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Maurice of Nassau

Born: 13-Nov-1567
Birthplace: Dillenburg, Nassau
Died: 23-Apr-1625
Location of death: The Hague, Netherlands
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Royalty

Nationality: Netherlands
Executive summary: Prince of Orange

Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, the second son of William the Silent, by Anna, only daughter of the famous Maurice, elector of Saxony, was born at Dillenburg. At the time of his father's assassination in 1584 he was being educated at the University of Leiden, at the expense of the states of Holland and Zeeland. Despite his youth he was made stadtholder of those two provinces and president of the council of state. During the period of Leicester's governorship he remained in the background, engaged in acquiring a thorough knowledge of the military art, and in 1586 the States of Holland conferred upon him the title of prince. On the withdrawal of Leicester from the Netherlands in August 1587, Johan van Oldenbarneveldt, the advocate of Holland, became the leading statesman of the country, a position which he retained for upwards of thirty years. He had been a devoted adherent of William the Silent and he now used his influence to forward the interests of Maurice. In 1588 he was appointed by the States-General captain and admiral-general of the Union, in 1590 he was elected stadtholder of Utrecht and Overysel, and in 1591 of Gelderland. From this time forward, Oldenbarneveldt at the head of the civil government and Maurice in command of the armed forces of the republic worked together in the task of rescuing the United Netherlands from Spanish domination. Maurice soon showed himself to be a general second in skill to none of his contemporaries. He was especially famed for his consummate knowledge of the science of sieges. The twelve years' truce on the 9th of April 1609 brought to an end the cordial relations between Maurice and Oldenbarneveldt. Maurice was opposed to the truce, but the advocate's policy triumphed and henceforward there was enmity between them. The theological disputes between the Remonstrants and contra-Remonstrants found them on different sides; and the theological quarrel soon became a political one. Oldenbarneveldt, supported by the states of Holland, came forward as the champion of provincial sovereignty against that of the states-general; Maurice threw the weight of his sword on the side of the union. The struggle was a short one, for the army obeyed the general who had so often led them to victory. Oldenbarneveldt perished on the scaffold, and the share which Maurice had in securing the illegal condemnation by a packed court of judges of the aged patriot must ever remain a stain upon his memory.

Maurice, who had on the death of his elder brother Philip William, in February 1618, become Prince of Orange, was now supreme in the state, but during the remainder of his life he sorely missed the wise counsels of the experienced Oldenbarneveldt. War broke out again in 1621, but success had ceased to accompany him on his campaigns. His health gave way, and he died, a prematurely aged man, at the Hague on the 4th of April 1625. He was buried by his father's side at Delft.

Father: William the Silent (d. 1584 assassination)
Mother: Anna

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