William the Silent, father of the Netherlands, believed that “The mind and soul are not in the keeping of king nor priest—no man has a lordship over another man’s conscience. All history has proved that.”
Through the eyes of a Renee, a waiting-woman, Marjorie Bowen paints the heroic life of William the Silent, Prince of Orange against the backdrop of splendor, intrigue, persecution, and war that characterized Europe in the mid-1500’s.
Prince and Heretic: A Novel on William the Silent, Prince of Orange Nassau, Volume 1
Renee, an attendant of William’s wife, the unbalanced Anne of Saxony, is herself an orphan of persecution. She and many others depend on William to defend them against the atrocities of the Spanish king Phillip II. While his home life disintegrates and his followers foolishly taunt the authorities, William of Orange and his brothers shoulder the immense burden of caring for the harassed people of the Low Countries. William loses all for the cause, but it seems that his sacrifice is in vain.
William, by the Grace of God: A Novel on William the Silent, Prince of Orange Nassau, Volume 2
William, poverty stricken and in disguise for fear of Philip’s agents, returns to Germany where he encounters Renee, now serving Princess Charlotte de Bourbon, a runaway abbess. Constantly struggling to protect the oppressed people of the Netherlands and encouraged by supporters such as Renee and Princess Charlotte, William finally begins to see results of his efforts. As the news of the St. Bartholomew’s Eve massacre and Philip’s increasing cruelty reaches them, the Dutch rally to their leader. Although Philip puts a price on his head, William seems indestructible and his work progresses despite staggering losses. He marries the gentle Charlotte and finds happiness until the next great tragedy strikes. Will William succeed in giving the Netherlands a stable beginning before Philip’ assassins find him?
With painstaking attention to historical detail, sumptuous descriptions, thoroughly human characters, and a fast-paced story, Marjorie Bowen draws us into the life of one of the world’s great heroes. The author’s sympathies are obviously with William himself and, rather than choosing sides in the religious struggles, she seems to espouse the tolerance that her hero sacrificed all for. I highly recommend both Prince and Heretic and William, by the Grace of God as absorbing novels and as fascinating history.
About the Author
Marjorie Bowen was a prolific and popular British author in the early 1900’s. Although she wrote in many genres, the bulk of her writing focused on history: historical romances, popular history, and biography.
Both Prince and Heretic and William, by the Grace of God are available from Inheritance Publications.
Disclosure I received a free review copy of these books in order to share my honest opinions.
These are my 13th and 14th books in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge.