The correspondence of Constantijn Huygens 1608-1687

Constantijn Huygens was very conscientiously raised by his father Christiaan, secretary to William of Orange and the Council of State. Constantijn went on various trips abroad participating in embassies. In 1625, he was appointed secretary to Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik. Huygens often accompanied the stedendwinger (conqueror of cities) on his trips in the field. William II retained him in his position of secretary and he also served the House of Orange as a counsellor and member of the Exchequer. For many decades, Constantijn fulfilled a pivotal role at the court in this way. In addition, Huygens’ family was related to influential court officials and civil servants in The Hague. Through this correspondence, researchers can gain insight into the numerous important issues and influential people of the seventeenth century.

The correspondence can be accessed through a database that can be searched according to date, correspondent, place of sending and location. For virtually all the correspondence there is a link to a digitised version of the correspondence edited by J.A. Worp in the Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën (series of source editions). The information on the letters is not always complete and is being gradually supplemented. The new letters that were not published by Worp will also be added. The database thus offers more than the Worp edition. Click here for more details on this expansion and the future of this project.

Within the framework of the exhibition ‘Vrouwen rondom Constantijn Huygens’ [The Women Around Constantijn Hujgens](9 April-27 June 2010) that was held in the Huygens Hofwijck Museum and the Leidschendam-Voorburg Stadsmuseum, the Huygens ING has significantly expanded the database in cooperation with the Royal Archival Collections and the National Library of the Netherlands. Of the 1,660 letters Constantijn Huygens wrote to 185 different women, 996 letters from the Royal Archival Collections are now available in digital format. 422 letters from the National Library are available in a provisional digitised format, in anticipation of digitalised microfilm.