Adriaen Koerbagh: A Life


This Thursday will see the launch of the first full biography of one of the greatest exponents of what Jonathan Israel has called the Radical Enlightenment, Adriaen Koerbagh (1632-1669), in the pleasant surroundings of Amsterdam’s Special Collections on Oude Turfmarkt.

Published by Vantilt in Nijmegen, Adriaen Koerbagh: Het noodlot van een ketter (‘Adriaen Koerbagh: A heretic’s fate’) is the first full-fledged biography of this great enlightener of the people. K.O. Meinsma had devoted a lengthy chapter on Adriaen and his slightly younger brother Johannes in his seminal ‘Spinoza en zijn kring’ (first published 1896), but it is Bart Leeuwenburgh, 17th-century expert and acclaimed author of Darwin in Domineesland, who has now produced not only a biography of Koerbagh but also a lively introduction into the political, religious and social conditions of the Dutch Republic in the second half of the seventeenth century.

Title-page of Bloemhof with Koerbagh’s name.

The Ritman Library owns a copy of Adriaen Koerbagh’s Een bloemhof van allerley lieflijkheyd sonder verdriet (1668), the work that sealed Koerbagh’s fate as a heretic.

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