Oranje was a stadhouder in the service of Spain who eventually turned against the empire in the 1560s and helped organize the Dutch struggle for independance. In the last half of the 1560s he tried to form these Sea beggars into an effective and organized fighting force against Spain. He issued letters of marque and the following orders:
- The Sea beggars had to conform to the Articles of War
- Each commander was to maintain a minister on board his ship
- All prizes were to be divided and distributed by a prescribed rule
- Command functions should be occupied by native Dutchmen unless expressly commissioned by the Prince Van Oranje
- No persons were to be received on board, either as sailors or soldiers, save folk of good name and fame.
Despite these orders and the letters of marque many vessels of nations other than those of Spain were attacked by the Sea beggars. Even fishing-boats and merchant vessels of the Dutch Provinces were not safe from attack. A case in point was Lord De Dolhain. For several months in 1570 he acted as Admiral for the Prince of Oranje. Because he refused to render any accounts of his expeditions he was deprived of his command. In a letter to the Church in London, dated 26 February 1573, the Prince remarked on one of the reasons why the Sea beggars often attacked ships indiscriminately: they earned their meals through the mouths of their Cannons.