William the Silent or William I, Prince of Orange married four times and had issue by all four of his wives. From a total of 15 children, there were 11 daughters. This series will follow their, in some cases rather short, lives. William the Silent’s first wife was Anne of Egmont, who during their seven-year marriage gave birth to two daughters and a son.
Both daughters were named Maria, the younger named for the elder who died in infancy. The first Maria of Nassau was born on 22 November 1553 and was baptised in Breda on 12 December 1553. She died in infancy, around 1555, and is buried in the Church of Our Lady in Breda with her mother.
The second Maria, nicknamed Mayke in the family, was born on 7 February 1556. Her mother died when she was just two years old, and her father remarried to Anna of Saxony in 1561. She lived at her father’s court until the age of nine and then continued her education at the court of Margaret of Parma. She was released into her father’s custody in 1567, and she joined him in exile in Germany. Maria’s brother Philip William was arrested and sent to Spain as a hostage. For the next ten years, Maria lived with uncle Johann VI, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. She also cared for her younger half-sisters Anna and Emilia, who were born from her father’s second marriage to Anna of Saxony. At the time several marriage offers were considered, but none came to fruition.
When her father died in 1584, Maria was suddenly in a bitter battle with her half-brother Maurice. Her elder brother Philip William was the rightful heir, but he was still a hostage in Spain, and Maria never stopped fighting for his rights. For a while, she had the full control of the family estates, but Maurice managed to win the rights to the larger part. Without an adequate financial arrangement, it seemed unlikely Maria could marry. Maria finally married on her 39th birthday in 1595, to a man named Count Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein. Despite their differences, Maurice attended the wedding. The year 1595 also saw the release of Philip William and Maria met him for the first in 28 years in Cleves.
Her husband fell ill with a serious illness that caused paralysis around 1604, and he finally died in 1606. They had adopted a nine-year-old girl, Margrita Maria von Daun, Countess of Falckenstein, shortly before his death. She spent the last years of her life in Buren and struggled with stomach pains and deafness. She died there on 10 October 1616.
Magrita went on to marry Walraven IV of Brederode, but the couple had no children. 1