1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Louis of Nassau

LOUIS OF NASSAU (1538–1574), son of William, count of Nassau, and Juliana von Stolberg, and younger brother of William the Silent, took an active part in the revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish domination. He was one of the leaders of the league of nobles who signed the document known as “the Compromise” in 1566, and a little later was a member of the deputation who presented the petition of grievances called “the Request” to the regent, Margaret of Parma. It was on this occasion that the appellation of “the Beggars” (les Gueux) was first given to the opponents of King Philip’s policy. On the arrival of Alva at Brussels, Count Louis, with his brother William, withdrew from the Netherlands and raised a body of troops in defence of the patriot cause. In the spring of 1568 Louis invaded Friesland, and at Heiligerlee, on the 23rd of May, completely defeated a Spanish force under Count Aremberg, who was killed. Alva then advanced to meet the invaders with a large army, and at Jemmingen (July 21), with very slight loss, annihilated the levies of Louis, who himself escaped by swimming from the field across an estuary of the Ems. He now joined the army of his brother William, which had in October to beat a hasty retreat before Alva’s superior skill. Then Louis, in company with his brothers William and Henry, made his way across the French frontier to the camp of the Huguenot leader, Admiral Coligny. Louis took an active part in the campaign and fought heroically at Jarnac and Moncontour. In 1572 Louis, not deterred by previous disaster, raised a small force in France, and, suddenly entering Hainaut, captured Mons (May 23). Here he was besieged by Don Frederick of Toledo, Alva’s natural son, who blockaded all approach to the town. William made an attempt to relieve his brother, but failed, and Mons had to surrender (September 17). Louis, who was sick with fever, withdrew to his ancestral home, Dillenburg, to recruit his health, and then once more to devote his energies to the raising of money and troops for another invasion of the Netherlands. In the hope of drawing away the Spaniards from the siege of Leiden by a diversion in the south, Louis, with his brothers John and Henry, at the head of a force of mixed nationalities and little discipline, crossed the frontier near Maastricht, and advanced as far as the Mookerheide near Nijmwegen. Here he was attacked by a body of Spanish veterans under an experienced leader, Sancho d’Avila, and speedily routed. In the disorderly flight both Louis and his younger brother Henry, refusing to abandon the field, lost their lives. Their bodies were never recovered. Thus perished at the age of thirty-six one of the most chivalrous and gifted of a gallant band of brothers, four of whom laid down their lives in their country’s cause.

See P. J. Blok, Lodewijk von Nassau, 1538–1574 (The Hague, 1689), and the Cambridge Modern History, vol. iii. chs. vi. and vii., and bibliography (1904); also A. J. Van der Aa, Biographisch woordenboek der Nederlanden (22 vols., Haarlem, 1852–1878).