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The Awful End of Prince William the Silent


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About the Author

Lisa Jardine, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, is the director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, the centenary professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She lives with her husband and three children in London.


William the Silent may be an obscure name for many readers, but his assassination in 1584, at close range with a handgun, is still remembered in the Netherlands as a key event in the long Dutch struggle for independence from Spain. Born to a German family, William inherited a French principality and was raised under the tutelage of the Catholic Emperor Charles V, yet became the "father" of Netherlands Protestant national identity. Jardine (The Curious Life of Robert Hooke) places the assassination within the era's religious turmoil and espionage systems, arguing for its deep repercussions for security, diplomacy and warfare. Her scholarship is broad, as she dissects William's lasting reputation for tolerance as a product of the writings of his supporters and traces the technology, uses and symbolism of the wheel-lock pistol used to kill him. With modern references including 9/11, fatwahs and Tupac Shakur, Jardine demonstrates the pervasiveness of the issues raised both by this type of weapon and by responses to crimes of state. Some readers might wish for a more narrative approach to such a potentially riveting story, but they will enjoy this marvelous study of a single event and its numerous echoes. (Feb. 7) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

William I, Prince of Orange (1533-84), known as William the Silent, was a German-born Dutch statesman who, raised a Catholic by order of the Holy Roman Emperor, converted to Protestantism, drove Spain out of the Netherlands, and is credited thus as the founder of Dutch independence. Jardine (Renaissance studies, Queen Mary University, London; The Curious Life of Robert Hooke), seeing that William I is little known in history books outside of Holland, has provided a fascinating account of his place in history: he was the first head of state to be assassinated by a person able to approach him at point-blank range with a concealed and primed weapon, an act that struck terror into the hearts of other heads of state, especially his Protestant ally Queen Elizabeth I. Jardine deftly and efficiently places this event in the political, religious, social, and cultural context of its times. Illustrations, a map, and a genealogical table, together with endnotes make it a worthy study. Her final summary, using Bob Dylan lyrics as the epigraph, ponders the handgun violence that permeates the world today. Recommended for history and handgun sections in public and academic libraries.-Br. Benet Exton, St. Gregory's Univ., Shawnee, OK Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"A lively account of an important historical turning point . . . Thorough and well written."--Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
"Nobody can explain factual history more clearly than Jardine, but the best part of this book concerns more abstract implications."--Jan Morris, The Times (London)
"Brief, pithy and fascinating... Jardine does justice to an intriguing topic, and the book reads as scholarly without being pedantic."--Omaha World-Herald
"Brisk and splendidly told . . . Jardine's book is popular narrative at its best--quick, sure, detailed and broadly entertaining."--Newsday
"Jardine writes with fluid precision and offers many dashes of historical color."--Wall Street Journal
"A fascinating, amusing, scholarly little book... I was absolutely charmed by this book."--Washington Post
"A fascinating account... Deftly and efficiently places this event in the political, religious, social, and cultural context of its times."--Library Journal
"[A] marvelous study of a single event and its numerous echoes."--Publishers Weekly

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