a treaty lately concluded between the crowns of France and Spain to exterminate "that accursed vermin the Protestants" in the dominions of both. William hastened to communicate this disclosure to the Protestant leaders at Brussels, and Philip discovered that he had revealed the secret. William was already a member of the council of state which was to assist Margaret of Parma in the regency of the Netherlands. Being also stadtholler of Holland, Zealand, and Utrecht, he was able to exert a strong influence in behalf of the Protestants, and largely undermine the designs of Philip. In 1564 he brought about the removal of Cardinal Granvelle, the principal enemy of the Protestants, but could, not prevent the introduction of the Inquisition, and the increasingly strong hand of persecution. At length the approach of the bloody duke of Alva, to whom Philip had transferred the regency of the Netherlands from Margaret of Parma, was the signal to William of the coming contest. He avoided the tragical fate of Egmont and Horn by retiring for a few months to his paternal domains in Nassau. The cruelties of Alva to the Protestants of the Netherlands, his own wrongs, and perhaps political more than religious motives aroused William, ill 1568, to an energetic course of opposition to the tyranny of Spain, which did not cease until triumph was complete. He published his Justification against the False Blame of his Calumniators, and began, in concert with the Protestant princes of Germany, to raise money and troops. His first operations miscarried. He was driven back with his army of 30,000 men into French Flanders; and in the spring of 1569 he, and his brothers Louis and Henry, with 1200 of his soldiers, joined the Huguenots under Coligni. Then again in 1572, after various successful engagements, in which he had had command of an army of 24,000 troops, he was compelled to disband it on account of the loss of all hope of assistance from France. In 1576 William secured the famous Union of Utrecht, which formed the basis of the Dutch republic. This union included the seven Protestant provinces of Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Friesland, Groningen, Overyssel, and Guelderland As soon as this measure became known to Philip, he offered a reward of 25,000 crowns and a patent of nobility for his assassination. Once he was dangerously wounded, but the task was finally undertaken by Balthazar Gerard, a Burgundian fanatic, who obtained audience with the stadtholder on pretence of business, drew a pistol, and shot him through the body, at Delft, July 10, 1584. See Motley, The. Rise of the Dutch Republic (N. Y. 1856, 3 vols.); Klose, Wilhelm I von Oranien (Leips. 1864); Herrmann, Wilhehl, von Oranien (Stuttig. 1873); Gachanrd, Correspondence de Guillaume le Taciturne (Brussels, 1847-56); and Juste, Guillaume le Taciturne d'apres sa Correspondance et les Papiers d'Etat.

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