The Assassination of William I, Prince of Orange AKA William the Silent

William The Silent Assassinated this day in 1585 Delft. Image is Not my own

William The Silent Assassinated this day in 1585 Delft. Image is Not my own

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of William I Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of Holland who was also known as William The silent. It was his assassination that would cause Elizabeth I to fear assignation by gun during the last decade and half of her reign.

The Dutch republic was in constantly engaged with spats and small wars with Catholic Europe namely France and Spain. As a fellow Protestant nation Elizabeth would have sought alliance with the Netherland and Dutch republics as subsequent protestant monarch after her did.

It was a supporter of Catholic Phillip II of Spain that would become William The Silent’s Assassin. The Spanish King and one time brother in law of Elizabeth I (widower of Elizabeth’s half sister Bloody Mary I) declared William an outlaw an outlaw and promised anyone who would kill the Prince a reward of 25,000 crowns.

A Frenchman and Spanish ally Balthasar Gerard took up the challenge issued by Phillip. He presented himself to the Dutch Prince as an ambassador from france. He was then sent back to France by William on Embassy business. Upon his return he came back to the Dutch republic and arranged to meet Prince William on 10th July at his home in Delft (the city that gives its name to pottery from the period and region)

Gerard shot the prince twice in the chest with Wheel Locked Pistols on his stair case after dinner. The Princes last words were:

Mon Dieu, ayez pitié de mon âme; mon Dieu, ayez pitié de ce pauvre peuple.

My God, have pity on my soul; my God, have pity on this poor people.

He was the first head of state to be assassinated by gun. The traditional place of burial for the house of Orange was Breda however at the time of his murder the city was held by the Spanish so he was buried in Delft.

The impact of his assignation would tighten security in England under Cecil and Walshingham against Elizabeth Is Catholic enemies. I could be argued that this was one of the events that made Walshingham more determined to eliminate Elizabeth Catholic cousin and rival Mary Queen Of Scots.

Williams Grandson was William of Orange, who married Mary Princess Mary Stuart, daughter of James II, who would eventually oust his father in Law from the British throne at the invitation of the English Parliament in the Glorious Revolution in 1688.

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One Response to The Assassination of William I, Prince of Orange AKA William the Silent

  1. Princess of Eboli History Masquerade says:

    I like this post !!!

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