1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Frederick Henry

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FREDERICK HENRY (1584–1647), prince of Orange, the youngest child of William the Silent, was born at Delft about six months before his father’s assassination on the 29th of January 1584. His mother, Louise de Coligny, was daughter of the famous Huguenot leader, Admiral de Coligny, and was the fourth wife of William the Silent. The boy was trained to arms by his elder brother, Maurice of Nassau, one of the first generals of his age. On the death of Maurice in 1625, Frederick Henry succeeded him in his paternal dignities and estates, and also in the stadtholderates of the five provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overysel and Gelderland, and in the important posts of captain and admiral-general of the Union. Frederick Henry proved himself scarcely inferior to his brother as a general, and a far more capable statesman and politician. During twenty-two years he remained at the head of affairs in the United Provinces, and in his time the power of the stadtholderate reached its highest point. The “Period of Frederick Henry,” as it is usually styled by Dutch writers, is generally accounted the golden age of the republic. It was marked by great military and naval triumphs, by world-wide maritime and commercial expansion, and by a wonderful outburst of activity in the domains of art and literature. The chief military exploits of Frederick Henry were the sieges and captures of Hertogenbosch in 1629, of Maastricht in 1632, of Breda in 1637, of Sas van Ghent in 1644, and of Hulst in 1645. During the greater part of his administration the alliance with France against Spain had been the pivot of Frederick Henry’s foreign policy, but in his last years he sacrificed the French alliance for the sake of concluding a separate peace with Spain, by which the United Provinces obtained from that power all the advantages for which they had for eighty years been contending. Frederick Henry died on the 14th of March 1647, and was buried with great pomp beside his father and brother at Delft. The treaty of Münster, ending the long struggle between the Dutch and the Spaniards, was not actually signed until the 30th of January 1648, the illness and death of the stadtholder having caused a delay in the negotiations. Frederick Henry was married in 1625 to Amalia von Solms, and left one son, William II. of Orange, and four daughters.

Frederick Henry left an account of his campaigns in his Mémoires de Frédéric Henri (Amsterdam, 1743). See Cambridge Mod. Hist. vol. iv. chap. 24, and the bibliography on p. 931.