It had been sung on many official occasions and at many important events since the outbreak of the Dutch Revolt in 1568, such as the siege of Haarlem in 1573 and the ceremonial entry of the Prince of Orange into Brussels on 18 September 1578. During the Dutch Golden Age, it was conceived essentially as the anthem of the House of Orange-Nassau and its supporters – which meant, in the politics of the time, the anthem of a specific political faction which was involved in a prolonged struggle with opposing factions (which sometimes became violent, verging on civil war).
The prince thus states that his roots are Germanic rather than Romance – in spite of his being Prince of Orange as well. At the end of the song, which coincided with the third (i.e.
Though only proclaimed the national anthem in 1932, the "Wilhelmus" already had a centuries-old prior history. last) English warning shot, Tromp fired a full broadside thereby beginning the Battle of Goodwin Sands and the First Anglo-Dutch War.
However, the triumphant contents of the "Wilhelmus" is the opposite of the content of the original song, making it subversive at several levels.
Thus, the Dutch Protestants had taken over an anti-Protestant song, and adapted it into propaganda for their own agenda.
This may have been because at the time (late 16th century) it was uncommon to publicly doubt the Divine Right of Kings, who was accountable to God alone.