The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun (Making History)

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9780060838355: The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun (Making History)

The assassination of Prince William of Orange by a French Catholic in 1584 had immediate political consequences and a profound effect on the course of history. It was a serious setback for Protestants in the Netherlands, who were struggling for independence from the Catholic rule of the Hapsburg Empire. But the crime's ramifications were even more earth-shattering, for it heralded the arrival of a new threat to the safety of world leaders and the security of nations: a pistol that could easily be concealed on one's person and employed to lethal effect at point-blank range.

In this provocative, fascinating, and enormously engaging work, noted author and historian Lisa Jardine brilliantly recounts the brazen act of religious terrorism that changed everything—and explores its long and bloody legacy, from the murder of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 to the slaying of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, to the plague of terror and violent zealotry that infects our world today.

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About the Author:

Lisa Jardine, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, is the director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, the centenary professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She lives with her husband and three children in London.

From Publishers Weekly:

William the Silent may be an obscure name for many readers, but his assassination in 1584, at close range with a handgun, is still remembered in the Netherlands as a key event in the long Dutch struggle for independence from Spain. Born to a German family, William inherited a French principality and was raised under the tutelage of the Catholic Emperor Charles V, yet became the "father" of Netherlands Protestant national identity. Jardine (The Curious Life of Robert Hooke) places the assassination within the era's religious turmoil and espionage systems, arguing for its deep repercussions for security, diplomacy and warfare. Her scholarship is broad, as she dissects William's lasting reputation for tolerance as a product of the writings of his supporters and traces the technology, uses and symbolism of the wheel-lock pistol used to kill him. With modern references including 9/11, fatwahs and Tupac Shakur, Jardine demonstrates the pervasiveness of the issues raised both by this type of weapon and by responses to crimes of state. Some readers might wish for a more narrative approach to such a potentially riveting story, but they will enjoy this marvelous study of a single event and its numerous echoes. (Feb. 7)
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