The Daughters of William the Silent – Anna of Nassau 1 & 2

(public domain)

The second marriage of William the Silent to Anna of Saxony produced a total of five children before their eventual separation. The first Anna was born on 31 October 1562 in Breda, but she died under a month later. Anna of Saxony spiralled into a deep depression after this, and this was not helped by the steady influx of congratulatory letters, which continued to come well into the next year. 1

Anna gave birth to a second daughter on 5 November 1563 in Breda, and this time the child survived. Unfortunately, the happy occasion did nothing to lift her mother’s spirits. In 1567, the little girl was sent to live in Dillenburg where she was to be raised by her grandmother Juliana of Stolberg. By then the family had been joined by two sons, of which just one survived to adulthood. Another sister, Emilia, would follow in 1569. Their mother later had an illegitimate daughter named Christine van Dietz. At Dillenburg, Anna met her future husband, William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. At the age of 13, she departed for Dordrecht where she lived with her stepmother Charlotte of Bourbon.

William Louis’s father objected to the match with Anna, mostly because the two were first cousins and because of her father’s many outstanding debts. William Louis wrote to his father that he had prayed to God to extinguish the flames of love if he did not approve of the marriage, but since this had not happened, it was apparently God’s will. His father at last consented. On 25 November 1587, the couple married in Franeker. Anna wore a silver dress with large flowers and French sleeves. They settled at Leeuwarden, and Anna quickly fell pregnant. She had a miscarriage at four months, which was followed by a growth in her womb. She seemed to rally at first but continued to have intermittent pains. Her last attack lasted eight hours, during which she suffered horrendous pains and could not speak. Shortly before midnight, she managed to utter the words, “Ach, Herr…”

She died on 13 June 1588 and had been married for just seven months. Apparently, she was already pregnant again. She was buried in the Grote Kerk in Leeuwarden. Her husband never remarried.2


  1. Ingrun Mann – Anna of Saxony p. 124
  2. Read more:

    Mr Dr. J.L.J. van de Kamp – Emanuel van Portugal en Emilia van Nassau p.143

About Moniek Bloks 2744 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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