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This Week In History

Maurice of Nassau – November 1, 1582 AD

Upon the death in 1618 of his eldest half-brother, Philip William, Prince of Orange, Maurice of Nassau, the son of William of Orange, he became the new sovereign Prince of Orange. However, well before that event, Maurice was already well-versed in military and government affairs. He became the governor of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht on November 1, 1582. This is a category of  silver coins.

Maurice of Nassau

Maurice was born to William the Silent and Princess Anna of Saxony in 1567. He was named after his maternal grandfather, the Elector Maurice of Saxony, who was an accomplished general. His father was murdered in 1584 and he took over as the “stadtholder” or steward of the state of Holland and Zeeland. William of Orange was the leader of the successful Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Empire. In 1587, Maurice was appointed captain-general of the army.

Maurice took over where his father left off and organized the rebellion into a full-fledged revolt against Spain. He reorganized the Dutch States Army and changed the way generals and their troops trained. He studied tactics, mathematics, history, strategy and astronomy to develop his style of military management and proved himself a worthy leader. He started by capturing Breda in 1590 and continued to take key forts and towns through the next ten years, establishing a safe Dutch border behind which the state could finish developing and asserting its independence from Spain.

Besides changing how the troops were trained by having the generals interact more closely in smaller groups, Maurice also introduced the strategy of volley fire. To compensate for the inaccuracy of their weaponry, the volley fire accomplished defeating targets through sheer numbers. This was first used at the Battle of Nieuwpoort in 1600.

Maurice went on to found a new school of military practice, along with continuing the fight against Spain. From 1618 until his death, he had full power over the Dutch Republic. Previously, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was Land’s Advocate for the States of Holland and signed a peace treaty with Spain that lasted from 1609-1621. The war against Spain resumed in 1621 and Maurice died in 1625 during the siege of Breda, where the Spanish would finally take the city two months after his death.

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