Anna of Buren was born around March 1533 as the daughter of Maximilian van Egmond and Françoise de Lannoy. She would be their only child, and she was thus the heiress to her father’s estates. Her father was an ally of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and as such he was often away on campaign.
Anna grew up in the world that was centred around the court of Mary of Hungary in Brussels. She spoke the language of the Brussels court, which was French, but she also spoke Dutch. Her father’s death came quite suddenly in 1548. She was probably quite unprepared for the managing of her vast estates. She was just 15 years old and was now Countess of Buren and Lady of Egmond, Countess of Lingen and Leerdam, and Lady of IJsselstein, of Borssele, of Grave, of Cranendonck, of Jaarsveld, of Kortgene, of Sint Maartensdijk, and Odijk. All in all, she was quite the catch.
When her father was on his deathbed – supposedly in full armour – he toasted to the health of the Holy Roman Emperor, and he had the state of mind to arrange his daughter’s marriage to William, Prince of Orange. He was also known as William the Silent, and he later became the main leader of the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs. Their wedding took place on 8 July 1551 in Buren. William and Anna settled in the castle of Breda, where their three children were born.
Their first child Maria, named for Mary of Hungary, was born in 1553 but she died the next year. A son named Philip William was born in 1554, followed by another Maria in 1556.
Anna was alone quite a bit. William was often at the court in Brussels or on campaign. Anna was requested to come to Brussels only once when King Philip II of Spain was to come there. She was good at managing the couple’s estates as William commended her actions in several of his letters. None of Anna’s responses have survived.
She was supposed to accompany her husband to Dillenburg in early 1558, but Anna became ill. We don’t know exactly what Anna suffered from, but she died in Breda on 24 March 1558. She was still only 25 years old. She was buried in the Church of Our Lady in Breda, together with her firstborn daughter Maria. William went on the marry three more times.
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