René van Stipriaan
The Life of William of Orange
Winner of the Libris History Prize 2022 & the Dutch Biography Prize 2022
William of Orange (1544-1584) is credited with leading his country to independence from the Spanish Habsburgs. This proved to be a long, bitter struggle, typified by cruel massacres throughout the Low Countries, which only strengthened the resolve of his fanatical Protestant and Catholic supporters.
What drove Orange? He was certainly no saint and was less popular in his time than is commonly believed. In this monumental work, René van Stipriaan unravels the dizzying career of one of the most uncompromising figures in world history: his ambitions and manipulations, his successes and defeats – until his assassination. Orange’s life is compelling without being romanticised, or as the Libris Prize jury wrote: ‘Van Stipriaan sketches a man who was constantly in danger of being crushed by all the conflicts he was also involved in, but who survived time and again, by opportunistic action, though luck too.’
The emergence of the Netherlands is also largely European history. Often in vain, Orange sought support from Lutheran German princes, England and France. The Silent is then both an intimate portrait of a complex man, and the turbulent age he lived in.