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Frederick Henry

Frederick Henry, 1584–1647, prince of Orange; son of William the Silent by Louise de Coligny. He became stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands upon the death (1625) of his brother Maurice of Nassau. As a minor prince heading a federation of oligarchic republics, Frederick allied himself with other minor members and the puritans in order to maintain control during the Netherlands' struggle for independence from Spain. An able diplomat, he gained a subsidy from France to continue fighting, and allied with the British King Charles I by marrying his son, William, to Charles's daughter, Mary. In 1635 he concluded an alliance with France and Sweden against the Hapsburgs in the Thirty Years War. By the capture of the frontier forts of Hertogenbosch (1629), Maastricht (1632), and Breda (1637), he became famous as a master of siegecraft. In 1631 the United Provinces showed their trust in his leadership by declaring the stadtholderate hereditary in his family. One year after his death the independence of the Netherlands was recognized in the Peace of Westphalia. His son, William II, succeeded him as stadtholder.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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