Portrait of Maurice of Nassau (1567-1625), Prince of Orange (1618-1625), Stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland (1585-1625), Stadtholder of Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel (1590-1625), Stadtholder of Groningen (1620-1625), 1620
Maurice of Orange (Dutch: Maurits van Oranje) (14 November 1567 – 23 April 1625) was stadtholder of all the provinces of the Dutch Republic except for Friesland from 1585 at earliest until his death in 1625. Before he became Prince of Orange upon the death of his eldest half-brother Philip William in 1618, he was known as Maurice of Nassau. Maurice spent his youth in Dillenburg in Nassau, and studied in Heidelberg and Leiden. He succeeded his father William the Silent as stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland in 1585, and became stadtholder of Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel in 1590 and of Groningen in 1620. As Captain-General and Admiral of the Union, Maurice organised the Dutch rebellion against Spain into a coherent, successful revolt and won fame as a military strategist. Under his leadership and in cooperation with the Land's Advocate of Holland Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the Dutch States Army achieved many victories and drove the Spaniards out of the north and east of the Republic. Maurice set out to revive and revise the classical doctrines of Vegetius and pioneered the new European forms of armament and drill. During the Twelve Years' Truce, a religious dispute broke out in the Republic, and a conflict erupted between Maurice and Van Oldenbarnevelt, which ended with the latter's decapitation. After the Truce, Maurice failed to achieve more military victories. He died without legitimate children in The Hague in 1625, and was succeeded by his younger half-brother Frederick Henry. Maurice was a son of William the Silent and Princess Anna of Saxony and was born at the castle of Dillenburg. He was named after his maternal grandfather, the Elector Maurice of Saxony, who was also a noted general. Maurice never married but was the father of illegitimate children by Margaretha van Mechelen. Together with his cousin Willem Lodewijk he studied in Heidelberg and later in Leiden where he met Simon Stevin. The States of Holland and Zeeland paid for his studies, as their father had run into financial problems after spending his entire fortune in the early stages of the Dutch revolt. Only 16 when his father was murdered in Delft in 1584, he soon took over as stadtholder (Stadhouder), though this title was not inheritable. The monarchs of England and France had been requested to accept sovereignty, but had refused. This had left Maurice as the only acceptable candidate for the position of Stadtholder. He became stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland in 1585, of Guelders, Overijssel and Utrecht in 1590 and of Groningen and Drenthe in 1620 (following the death of Willem Lodewijk, who had been Stadtholder there and in Friesland). Protestant Maurice was preceded as Prince of Orange (not a Dutch title) by his Roman Catholic eldest half-brother Philip William, Prince of Orange, deceased 1618. However, Philip William was in the custody of Spain, remaining so until 1596, and was thus unable to lead the Dutch independence cause. He was appointed captain-general of the army in 1587, bypassing the Earl of Leicester, who returned to England on hearing this news. Maurice organised the rebellion against Spain into a coherent, successful revolt. He reorganised the Dutch States Army together with Willem Lodewijk, studied military history, strategy and tactics, mathematics and astronomy, and proved himself to be among the best strategists of his age. The Eighty Years' War was a challenge to his style, so he could prove himself a good leader by taking several Spanish Outposts. Paying special attention to the siege theories of Simon Stevin, he took valuable key fortresses and towns during a period known as the Ten Glory Years. These victories rounded out the borders to the Dutch Republic, solidifying the revolt and allowing a national state to develop behind secure borders. They also established Maurice as the foremost general of his time. Many of the great generals of the succeeding generation, including his brother Frederick Henry and many of the commanders of the English Civil War learned their trade under his command.
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