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William I, Prince of Orange, also widely known as William the Silent (Dutch: Willem de Zwijger), or simply William of Orange (Dutch: Willem van Oranje), was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years' War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648. He was born into the House of Nassau as a count of Nassau-Dillenburg. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau. A wealthy nobleman, William originally served the Habsburgs as a member of the court of Margaret of Parma, governor of the Spanish Netherlands. Unhappy with the centralisation of political power away from the local estates and with the Spanish persecution of Dutch Protestants, William joined the Dutch uprising and turned against his former masters. The most influential and politically capable of the rebels, he led the Dutch to several successes in the fight against the Spanish. Declared an outlaw by the Spanish king in 1580, he was assassinated by Balthasar Gérard (also written as 'Gerardts') in Delft four years later. William explained his conflict with king Philip II to the Council of State in the following way: "I can not approve that monarchs desire to rule over the conscience of their subjects and take away from them their freedom of belief and religion." (Dutch: Ik kan niet goedkeuren dat vorsten over het geweten van hun onderdanen willen heersen en hun de vrijheid van geloof en godsdienst ontnemen.)
 
 
William I, Prince of Orange, also widely known as William the Silent (Dutch: Willem de Zwijger), or simply William of Orange (Dutch: Willem van Oranje), was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years' War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648. He was born into the House of Nassau as a count of Nassau-Dillenburg. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau. A wealthy nobleman, William originally served the Habsburgs as a member of the court of Margaret of Parma, governor of the Spanish Netherlands. Unhappy with the centralisation of political power away from the local estates and with the Spanish persecution of Dutch Protestants, William joined the Dutch uprising and turned against his former masters. The most influential and politically capable of the rebels, he led the Dutch to several successes in the fight against the Spanish. Declared an outlaw by the Spanish king in 1580, he was assassinated by Balthasar Gérard (also written as 'Gerardts') in Delft four years later. William explained his conflict with king Philip II to the Council of State in the following way: "I can not approve that monarchs desire to rule over the conscience of their subjects and take away from them their freedom of belief and religion." (Dutch: Ik kan niet goedkeuren dat vorsten over het geweten van hun onderdanen willen heersen en hun de vrijheid van geloof en godsdienst ontnemen.) More

 
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