My vacation back to my homeland of Overisel, Michigan revived an interest in my deeper roots. I spent some time with my family tree, and read a children's book on William of Orange. It made for interesting reading, but was weak on connecting the history together.
I've been doing more digging, especially since a conversation Sunday where my ignorance of my own history was again on display. Germany had Luther. France had Calvin. Scotland had Knox. Who is the hero of my homeland, the Netherlands? Well, William of Orange, but who was he?
There were THREE Williams of Orange, and the first and third were prominent Dutch nobility who fought for Protestantism in their lands. The first fought Philip of Spain in the 1560s to 80s. The third was a descendant (but not grandson) of William the Silent. He fought Louis XIV of France, which gave him enough prestige in England that he was invited by Parliament to take the crown from his own Catholic uncle, James II.
So William became William III of England as well as being William III of Orange. He later married Mary, his own cousin, daughter of James. This couple founded the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, a short drive from where I live.
Going back a bit, the region of Orange was in Southern France, only about 100 square miles. It eventually fell back to France's dominion, but lives on in spirit through the color, which is found in the flags of the Netherlands, Ireland, City of Albany, NY, Syracuse University, and New York City. Each of these use the orange to note their Dutch heritage.
And there you have (some of) it.