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De vormgeving van de vroege Friese geschiedschrijving

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image of Oud Holland - Journal for Art of the Low Countries

Begun in 1568, the revolt of the Netherlands against the Spanish stimulated every Dutch province to strive to attain the greatest possible autonomy and independence from the dominant province of Holland. One of the arguments forwarded for pursuing this independent course was how ancient a region was (laudatio ex vetustate). Incidentally, it was Holland with its Batavian myth that had a strong suit in hand in this matter. To counter this, historiographers were appointed to confirm their region's age. In this capacity, the States of Friesland designated Suffridus Petrus (1527-1597), Bernardus Furmerius (1542-1616) and Pierius Winsemius (1586-1644) consecutively. Relying on traditional accounts, which they believed were ancient, Petrus and Furmerius established a line of legendary Frisian monarchs, beginning with Friso - banished from India - who was said to be a descendant of Noah's son Sem. The results of their scholarly research were published in small-scale, unillustrated books in Latin. Not officially commissioned as a historiographer, around 1597 Martinus Hamconius (c. 1550-1620), wrote an acrostic on the name of Suffridus Petrus, which comprised an ekphrasis with an animated description of the legendary Frisians. In 1606 he also devised a table (fig. i) in which all the characters who played a role in the illustrious history of Friesland are described in Latin. This cast of characters was published again in 1617, this time in Dutch (fig. 2). A lost copy of this edition featured illustrations (fig. 3), which were reused in an edition of Hamconius' Frisia (1620) (figs. 17, 20, 21). The tableau of 1617 includes several old Frisian traditional costumes (fig. 10). All the prints were made by Pieter Feddes of Harlingen. A second set of illustrations of the Frisian princes was etched by Simon Wynhoutsz. Frisius around 1617. These prints, known only from Pierius Winsemius' Chronique of 1622 (figs. 15, 18, 19), originally constituted a consecutive series (fig. 13), doubtless intended to illustrate Hamconius' treatise and probably made for his publisher Jan Lamrinck, who (according to the author's hypothesis) could not use it and thus cut down the plates and included them in Winsemius' Chronique, which he also published. A third, incomplete series of illustrations (fig. 14), again by Pieter Feddes, was likewise made to illustrate Hamconius' series, but may have been rejected and likewise used in the Chronique. Some details in four of the figures in both series (figs. 15-23) seem to point to the iconographic tradition of the free Frisian countryman.


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