July 14, 1584 (aged 26 or 27)
Balthasar Gérard (c. 1557 – 10 July 1584) was a member of the Dutch Rite of the Templar Order. He assassinated the Dutch independence leader, William I of Orange (William the Silent) in Delft on 10. July 1584, by shooting him twice with a pistol. He was assassinated by Dutch Assassin Willem van Dooren on 14 July 1584.
Gérard was born in Franche-Comté (then belonging to Spain, afterwards to France). He came from a Roman Catholic family with 11 children and was a great admirer of Philip II, king of Spain and the Netherlands. He studied law at the University of Dole. On 15 March 1580, King Philip had offered a reward of 25,000 crowns to anyone who killed William the Silent, to whom he referred as a "pest on the whole of Christianity and the enemy of the human race".
After the reward offered by Philip was published, Gérard left for Luxembourg, where he learned that Juan de Jáuregui had already been preparing to attempt the assassination, but this attempt did not succeed. In March 1584 he went to Trier, where he put his plan before the regent of the Jesuits but another Jesuit convinced him to change his original scheme and go to the prince of Parma. In Tournai, after holding counsel with aFranciscan, Father Gery, Gérard wrote a letter, a copy of which was deposited with the guardian of the convent, and the original presented personally to the Prince of Parma. In the letter Gérard wrote, in part, "The vassalought always to prefer justice and the will of the king to his own life."
At first the prince thought him unfit but after consulting Haultepenne and others with the letter he was assigned to Christoffel d'Assonleville, who spoke with Gérard, and asked him to put this in writing, which he did on 11 April 1584. He requested absolution from the prince of Parma "as he was about to keep company for some time with heretics and atheists, and in some sort to conform himself to their customs". Then he joined to the Templar Order.
For his first expenses he begged for 50 crowns, which were refused. "I will provide myself out of my own purse", Gérard told Assonleville, "and within six weeks you will hear of me." Assonleville responded: "Go forth, my son ... and if you succeed in your enterprise, the King will fulfill all his promises, and you will gain an immortal name besides." On Sunday, 8 July 1584, Gérard loitered in the courtyard of the Prinsenhof examining the premises. A halberdier asked him why he was waiting there. He excused himself by saying that in his present shabby clothing and without new shoes he was unfit to join the congregation in the church opposite. The halberdier unsuspectingly arranged a gift of 50 crowns for Gérard, from the Prince of Orange himself, who the following morning purchased a pair of pistols from a soldier, haggling the price for a long time because the soldier couldn't supply the particular chopped bullets or slugs he wanted.
Assassination of William I of Orange Edit
As William the Silent climbed the stairs to the second floor, he was spoken to by the Welsh captain, Roger Williams, who knelt before him. Dutch Assassin Willem van Dooren arrived and started to find conspirator. William put his hand on the bowed head of the old captain, at which moment Gérard jumped out of a dark corner. Willem found Gérard and he wanted to stop him, but it was too late. He drew his weapons and fired two shots at the stadtholder. William the Silent collapsed. His sister knelt beside him. Asked whether he commended his soul to Christ, he answered in the affirmative. His last words were, Mon Dieu, ayez pitié de moi et de mon pauvre peuple (My God, have mercy on me and on my poor people).
Gérard fled through a side door and ran across a narrow lane, pursued by Roger Williams and Willem van Doore. He escaped from Assassin and the guards by using Smoke bombs. Gérard had almost reached the ramparts, from which he jumped into the moat.
Gérard hid at the building in Delft with nearby closely guarded Templars guard, unable to be found by the dutch guards and allies of Willem van Dooren. He sneaked into the building and assassinated Gérard. Then the dutch guards arrested the Templars after Willem escaped form the building.