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William the Silent

William the Silent (1533-84). Dutch soldier and states-man, the founder of the Dutch Republic. He became prince of Orange in 1544 and in 1559 he was appointed governor of Holland; Zeeland, and Utrecht by Philip II of Spain. Later, however, he led a movement against Spanish rule and Philip’s persecution of Protestants (1568-76). Under his leadership the seven northern Dutch provinces declared their independence from Spain (1581). William was assassinated by a Catholic fanatic.

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