Koenraad Swart was approaching his fiftieth birthday when appointed to the Chair of Dutch History and Institutions in the University of London. Like his distinguished predecessor, Ernst Kossmann, Swart came to the London chair a comparative novice in what the Dutch themselves call the ‘history of the fatherland’. As if to serve notice of his commitment to Dutch history, the new professor elected to make William I of Orange, at once the most celebrated yet enigmatic of all the heroes in the Dutch pantheon, the centrepiece of his future research. It would have been a bold choice for an aspiring historian at any time; it was an especially courageous decision for an established scholar who came to Dutch history in the high noon of his academic career.