- Historical event:
- 15 July 1544
- The Principality of Orange was ruled by the Dutch rulers, and the Dutch dynasty is still known as the Orange-Nassau dynasty. The Dutch associated the Orange-Nassau dynasty with the colour orange only due to the language similarities.
René of Chalon, the first Dutch statesman who held the title of Prince of the Principality of Orange (present-day France), died on this day in 1544.
The Principality of Orange was named after the city of Orange, located in the southern part of France, only about 20 kilometers north of Avignon – famous for the Avignon popes. The city’s name has nothing to do with oranges. It is derived from the Latin word “Arausio”, which was the name of the city during Roman times. But, the word “Arausio” was distorted during the Middle Ages, and became “Orange” (which is the explanation for many cities’ names in French: “Lugdunum”-“Lyon”, “Aurelianum”-”Orléans” etc.).
Namely, the name of the city of Orange was associated with the word “orange” (French: orange), and the colour orange. It is important to note that the Principality of Orange was a sovereign state, although located in the middle of France. It gained independence from the Kingdom of France, similar to the neighbouring Avignon. Namely, Avignon was known as a papal territory.
The mentioned René Chalon inherited the Principality of Orange through the maternal line. He was a Dutch statesman, and a member of the House of Nassau. The Principality of Orange was owned by the Dutch rulers, and the Dutch dynasty is still known as the Orange-Nassau dynasty. The Dutch write the word “Orange” as “Oranje”, and these toponyms began to be used in Southern Africa after the Dutch immigration (the Boers are descendants of the Dutch settlers in South Africa).
The Dutch associated the Orange-Nassau dynasty with the colour orange only due to language similarities. The Dutch ruler William of Orange became the King of England after the Catholic King James II of England (the Stuart dynasty) had been deposed. In the UK and Ireland, the colour orange has become a symbol of Protestants’ opposition to Catholics. Of course, the colour orange can not be exclusively associated with Protestantism due to its other symbolic meanings.