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In the current Dutch spelling the first words of the 12th and 13th stanzas begin with Z instead of S.Like many of the songs of the period, it has a complex structure, composed around a thematic chiasmus: the text is symmetrical, in that verses one and 15 resemble one another in meaning, as do verses two and 14, three and 13, etc., until they converge in the 8th verse, the heart of the song: "Oh David, thou soughtest shelter from King Saul's tyranny.
It had been sung on many official occasions and at many important events since the outbreak of the Dutch Revolt in 1568, such as the siege of Haarlem in 1573 and the ceremonial entry of the Prince of Orange into Brussels on 18 September 1578. During the Dutch Golden Age, it was conceived essentially as the anthem of the House of Orange-Nassau and its supporters – which meant, in the politics of the time, the anthem of a specific political faction which was involved in a prolonged struggle with opposing factions (which sometimes became violent, verging on civil war).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.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.Even so I fled this welter", where the comparison is made between not only the biblical David and William of Orange as merciful and just leader of the Dutch Revolt, but also between the tyran King Saul and the Spanish crown, and between the promised land of Israel granted by God to David, and a kingdom granted by God to William.
but he is above all faithful to his conscience: to serve God and the Dutch people.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.However, this is disputed as both Marnix and Coornhert never mentioned that they wrote the lyrics.This is strange since the song was immensely popular in their time. In some cases the vowels of certain words were altered to allow them to rhyme with other words.Both the "Wilhelmus" and the Dutch Revolt should be seen in the light of the 16th century Reformation in Europe and the resulting persecution of Protestants by the Spanish Inquisition in the Low Countries.