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09-09-2020

Special letters Johan de Witt collected in new book

Johan de Witt and France, an anthology of beautiful letters from and to Johan de Witt, will be published in September. The book contains about thirty letters selected by the members of the project team “Correspondence of Johan de Witt”. For each letter Jean-Marc van Tol made a drawing based on existing work from the seventeenth century.

Johan de Witt (1625-1672) as Grand Pensionary exchanged tens of thousands of letters with kings, diplomats, regents and family members. These letters are kept in the National Archives in The Hague. Johan de Witt’s correspondence project group of the Huygens Institute for History of the Netherlands is currently working on digitizing and making these letters accessible. In 2019, the first part became available online: diplomatic correspondence.

The collection Johan de Witt en Engeland was previously published on the basis of this research. Johan de Witt and France is now published: an anthology of letters that highlights the diversity of De Witt’s French correspondence. It contains prints of the original letters with an explanation, a transcription and translation. The translation into modern Dutch and the beautiful illustrations make this selection of unexplored source material accessible to a wide audience. The collection has been compiled by Ineke Huysman, researcher at Huygens ING and project manager of the Correspondence of Johan de Witt, and Roosje Peeters, guest researcher at the project. Contributions are from all members and guest researchers. The illustrations are by Jean-Marc van Tol, who is also a guest researcher on the project.

The enormous correspondence offers a special insight into the use of power during that turbulent time, in the middle of the seventeenth century. Trade interests, land wars, troubles surrounding Louis the Fourteenth, secret agreements, peace talks, everything is discussed. The book will be published September 16 by Catullus.

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