Constantijn Huygens (poet, statesman)

Collection: Manuscripts and letters from and to the poet and statesman Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), with travel journals and documents from some of his relatives.
Size: C. 2400 letters, 52 bound and unbound manuscripts (poems, travel journals and biographies).
Access: The items can be found in the KB Catalogue. They may be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room.
More information: Ad Leerintveld 070-3140320.

Portrait of Constantijn Huygens. Shelfnumber 759 C 17.  
Portrait of Constantijn Huygens. Shelfnumber 759 C 17
Small drawing of Constantijn Huygens. Request no. KA 40a. 1622. Fol. 1r.  
Small drawing by Constantijn Huygens. Request no. KA 40a. 1622.

Collection profile

The written legacy of Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), Lord of Zuylichem, secretary to two Princes of Orange, poet, musician and collector, consists of personal documents, literary works and letters. Among the personal documents of Constantijn senior are De vita propria (his autobiography), his Diary, Staet en administratie van alle mijne goederen' (State and records of all my goods) and documents relating to his childrens' marriages. The complete literary works of Constantijn Huygens senior are available in several manuscripts (drafts, copies). The Dutch-language poems are called Korenbloemen, after the title of the printed collection. A few important works, such as the comedy Trijntje Cornelis and the famous poem on his estate Hofwijck are available in multiple manuscripts.

The lion's share of Huygens's correspondence is made up of over 1300 copies of letters in French.

Several documents from Constantijn Junior are also present in the collection: Latin poems, a journal of a journey to a.o. France in 1649-1650, and diaries covering the period from 1673 to 1696. There are also journals by Christiaan Huygens and by Constantijn's third son, Lodewijk (Louis, 1631-1699).

Collection history

With the exception of the music manuscripts, Constantijn Huygens's legacy remained in the possession of the family for a long time. It was expanded with the acquisition of the archives of Constantijn Huygens junior (1628-1697), Secretary of Stadtholder-King William III, draftsman and art critic, and Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), the mathematician and physicist. When the last remaining descendant of Huygens, Susanna Louise Huygens (1714-1785), douarière Willem Baron van Wassenaer van Ruijven died childless, the inheritance was divided among grand-nephews and nieces. In 1823 a major part of the collection was auctioned. With the support of King William I, the collection was acquired and divided among a number of State institutions. Christiaan's extensive correspondence with numerous scientists all over the world was added to his scientific legacy at Leiden University. The more literary legacies of Constantijn senior and junior were given to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In 1937, the KNAW manuscripts were given on loan to the KB.

Later additions were acquired in 1955 (Dagboek and Staet en administratie van alle mijne goederen), and in 1970 and 1992 (documents relating to his children's marriages).

Literature on Constantijn Huygens

  • Ad Leeerintveld, Constantijn Huygens. De collectie in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Amersfoort/Brugge, 2013.
  • D.J.H. Ter Horst, Catalogus van de handschriften der Koninklijke Nederlandsche Akademie van Wetenschappen, in bruikleen in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Den Haag, 1938, p. 22-31.
  • Constantijn Huygens, De gedichten. Naar zijn handschrift uitgegeven door J.A. Worp. Groningen, 1892-1899. [Digitale versie op DBNL (link is external).]
  • Constantijn Huygens, Nederlandse gedichten 1614-1625. Historisch-kritische uitgave. (Editie Ad Leerintveld). Den Haag, 2001.
  • Constantijn Huygens, Latijnse gedichten 1697-1620. (Editie en vertaling Tineke L. ter Meer). Den Haag, 2004.
  • De briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens 1608-1687. Uitgegeven door J.A. Worp. Den Haag, 1911-1917. [Digitale versie op Huygens/KNAW (link is external)].
  • Huygens herdacht. Catalogus bij de tentoonstelling in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek ter gelegenheid van de 300ste sterfdag van Constantijn Huygens. Red. A. Eyffinger. Den Haag, 1987.

Literature on Constantijn Huygens's children

  • Journaal van Constantijn Huygens, den zoon, van 21 October 1688 tot 2 September 1696, in: Werken van het Historisch Genootschap, gevestigd te Utrecht (1876-1888) [Online op DBNL: deel 1 (link is external), deel 2 (link is external), deel 3 (link is external)].
  • Journaal van Constantijn Huygens, den zoon, gedurende de veldtochten der jaren 1673, 1675, 1676, 1677 en 1678, in: Werken van het Historisch Genootschap, gevestigd te Utrecht (1881). (Online at DBNL).
  • A.G.H. Bachrach, The English Journal 1651-1652. Leiden, 1982 (travel journal by Lodewijk Huygens).
  • Lodewijck Huygens' Spaans journaal: reis naar het hof van de koning van Spanje, 1660-1661. (Edition Maurits Ebben). Zutphen, 2005.

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