Noel Malcolm on Elizabeth I and on the house of Orange

Noel Malcolm’s Agents of Empire, about the activities of various members of the Bruti and Bruni families from Albania as ‘Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World’, is the best history book I have read this year. One of the characters joins the English ambassador to Istanbul on campaign with the Sultan, which gives Malcolm the excuse to quote the Venetian bailo (representative in Istanbul) in 1590, after the defeat of the Spanish Armada:

[W]hereas previously [the Ottomans] did not have a high opinion of the Queen of England, as she was a woman and the ruler of just half an island, nevertheless they think highly of her now, as they see that she had the boldness to make offensive war on the King of Spain, and they hear from all sides about her many naval forces. 

Another character leads a company of soldiers in the Papal enclave of Avignon, which itself contains

[T]he isolated principality of Orange, based on the town of that name, which had been inherited by the counts of Nassau. 

[footnote] Hence the princes of Orange in the history of the Netherlands: the title came from the French town, whose Latin name was Arausio, and had nothing to do with the fruit or the colour. 

No doubt every true blooded Dutchman knows that, but I certainly didn’t. It reminds me of the picture of ‘King Williamandmary’ in 1066 and all that:






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Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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