History of Holland > Famous Dutch people > Maurice of Nassau

Maurice of Nassau

Maurice of NassauMaurice of Nassau (Maurits van Nassau) was born on 14 November 1567 as son of Willem of Nassau and Princess Anna of Saxony, at the castle of Dillenburg (Germany). Maurice was raised in Dillenburg by his uncle Johan of Nassau (Jan the Old), lateron his life he studied in Heidelberg (Germany) and in Leiden.

The year following the murder on his father, Maurice was elected stadtholder in his stead. Under his presidency (1585-1625) the power and wealth of the Republic rapidly increased, active hostilities were frequently undertaken against the Spaniards, and the Dutch East India Company was formed (1602). Meanwhile, however, there arose serious dissensions between the democratic and the government parties, which were greatly aggravated by the pernicious theological controversies of the Arminians and the Gomarists.

Contrary to the sound advice of the stadtholder Maurice, John van Oldenbarnevelt, Grand pensionary or chancellor of Holland, concluded a twelve years' peace with Spain in 1609. Incensed by the quarrels which now ensued, Maurice caused Oldenbarnevelt, then in his 72nd year, to be arrested and condemned to death by a partial tribunal in 1618, but by this judicial murder he did not succeed in intimidating his refractory subjects.

Maurice died in 1625, and was succeeded by his brother Frederick Henry (1625-1647), under whom the unity of the Republic became more consolidated, and the prosperity of the States reached its climax.