Uploaded on Feb 11, 2008
Het Wilhelmus is the national anthem of the Netherlands and is the oldest national anthem in the world, though the words of the Japanese national anthem (not the music) date back to the ninth century. Although it was not recognized as the official national anthem until 1932, it had remained popular with the Dutch people since its creation.
It is also one of the very few anthems that does not focus on the history or military accomplishments of the people it represents, on the contrary, it tells of William of Orange, his life and why he is fighting for the Dutch. As a result, the anthem is written as if it were sung by William himself. The song is remarkably peaceful.
The tune of the Wilhelmus is based on a French soldiers' song: "Autre chanson de la ville de Chartres assiégée par le prince de Condé" (English: "Another song about the city of Chartres under siege by the Prince de Condé"), which was popular around 1569 during the siege of Chartres.
"Dutch blood or German blood?":
There is an ongoing confusion and dispute as to what the author meant with "Duytschen bloedt" in the text, as the contemporary Dutch word "Duits" (being the modernised form of "Duytsch/Duijtsch") means "German". Another explanation is that "Duytsch" was at the time a variation of Dietsch meaning Dutch.
Both could be correct as William of Nassau was born in Dillenburg in the county of Nassau in Germany and that it referred to William's German (rather than Dutch) descent. Yet others claim, however, that it referred to the Dutch in the sense that William felt one of them rather than belonging to them ethnically.
"Duits" is often replaced by "Diets", a cognate of "Duits", "Dutch", "Deutsch" and "Deitsch" but meaning "Dutch" rather than German. This is done mostly, or even exclusively, because of anti-German sentiment resulting from the Dutch experiences in the Second World War. Hence many Dutch people after the war sung that William was of "Diets" blood, rather than of German blood as they did not like the notion of their Father of the Fatherland being of the same heritage as the people they hated so much during the 5 year occupation. Although the exact meaning is still, and will probably remain, unclear the official version of the Dutch national anthem uses "Duits".
Another explanation: Dutch and German have common Germanic roots, respectively Low German and High German, later translated into Dutch (the peoples language). In this explanation, the translation "German" would be correct instead of Dutch.
"Why honouring the king of spain?"
At the outset of the war, William of Orange-Nassau was elected Stadhouder, meaning he still represented the king's authority. Originally, William and the Dutch people had no misgivings with honoring the king, as long as the king let them self-govern and respected their autonomy. The Dutch originally felt that the King of Spain had good intentions, but was receiving bad counsel from his Spanish delegates, which, subsequently, resulted in the king formulating bad policies. The Dutch rebels did not withdraw their loyalty to the king early on in the struggle. They only wished that their rights were honored and that they didn't have to be subservient to Spanish policies.
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