René van Stipriaan

The Silent

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.

‘A beautiful biography full of personal details and clear descriptions of the world in which William of Orange lived and acted.’

NRC Handelsblad

René van Stipriaan

René van Stipriaan is a historian specializing in Dutch history and a freelance journalist and commentator. He holds a doctorate on the subject of Dutch seventeenth-century theatre and edited the anthologies Eyewitnesses to World History (with Geert Mak) and Eyewitnesses to the Golden Century.

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De zwijger. Het leven van Willem van Oranje (2022). Non-fiction, 944 pages.



Weteringschans 259
NL - 1017 XJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 760 72 10

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