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The Awful End of Prince William the Silent

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A brilliantly detailed and gripping account of the assassination in 1584 of Prince William of Orange, and the shockwaves it sent through an age. / Lisa Jardine is an extremely highly respected, high-profile figure in the media and one of the UK's foremost historical biographers. / 'The Awful End of Prince William the Silent' is part of the new Making History Series which aims to awaken fresh interest in subjects as varied as the decline of Aztec Empire, Waterloo, Nuremberg, as well as uncovering the seemingly quiet moments of chance which turned subsequent events on their head.

About the Author

Lisa Jardine is Professor of Renaissance Studies at QMW, London and honorary fellow of King's College, Cambridge. She writes regularly for the UK's major national newspapers in addition to appearing on many arts/history programmes for TV and radio. She has judged the Whitbread Prize, the Guardian First Book Award, was chair of the 1997 Orange Prize. Her previous books include On a Grander Scale and The Curious Life of Robert Hooke. She is married with three children and lives in London.


William I, Prince of Orange (1533-84), known as William the Silent, was a German-born Dutch statesman who, raised a Catholic by order of the Holy Roman Emperor, converted to Protestantism, drove Spain out of the Netherlands, and is credited thus as the founder of Dutch independence. Jardine (Renaissance studies, Queen Mary University, London; The Curious Life of Robert Hooke), seeing that William I is little known in history books outside of Holland, has provided a fascinating account of his place in history: he was the first head of state to be assassinated by a person able to approach him at point-blank range with a concealed and primed weapon, an act that struck terror into the hearts of other heads of state, especially his Protestant ally Queen Elizabeth I. Jardine deftly and efficiently places this event in the political, religious, social, and cultural context of its times. Illustrations, a map, and a genealogical table, together with endnotes make it a worthy study. Her final summary, using Bob Dylan lyrics as the epigraph, ponders the handgun violence that permeates the world today. Recommended for history and handgun sections in public and academic libraries.-Br. Benet Exton, St. Gregory's Univ., Shawnee, OK Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

'Jardine's book is masterly, because she captures in a snapshot the mood or ethos of the era. She draws on archives, literature, science and art to paint images as richly evocative as a Rembrandt. This is very much a book for our time.' Sunday Times 'An enthralling train ride of a book, light, swift and perfectly prepared!An engrossing spritely read.' Observer 'Lisa Jardine has written with her typical flair, the prehistory of our haunted obsession with the handgun'. Scotland on Sunday 'Recounts the events leading up to [Prince William's] death with concision and clarity.' Financial Times 'Lively and thought-provoking; the perfect length for an evening read.' Sunday Telegraph 'Nobody can explain factual history more clearly than Jardine.' The Times 'There is much that is good in it.' Spectator

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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