Frederick Henry, Prince of OrangeFrederick Henry (January 29, 1584 - March 14, 1647), prince of Orange, the youngest child of William the Silent, was born at Delft about six months before his father's assassination.
His mother, Louise de Coligny, was daughter of the famous Huguenot leader, Admiral de Coligny, and was the fourth wife of William the Silent. The boy was trained to arms by his elder brother, Maurice of Nassau, one of the first generals of his age. On the death of Maurice in 1625, Frederick Henry succeeded him in his paternal dignities and estates, and also in the stadtholderates of the five provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overijssel and Gelderland, and in the important posts of captain and admiral-general of the Union.
Frederick Henry proved himself almost as good a general as his brother, and a far more capable statesman and politician. For twenty-two years he remained at the head of government in the United Provinces, and in his time the power of the stadtholderate reached its highest point. The "Period of Frederick Henry," as it is usually styled by Dutch writers, is generally accounted the golden age of the republic. It was marked by great military and naval triumphs, by world-wide maritime and commercial expansion, and by a wonderful outburst of activity in the domains of art and literature.
The chief military exploits of Frederick Henry were the sieges and captures of 's Hertogenbosch in 1629, of Maastricht in 1632, of Breda in 1637, of Sas van Gent in 1644, and of Hulst in 1645. During the greater part of his administration the alliance with France against Spain had been the pivot of Frederick Henry's foreign policy, but in his last years he sacrificed the French alliance for the sake of concluding a separate peace with Spain, by which the United Provinces obtained from that power all the advantages they had been seeking for eighty years.
Frederick Henry was married in 1625 to Amalia von Solms, and left one son, William II of Orange, and four daughters.
On Frederick Henry's death, he was buried with great pomp beside his father and brother at Delft. The treaty of Munster, ending the long struggle between the Dutch and the Spaniards, was not actually signed until January 30, 1648, the illness and death of the stadtholder having caused a delay in the negotiations. Frederick Henry left an account of his campaigns in his Mémoires de Frédéric Henri (Amsterdam, 1743). See Cambridge Mod. Hist. vol. iv. chap. 24.