A brilliantly detailed and gripping account of the assassination in 1584 of Prince William of Orange, and the shockwaves it sent through an age. The illustrious Making History Series, edited by Lisa Jardine and Amanda Foreman, explores an eclectic mix of history's tipping points. Here, the most eminent of guest writers have been invited to ...
A brilliantly detailed and gripping account of the assassination in 1584 of Prince William of Orange, and the shockwaves it sent through an age. The illustrious Making History Series, edited by Lisa Jardine and Amanda Foreman, explores an eclectic mix of history's tipping points. Here, the most eminent of guest writers have been invited to present a subject closest to their heart, presenting the grand theatre of the past in a collection of inventive and provocative essays. The series awakens fresh interest in subjects long before us -- the decline of Aztec Empire, Waterloo, Nuremberg -- as well as uncovering the seemingly quiet moments of chance which turned subsequent events on their head. In The Awful End of Prince William the Silent, series editor Lisa Jardine explores the historical ramifications of just such a instance, the first assassination of a head of state with a hand-held gun. The shooting of Prince William of Orange in the hallway of his Delft residence in July 1584 by a French catholic -- the second attempt on his life -- had immediate political consequences: it was a serious setback for the Protestant cause in the Netherlands, as its forces fought for independence from the Catholic rule of the Hapsburg empire. But, as Jardine brilliantly illustrates, its implications for those in positions of power were even more far-reaching, as the assassination brutally and irrevocably heralded the arrival of a lethal new threat to the security of nations -- a pistol that could be concealed and used to deadly effect at point-blank range. Queen Elizabeth I, William's close Protestant ally, was devastated by his death and, being the subject of assassination plots herself, thrown into panic; in the aftermath of William's death, legislation was enacted in the English parliament making it an offence to bring a pistol anywhere near a royal palace. Elizabeth's terror was not misplaced -- as Jardine observes, this assassination was the first in a long and bloody line that would take in those of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 and is all too relevant today.
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-11-14 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.
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