René of Chalon

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René of Chalon, Prince of Orange
Rene van Chalon.jpg
René of Chalon
Prince of Orange
Reign3 August 1530 – 15 July 1544
SuccessorWilliam I
Born5 February 1519
Breda, Duchy of Brabant
Died15 July 1544(1544-07-15) (aged 25)
Saint-Dizier, Kingdom of France
BuriedGrote Kerk (Breda)
Noble familyChalon-Arlay and Nassau-Breda
Spouse(s)Anna of Lorraine
FatherHenry III of Nassau-Breda
MotherClaudia of Chalon

René of Chalon (5 February 1519 – 15 July 1544), also known as Renatus of Chalon, was a Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Gelre.


René was born in Breda, the only son of Count Henry III of Nassau-Breda and Claudia of Chalon.[1] Claudia's brother, Philibert of Chalon, was the last Prince of Orange from the House of Chalon. When Philibert died in 1530, René inherited the Princedom of Orange on condition that he used the name and coat of arms of the Chalon-Orange family. History knows him therefore as René of Chalon instead of as "René of Nassau-Breda".

Coat of arms of René of Chalon as Prince of Orange. The 1st and 4th grand quarters show the arms of the Chalon-Arlay (the gold bend) princes of Orange (the bugle). The blue and gold checkers represent the arms of Jeanne of Geneva, who married one of the Chalon princes. The 2nd and 3rd show the quarterings of Brittany and Luxembourg-Saint-Pol. The inescutcheon overall is his paternal arms quartered of Nassau and Breda.[2]

René of Chalon married Anna of Lorraine (1522–1568) on 20 August 1540 at Bar-le-Duc.[3] They had only one child, a daughter named Maria, who lived only 3 weeks and was buried in the Grote Kerk in Breda. He was made a knight of the Golden Fleece the same year.[3]


In 1544, René took part in the siege of St. Dizier in the service of Emperor Charles V.[4] He was mortally wounded in battle and died with the Emperor attending at his bedside.[5] René was buried in Grote Kerk in Breda, near the resting-place of his infant daughter. A commemorative monument (Cadaver Tomb of René of Chalon) stands in the church of St. Etienne in Bar-le-Duc.


René of Chalon had inherited the principality of Orange from his maternal uncle, who had been the last male member of the House of Chalon. Like his uncle, Rene also had no surviving children, and in his last will and testament, he left all his landed possessions, including the principality, to his father's brother's son, William of Nassau-Dillenburg. Thus, the estates belonging to Rene's mother's brother passed into the family of Rene's father's brother, and William the Silent came into possession of the principality despite having no connection at all to the original House of Orange. The only condition placed by Rene was that his heir, William, should receive a Catholic education. William's father (Rene's uncle) agreed on behalf of his minor son, and the succession was endorsed by the Emperor, who was the overlord of most of Rene's possessions. William the Silent duly added the name of Orange to his own paternal dignities and thus became, in 1544, the founder of the House of Orange-Nassau.

The principality of Orange had already passed, through the female line, from the first dynasty of Orange to the families Les Baux, and then to that of De Chalon. It now passed to a family which was not descended in blood at all from any of the preceding families.



  1. ^ Van Tol 2019, p. 42.
  2. ^ Rietstap 2003, p. 297.
  3. ^ a b Guenther 1995, p. 291.
  4. ^ O'Malley 1964, p. 204.
  5. ^ Rowen 1988, p. 11.


  • Guenther, Ilse (1995). "Rene of Chalon". In Bietenholz, Peter G.; Deutscher, Thomas Brian (eds.). Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance and Reformation. Vol. 1. University of Toronto Press.
  • O'Malley, Charles Donald (1964). Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, 1514-1564. University of California Press.
  • Rowen, Herbert H. (1988). The princes of Orange: The Stadholders in the Dutch Republic. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-8063-4811-9.
  • Rietstap, Johannes Baptist (2003). Armorial general. Vol. 2. Genealogical Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8063-4811-9.[unreliable source?]
  • Van Tol, Jonas (2019). Germany and the Coming of the French Wars of Religion. Brill.
René of Chalon
Born: 5 February 1519 Died: 15 July 1544
Regnal titles
Preceded by Prince of Orange
Succeeded by
Preceded by Baron of Breda
Political offices
Preceded by Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht
Succeeded by
Preceded by Stadtholder of Guelders
Succeeded by