Dutch Willem known as William the Silent
born April 24, 1533, Dillenburg, Nassau
died July 10, 1584, Delft, Holland
First stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands (157284).
Son of William, count of Nassau-Dillenburg, he inherited the principality of Orange and other vast estates from his cousin in 1544. He was educated at the Habsburg imperial court in Brussels, then appointed by Philip II to the council of state (1555). He helped negotiate the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis , earning his byname for keeping silent about secret policy decisions, and was named stadtholder (governor) in Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht in 1559. Increasingly opposed to Philip's strict ordinances against Protestants, he led a revolt in 1568 that proved unsuccessful, but in 1572 he succeeded in uniting the northern provinces. He was proclaimed their stadtholder, and his position was solidified by the Pacification of Ghent (1576). He sought help from France in the revolt against Spain, and in 1579 he was outlawed by Philip. A reward was offered for his assassination, and in 1584 he was shot by a fanatical Catholic.