The First Assassination Of A Head Of State With A Hand-Gun.
A gripping account of the 1584 murder of Prince William of Orange - the first assassination of a Head of State with a hand-gun - and the shock waves it sent through an age.
The illustrious 'Making History' series, edited by Lisa Jardine and Amanda Foreman, explores an eclectic mix of history's tipping points. The most eminent of guest writers have been invited to present a subject close to their heart, resulting in a collection of inventive and provocative essays. The series awakens fresh interest in subjects long before us - the decline of the Aztec Empire, Waterloo, Nuremberg - as well as uncovering the seemingly quiet moments of chance which turned subsequent events on their head.
In 'The Awful End Of Prince William The Silent', series editor Lisa Jardine explores the July 1584 shooting of Prince William of Orange in the hallway of his Delft residence by a French catholic. The incident had immediate political consequences: it was a serious setback for the Protestant cause in the Netherlands, as its forces fought for independence from the Catholic rule of the Hapsburg empire. But, as Jardine brilliantly illustrates, its implications for those in positions of power were even more far-reaching, as the assassination brutally and irrevocably heralded the arrival of a lethal new threat to the security of nations - a pistol that could be concealed and used to deadly effect at point-blank range.
Queen Elizabeth I, William's close Protestant ally, was devastated by his death and, being the subject of assassination plots herself, was thrown into panic.
In the aftermath of William's death, legislation was enacted in the English parliament making it an offence to bring a pistol anywhere near a royal palace. Elizabeth's terror was not misplaced - as Jardine observes, this assassination was the first in a long and bloody line that would include Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 and is all too relevant today.