The Dutch Revolt
In 1566 discontented Protestants vandalised countless Catholic churches. This iconoclastic fury, as it is known, began in Flanders and soon spread to other parts of the Low Countries.
Philip II decided to strike back with military force. William of Orange saved his own life by escaping to the Nassau estates in Germany.
But the revolt of the northern provinces continued. William of Orange led this fight for liberation from 1572 onwards, with varying degrees of success. In the process he forged strong links between the Netherlands and the House of Orange-Nassau. Three of his brothers were killed in battle during the Revolt.
His brother, Count Jan the Elder, stadholder of Gelderland, was the driving force behind the Union of Utrecht, an alliance formed by the seven northern provinces to fight Philip II.