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William the Silent by C. V. Wedgwood

William the Silent (1944)

by C. V. Wedgwood

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1253144,400 (3.69)13



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When the Netherlands referred to much of the northwest corner of Europe (Holland, Friesland, Flanders, Luxembourg) it was ruled by the Spanish, and when the influences of the Reformation clashed with the ruling church, Willem of Nassau was forced to walk the fine line between obedience to his king, Philip, and his inclination to fairness, particularly to his subjects in the Netherlands. The hardening of mind of Philip led to serious persecution of people who wanted to profess a faith other than the Roman faith, and pushed William closer to his people. Once the 'North' was settled, it was the turn of the "South' - the latter was hard to win, and harder to maintain, and is now not part of the modern Netherlands.

The book is well written, although the style of writing is a bit old fashioned at times. It provides a through understanding of William, and also a great background to the formation of the Netherlands.

(A comment was made elsewhere about the quotations in a language other then English - they do not appear in my edition, at least not without a translation.) ( )
  robeik | May 13, 2014 |
A great biography that brings out the man, his personality, his family and Dynastic place as well as his political decisions. I was very surprised by how clear the writing was and how much of a feel you get for the Netherlands in the middle of the 1500's. My only complaints are minor, it's annoying when the writing is in English but many quotes are in their original language. Also this is primarily a political biography so there isn't much on his military campaigns.

A very solid 4 stars and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the period, no matter their level of knowledge. ( )
  bookmarkaussie | Jul 22, 2010 |

A very interesting and passionate biography of the leader of the successful Dutch revolt against Spanish rule in the mid-16th century. I had not appreciated how central present-day Belgium was to the Netherlands as a whole up until then: the capital at Brussels, the main trading port being Antwerp. And although there was always a gradient from Francophone to Dutch-speaking, and increasingly from Catholic to Protestant, as you go from south to north, it's easy to imagine how a slightly different set of historical circumstances could have led to a very different border between today's Netherlands and Belgium, or even no border at all; the military balance was always fragile, and local allegiances in the extensive boundary zone volatile.

Wedgwood's book was published in 1944, and there's clearly an implicit parallel between the Dutch fight against Spanish oppression and the second world war, with William the Silent being portrayed as an almost Churchillian figure; also, of course, his descendant Queen Wilhelmina, exiled in England and Canada during the war, would have been a well-known personality to the British reader of the time. I have to say that I felt a bit suspicious of Wedgwood's nuances on a couple of occasions, given the likely didactic intent of the book. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Nov 4, 2007 |
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Blinded, stunned, he did not doubt the murderer's success: 'I forgive him my death,' he gasped.
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Biography of William I, Prince of Orange, nicknamed William the Silent, the leader of the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule that set off the Eighty Years' War.
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