Dutch etiquette for dating
It has been claimed that during the gruesome torture of Balthasar Gérard (the assassin of William of Orange) in 1584, the song was sung by the guards who sought to overpower Gérard's screams when boiling pigs' fat was poured over him. Therefore, the fortunes of the song paralleled those of the Orangist faction.
Trumpets played the "Wilhelmus" when Prince Maurits visited Breda, and again when he was received in state in Amsterdam in May 1618.
When William V arrived in Schoonhoven in 1787, after the authority of the stadholders had been restored, the church bells are said to have played the "Wilhelmus" continuously.
After the Batavian Revolution, inspired by the French Revolution, it had come to be called the "Princes' March" as it was banned during the rule of the Patriots, who did not support the House of Orange-Nassau.
However, at the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1813, the "Wilhelmus" had fallen out of favour.
Having become monarchs with a claim to represent the entire nation and stand above factions, the House of Orange decided to break with the song which served them as heads of a faction, and the "Wilhelmus" was hence replaced by Hendrik Tollens' song Wien Neêrlands bloed door d'aderen vloeit, which was the official Dutch anthem from 1815 till 1932.
But most probably it is simply a reference to the broader meaning of the word, which points out William as a ''native'' of the fatherland, as appose to the king of Spain, who was seldom or not in the Netherlands. Another legend claims that following the Navigation Acts (a 1651 ordinance by Oliver Cromwell requiring all foreign fleets in the North Sea or the Channel to dip their flag in salute) the "Wilhelmus" was sung (or rather, shouted) by the sailors on the Dutch flagship Brederode in response to the first warning shot fired by an English fleet under Robert Blake, when their captain Maarten Tromp refused to lower his flag.
The prince thus states that his roots are Germanic rather than Romance – in spite of his being Prince of Orange as well. At the end of the song, which coincided with the third (i.e.
The current official version is the 1932 arrangement by Walther Boer. Soon after the anthem was finished it was said that either Philips of Marnix, a writer, statesman and former mayor of Antwerp, or Dirck Coornhert, a politician and theologian, wrote the lyrics.
It tells of the Father of the Nation William of Orange who was stadholder in the Netherlands under the King of Spain.
In the first person, as if quoting himself, William speaks to the Dutch people about both the revolt and his own, personal struggle: to be faithful to the king, without being unfaithful to his conscience: to serve God and the Dutch people.
A French translation of the "Wilhelmus" appeared around 1582.
Dutch and Flemish researchers (Meertens Institute, Utrecht University and University of Antwerp) discovered by chance a striking number of similarities between his style and the style of the national anthem. The anthem is an acrostic: the first letters of the fifteen stanzas formed the name 'Willem van Nassov' (Nassov was a contemporary orthographic variant of Nassau).