Principality of Orange
Map of the Principality of Orange (with south at the top)
|Status||Vassal state of the Holy Roman Empire|
|Prince of Orange|
|Bertrand I of Baux (first)|
|William III of Orange and England (last)|
o Principality status granted
o Ceded to France by the Treaty of Utrecht
|108 sq mi (280 km2)|
The Principality of Orange (French: la Principauté d'Orange) was, from 1163 to 1713, a feudal state in Provence, in the south of modern-day France, on the east bank of the river Rhone, north of the city of Avignon, and surrounded by the independent papal state of Comtat Venaissin.
It was constituted in 1163, when Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I elevated the Burgundian County of Orange (consisting of the city of Orange and the land surrounding it) to a sovereign principality within the Empire. The principality became part of the scattered holdings of the house of Orange-Nassau from the time that William the Silent inherited the title of Prince of Orange from his cousin in 1544, until it was finally ceded to France in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht. Although permanently lost by the Nassaus then, this fief gave its name to the extant Royal House of the Netherlands. The area of the principality was approximately 12 miles (19 km) long by 9 miles (14 km) wide, or 108 square miles (280 km2).
The Carolingian counts of Orange had their origin in the 8th century, and the fief passed into the family of the lords of Baux. The Baux counts of Orange became fully independent with the breakup of the Kingdom of Arles after 1033. In 1163 Orange was raised to a principality, as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1431 the Count of Provence waived taxation duties for Orange's rulers (Mary of Baux-Orange and Jean de Châlons of Burgundy) in exchange for liquid assets to be used for a ransom. The town and principality of Orange was a part of administration and province of Dauphiné.
In 1544, William the Silent, count of Nassau, with large properties in the Netherlands, inherited the principality. William, 11 years old at the time, was the cousin of René of Châlon who died without an heir when he was shot at St. Dizier in 1544 during the Franco-Imperial wars. René, it turned out, willed his entire fortune to this very young relative. Among those titles and estates was the Principality of Orange. René's mother, Claudia, had held the title prior to it being passed to young William since Philibert de Châlon was her brother.
When William inherited the Principality, it was incorporated into the holdings of what became the House of Orange. This pitched it into the Protestant side in the Wars of Religion, during which the town was badly damaged. In 1568 the Eighty Years' War began with William as Stadtholder of Holland leading the bid for independence of the Netherlands from Spain. William the Silent was assassinated in Delft in 1584. It was his son, Maurice of Nassau (Prince of Orange after his elder brother died in 1618), with the help of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, who solidified the independence of the Dutch republic.
As an independent enclave within France, Orange became an attractive destination for Protestants and a Huguenot stronghold. William III of Orange, who ruled England as William III of England, was the last Prince of Orange to rule the principality. The principality was captured by the forces of Louis XIV under François Adhémar de Monteil Comte de Grignan, in 1672 during the Franco-Dutch War, and again in August 1682, but William did not concede his claim to rule. In 1702, William III died childless and the right to the principality became a matter of dispute between Frederick I of Prussia and John William Friso of Nassau-Dietz, who both claimed the title 'Prince of Orange'. In 1702 also, Louis XIV of France enfeoffed François Louis, Prince of Conti, a relative of the Châlon dynasty, with the Principality of Orange, so that there were three claimants to the title.
Finally in 1713 in the Treaty of Utrecht, Frederick I of Prussia ceded the Principality to France (without surrendering the princely title) in which cession the Holy Roman Empire as suzerain concurred, though John William Friso of Nassau-Dietz, the other claimant to the principality, did not concur. Only in 1732, with the Treaty of Partage, did John William Friso's successor William IV, Prince of Orange, renounce all his claims to the territory, but again (like Frederick I) he did not renounce his claim to the title. In the same treaty an agreement was made between both claimants, stipulating that both houses be allowed to use the title.
In 1713, after Orange was officially ceded to France, it became a part of the Province of the Dauphiné.
In 1814 after the defeat of Napoleon, the United Provinces was not revived but replaced into the Kingdom of the United Netherlands, under a King of the House of Orange-Nassau. In 1815 the Congress of Vienna took care of a French sensitivity by stipulating that the Kingdom of the Netherlands would be ruled by the House of Oranje-Nassau - "Oranje", not "Orange" as had been the custom until then. The English language, however, continues to use the term Orange-Nassau.
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Due to its connection with the Dutch royal family, Orange gave its name to other Dutch-influenced parts of the world, such as the Orange River and the Orange Free State in South Africa, and Orange County in the U.S. state of New York. The town of Orange, Connecticut is named after the principality.
The orange portion of the flag of Ireland, invented in 1848, represents Irish Protestants, who were grateful for their rescue by William III of England ("William of Orange") in 1689-1691. The flag of South Africa from 1928 to 1994 had an orange upper stripe and was very similar to the old Dutch flag, also called Prince's Flag, because it was inspired by the history of the Afrikaners, who are chiefly of Dutch descent.
The flag of New York City and the flag of Albany, New York (which was originally known as Fort Orange) also each have an orange stripe to reflect the Dutch origins of those cities. In turn, orange is included in the team colors of the New York Mets, the New York Knicks, and the New York Islanders. It is also a team color of the San Francisco Giants, which was a New York team until 1957.
The color orange is still the national color of the modern Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Dutch flag originally had an orange stripe instead of a red, and today an orange pennant is still flown above the flag on Koningsdag. Dutch national sports teams usually compete in orange, and a wide variety of orange-colored items are displayed by Dutch people on occasions of national pride or festivity.