Posted in Famous Last Words on Sunday, 20 February 2011
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William I was a wealthy nobleman who came to office as Prince of Orange at the age of 11 in 1544.
A popular politician, he was part of the Dutch resistance against Spanish rule and, after being declared an outlaw in 1567 he was reinstated as stadtholder in 1672. Battles continued to be fought for Dutch lands for the rest of William’s life (it became known as the Eighty Years’ War).
After a formal declaration of independence in 1581 an assassination was attempted, although Willam survived. He did not survive a second attempt, by Balthasar Gerard, a French catholic supporter of Philip II of Spain. Balthazar met William at his home in Deft and shot him in the chest at close range. William’s last words were “Mon Dieu, ayez pitié de mon âme; mon Dieu, ayez pitié de ce pauvre peuple”…
“My God, have pity on my soul; my God, have pity on this poor people.”
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