Eleven year old Willem van Nassau-Dillenburg inherits the title of prince of Orange from is uncle René and has to relocate from his home in Germany to Brussels and become a Catholic. Both Philips, the Spanish King and Maria of Hungary, regent of the Netherlands take a liking to the young prince. Young Willem soon befriends the restrained Philip II, the Duke of Alfa and the Earl of Egmond but is appalled at the torture and burning of people who renounce the Catholic faith.
Cardinal Granvelle has decided it's time for 18 year old Prince Willem to marry and proposes Anna van Buren as the best choice. Willem Van Oranje Nassau names their first child after Prince Philips of Spain, who is asked to become the boy's godfather. When emperor Karel V steps down from the thrown and is proceeded by Philips, Nassau makes ambitious plans to get a high position in the court of the new ruler, Philips II.
Philips II has appointed Margaretha of Parma as regent of the Netherlands. Oranje and Egmond have become high standing Stadhouders. Together with Alva, the two noblemen travel to France for a meeting with Henry II. Shortly after his mistress Eva Clinckx give birth to a son out of wedlock, the Prince of Orange entertains the notion of marrying the protestant Anna van Saksen. Even before their wedding is set, Anna proves herself to be impulsive and hard to handle.
When Anna van Saksen, Princess of Orange is introduced to Margaretha Van Parma, they immediately get off on a wrong foot. Egmond travels to the Spanish court to present his and Orange's request to let the Dutch lords have their say instead of the regent Margaretha. When Philips II refuses to give power to the Staten-Generaal, Willem is strongly tempted to take up arms against the Spanish ruler.
Oranje & Egmond step down as Stadhouders because they refuse to stand behind for the Spanish inquisition. The Dutch people start revolting against the Catholic Church and Oranje is torn between his loyalty to the crown and his people. In Spain, Philips's son Don Carlos asks to be send to the Netherlands to settle things, but his father thinks Carlos is unsuitable for the task.
Philips II sends Alva to the Netherlands to strike down the Dutch rebellion. Oranje retreats to his ancestral home in Dillenburg, leaving only his eldest son in the Netherlands to finish his study. Unsatisfied having to answer to Alva, Margaretja Van Parma steps down as regent. Alva has Egmond & Hoorne arrested and put on trial. Oranje's son Philips Willem is send to the Spanish Court. Willem decides to go to war and take back the Netherlands.
Oranje has lost the battle and most of his fortune. His wife Anna leaves him but is soon arrested and imprisoned on account of adultery. Three years after his first crusade, he is persuaded to try again. This time the Dutch people are fully behind him, and Alva finds himself forced to retreat.
The city of Leiden is under siege. Oranje decides to drive off the Spaniards by flooding the country surrounding the city. Willem marries Charlotte de Bourbon after his marriage to Anna van Saxen is annulled on a count of her insanity. Philips II appoints his half brother Don Juan as regent to the Netherlands, who arrives with an offer for Willem van Oranje concerning his eldest son.
Willem van Oranje settles down in Brussels, but the politics of the low countries remain turbulent. The Pacification of Gent is a failure, and his request to invite the French heir The Duke of Anjou to come and rule the Netherlands is received with skepticism. Philips II takes Cardinal Granvelle back into his favor, who proposes to excommunicate Oranje and puts a death warrant on his head.
Willem van Oranje survives a murder attempt but his slow recovery takes it's toll on the health of his wife Charlotte de Bourbon. Suffering from loneliness, he is advised to marry a much younger widow, Louise de Coligny. When she bares him a daughter (his 13th child), Willem spends most of what's left of his money on the baptizing. Balthasar Gerards arrives in Delft with one thing on his mind: to rid the world of Willem de Zwijger.