Anonymous, Portrait medallion of Charlotte de Bourbon, 1575-1600
An (aristocratic) marriage was concluded for very different reasons in the 16th century from now. Such a tie was not a private matter, but a social event in which power, politics and economic considerations played an important role. Love was usually completely irrelevant.

William’s first wife (1551-1558) was the rich Anna van Egmond (1533-1558), who came from a family with good ties to Hapsburg families. Anna's estates, including the county of Buren, increased William’s wealth considerably, although he would not inherit them. After Anna van Egmond's death he proposed to Anna of Saxony (1544-1577) in 1561. Anna’s uncle, Elector August of Saxony, was the most powerful and richest ruler in the Holy Roman Empire, and with this marriage William was seeking to strengthen his position within the Empire. William and Anna of Saxony did not have a good relationship. When William received no support from the Holy Roman Empire in his battle against the Spanish king, Anna was no longer of any use to him. He had the marriage annulled.

The Prince sought French support and married Charlotte de Bourbon (1546-1582) in Brielle’s St Catharine’s Church (Sint-Catharijnekerk) on 12 June 1575. This marriage gave him access to the highest circles in France and to much-needed French support for the Uprising. After Charlotte died in 1582, William continued to strive for French political and military support from the Netherlands. He married Louise de Coligny (1555-1620) a year later. She was the daughter of the Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny.
Within a year of the wedding William was assassinated in the Prinsenhof in Delft on 10 July 1584. Louise witnessed the assassination, as did William’s sister Catharina. The widow was left with her six-month-old son Frederik Hendrik and Charlotte’s four young daughters.

In the national year of commemoration of the Uprising, the Eighty Years’ War, Brielle Historical Museum is organising an exhibition about William of Orange and the women in his life.
Read more here