Size: The collection comprises c. 2,5 metres.
Access: All items can be found in the KB Catalogue. More extensive records may be found in the Catalogus van de handschriften der Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen, in bruikleen in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (1938, see below). The letters have been entered into the Catalogus Epistularum Neerlandicarum.
More information: Ad Leerintveld 070-3140320.
The written legacy of Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), Lord of Zuylichem, secretary to the two princes of Orange, poet, musician and collector, has for the greater part (except the manuscripts containing music) remained in family possession. To the collection were added the archives of Constantijn Huygens Jr. (1628-1697), secretary to stadtholder-king Willem III, art connoisseur and artist, and Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), mathematician and physicist. After the death without issue of the last direct descendant of Huygens, Susanna Louisa Huygens (1714-1785), the dowager Willem Baron van Wassenaer van Ruijven, the legacy was divided among great-nephews and nieces. In 1823, a large part was put up for auction. With the support of King Willem I, the legacy was acquired for the state and divided among a number of state institutes. The extensive correspondence which Christiaan had kept up with scientists all over the globe was added to his scientific legacy, which had been given to Leiden University by the Huygens heirs at an earlier date. The more literary legacies of Constantijn Sr. and Jr. was escheated to the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW). In 1937 the KB received these manuscripts and letters on loan.
The Huygens Collection comprises personal documents, works of literature and letters. Among the personal documents of Constantijn Sr. can be named: De vita propria (autobiography, 19th century acquisition) Dagboek and Staet en administratie van alle zijne goederen (acquired in 1955) and documents concerning the marriages of his children (acquired in 1970 and 1992). The complete literary work of Constantijn Huygens Sr. be found in various manuscript forms (drafts, manuscripts ready for print) in the KNAW loan. The Dutch poems have been named after the title of the printed anthology Korenbloemen. Of major poems such as the burlesque Trijntje Cornelis and the famous poem about his country house, Hofwijck, the KB also owns some other manuscripts.
The majority of Huygens' correspondence has entered the KB collection together with the KNAW loan. The greater part is formed by the more than 1300 copies of letters in French. Regarding the work of Constantijn Jr., the KNAW collection contains Latin poems, a journal of a journey to France and other countries in 1649-1650, and diaries, spanning most of the period between 1673 and 1696.
The collection also contains travel journals written by Christiaan and by Constantijn's third son, Lodewijk (1631-1699).
- A.M.Th. Leerintveld. 'Ter goeder memorie van mynen naem. De nalatenschap van Constantijn Huygens'. In: Soeticheydt des Buyten-levens. Leven en leren op Hofwijck. Ed. V. Freijser. Delft 1988, p. 96-115
- 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. Published after his handwriting by J.A. Worp. 9 delen. Groningen 1892-1899.
- De briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens 1608-1687. Published by J.A. Worp. Den Haag 1911-1917.
- 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.
- The travel journals of Constantijn Huygens Jr.have beenpublished in: Werken van het Historisch Genootschap 1881, 1876, 1877and 1888.
- Lodewijk's travel journal has been publishedin: A.G.H. Bachrach. The English Journal 1651-1652. Leiden 1982.