William of Knootcap
|Prince William of Knootcap|
Heinrich VII of Lavenrunz
Prince Maurice of Knootcap
Prince William of Knootcap was the main leader of the Knootian revolt against Lavenrunz which resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1608 with the Treaty of Hofburg. As the chief financer and political and military leader of the early years of the Knootian revolt, William is considered a national hero in Knootoss He was also the first Prince of the West and many old Knootian national symbols can be traced back to William of Knootcap, including the colour purple in the upper banner of the flag – which was part of his coat of arms.
William was born as the eldest son of a rich nobleman and was raised as a Protestant in the Dutch Reformed tradition. When both his parents died in the same year, the twelve-year-old orphan William inherited all of his father’s property, including the title ‘Prince of Knootcap’. Because of his young age, Karl Ludwig I (then emperor of Lavenrunz) served as regent until he was deemed fit to rule. The young boy was sent to Hofburg to receive a Catholic education. In Hofburg he received a military and diplomatic education while also learning foreign languages. He became known as a spoiled rich kid, who never failed to attend the many famous parties held by the Lavenrunzian court.
He married the wealthy daughter of a Knootian nobleman and thus earned the additional titles ‘Lord of Egmond and Count of Buren’. His wife was quite ugly and it is generally assumed that he only married her to gain more influence and wealth. Nevertheless, the pair had seven children including Maurice. Favoured by the Emperor, he made quick promotions, and became commander of one of the Imperial armies at age 22. He was also made a member of the Staten-Generaal just before Karl Ludwig abdicated in favour of Heinrich VII. Heinrich in turn appointed William as the stadtholder (governor) of the Western provinces of Knootoss.
William was, however, dissatisfied with the increasing persecution of Protestants in Knootoss. He had been brought up with both religions and was proponent of religious freedom. (while at the same time not being a very religious person in general) William soon became one of the most prominent members of the opposition in the Staten-Generaal, calling for religious freedom and more political power for the Knootian nobility while complaining that too many Lavenrunzians were involved in governing the provinces.
(This is all covered in the Knootian independence article which describes events up to 1581 including the reasons for the opposition. The section below will focus on the military exploits of William)
Start of the Knootian Revolt
As one of the more prominent and popular Knootians, William emerged as the leader of an armed resistance. He financed refugee Protestants who formed bands of corsairs which raided the coastal cities while also raising an army to fight the Duke of Carlsbad on land. He personally led an army which invaded the northern provinces and won an important battle against a Lavenrunzian army led by the stadtholder of these northern provinces, killing several important members of the Lavenrunzian nobility. The duke of Carlsbad killed a number of convicted noblemen in response and led an expedition to Friesland in the north. There, he annihilated Williams forces, although William himself managed to escape. These two battles are now considered to be the start of a war which would last forty years.
William responded by leading a large army into the Catholic south, but the duke of Carlsbad carefully avoided a confrontation, expecting the army to fall apart quickly. He proved to be right, as William lacked the money to support it.
Soon after, a band of protestant corsairs captured the city of Den Helder, which had been left unattended by the Lavenrunzian garrison. Contrary to their normal "hit and run" tactics, they occupied the town and claimed it for the prince. Other cities followed this move and soon most cities in western Knootoss were in the hands of the rebels (with the important exception of Amsterdam.) The rebel cities then called a meeting of the Staten-Generaal (which they were technically unqualified to do), and reinstated William as the stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland.
Rebel armies captured cities throughout the protestant north and west of the country (purple and brown on the map) while William himself advanced with his own army and marched into the Catholic south. (Yellow on the map.) After a successful Lavenrunzian attack he had to retreat to the protestant north. The Lavenrunzians then organised countermeasures and sacked several rebel cities, sometimes massacring their inhabitants. They had more trouble in the west, where they unsuccessfully besieged several heavily fortified cities with huge losses. The inhabitants of these cities refused to give up even after months of sieging, having seen the fate of those that had surrendered before.
In 1581 the Staten-Generaal declared their decision to no longer recognise the Emperor. The rebel provinces then signed the Union of Utrecht, confirming their unity. William himself made several more plans to invade in the next few years, but little came of it as he lacked support and money. He died in battle in a relatively small engagement with Lavenrunzian forces, leaving the 17 year old Maurice to lead the Knootian Revolt.