Tag Archives: Utrecht

For the common good: International legal history and collective action

Every month there is a growing chance of encountering some kind of commemoration of historical events and figures. Sometimes these festivities are indeed an opportunity to look at them with fresh eyes, but often these occasions can seem too much of a good thing. In recent years there has been a proliferation of international days, some of them just a funny parody, for example on March 31 the sixth Hug A Medievalist Day! On April 14, 2016 it is the International Legal History Day. At least one university, Harvard, organizes today a seminar about the practices and challenges of doing international legal history. It seems Harvard Law School wants to launch this day as a new tradition.

In this post I will look at two initiatives dealing with a concept which touches many countries and regions all over the world. Commons are shared stretches of land used and owned by several people. Commons can be defined as a type of collective action. An international research project is at the heart of this post, and I will also look at a digital library which helps you to trace relevant literature about commons. One of the features of this post will be the combination of global phenomena with local examples transcending the boundaries of nations and states.

Sharing lands, goods and much more

Header Institutions for Collective Action

When I first saw the portal of Institutions for Collective Action (ICA) I was genuinely surprised by the all-encompassing umbrella used to bring a number of institutions under one denominator. Commons are perhaps the institution most quickly associated with collective action, and they will certainly fill much space here, but there is more. Merely contemplating what kind of actions you will define as collective actions is in my view already a fruitful exercise. Five types of collective actions figure at the portal: commons, guilds, waterboards, beguinages and co-operatives. The ICA portal cites on its homepage Bertrand Russell’s dictum ‘The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation’. Currently there is a set of case studies from eight countries for the five types, with 23 examples for commons, four for guilds, eight for waterboards and only two for co-operatives, and typically for beguinages six examples from the Netherlands and Belgium. The eight countries are apart from Belgium and the Netherlands the United Kingdom, Greece, Portugal, Rumania, Spain and Uganda. The cases from Rumania concern commons, the example for Uganda is a co-operative project for micro-finance. In fact there are more countries: in the section for guilds France, Italy, Germany and China are added.

One of the strengths of this portal is the comprehensive coverage of many aspects of research into institutions for collective actions, and thus you are really looking at a veritable portal. You can consult not only the case studies and general overviews, but also online bibliographies, glossaries, datasets and sources, and you might be interested in the announcements of scholarly events. The section with debates highlights a number of general and specific questions about the types of collective actions figuring on the portal. These questions will certainly help you to refine your own analysis. I found in particular the discussion of the various forms of institutions for water management illuminating. The perspective on Dutch institutions becomes sharper thanks to the comparison with Spanish institutions. I really learned here something also about the Dutch variety of these institutions and the need to look at them more closely. The page with links to related projects shows the context of this project in which scholars at Utrecht have substantial roles. An offspring of the ICA portal are several projects which work with crowdsourcing. Inviting the public to participate in research projects by transcribing or indexing sources is in itself a kind of collective action. The heading Citizen Science is fitting indeed.

Website Vele Handen and the Ja, ik wil project

At least one of them should attract your curiosity because of its legal nature, the project Ja, ik wil (“Yes, I do”) for the transcription of pre-marriage acts between 1578 and 1811 from the municipal archive in Amsterdam, a resource with much more information about people going to be married than you will find elsewhere. The transcribing portal Vele Handen (“Many Hands”) contains more information about the project (in Dutch). In its turn this project serves a much larger research project of the ICA team to compare marriage patterns.

Banner Digital Library of the Commons

The main organization dealing with the history and current situation of common is the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC). At the website of IASC, too, you can find an overview of online resources. Some years ago I already encountered the Digital Library for the Commons, a digital collection at Indiana University, but so far I had not started to place this initiative in a wider context. The digitized literature in this library deals with commons on literally every continent, even Antarctica, but not the Arctic region. The simple search mode, the advanced search mode and the filters for browsing are most helpful. In my view it is stimulating to look here, even if you do not quite find what you are searching for.

Although it is easy to expand the fairly summarized information presented here it might work better to keep this contribution shorter than usual. Environmental history is just an example that can be connected with studying commons. At the blog Environment, Law and History you can pursue this direction. Global legal history and comparative legal history do not appear here for the first time. The theme of international legal history deserves attention, and not just on one particular day every year, but the idea is surely valuable. When I started this blog I promised my readers to look for themes and subjects from around the world. There are enough countries, regions and landscapes about which I can write here. Perhaps it is more important to discuss them here not for the sake of completeness, but preferably and more interestingly in connection with the kind of problems and questions which belong to the world of legal history.

Legacies in brick

The main building of the Bruntenhof, Utrecht

Somehow the walking historian has not appeared at all here this year, but I did certainly walk in 2015 at various locations. One of my recent tours led me to a subject fit for a new contribution. In the old inner city of Utrecht you can spot among the nearly one thousand historic buildings at least three buildings with a clear connection to lawyers from the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Two of them still have a function connected with the aim of their founders. In this post I would like to introduce you to the three buildings, their background and to the lawyers who founded them.

The Bruntenhof

The first foundation I would like to show you is the Bruntenhof, a charitable foundation created in 1621 by Frederik Brunt. Its buildings have been lovingly restored between 1979 and 1983. For some reason the very sign at the entrance “ANNO 1621” has not yet been renewed after recent painting work. You can find a lot of information about old buildings in Utrecht in the Utrechts Documentatiesyteem (UDS), with maps, old and modern photographs, research notes and scans of relevant publications about historic buildings. At present the Bruntenhof is a property of the Utrechts Monumentenfonds, a foundation which owns more than one hundred historic buildings. Their website gives a good succinct overview of the history of the Bruntenhof. Frederik Brunt used the garden of his own home Klein Lepelenburg as the space for his foundation with fifteen small houses called cameren, “chambers”, houses with just one room. Brunt also made provisions for fuel, food and other means of livings, and this made his foundation uncommon. His heirs did something which Brunt must have intended but had not dictated. As a Roman Catholic living in a protestant country he wisely did not say anything about religion in the foundation charters, but he wanted poor Roman Catholic widows to live in the Bruntenhof.

I tried to find more information about Frederik Brunt, but apart from genealogical information nothing did surface immediately. Interestingly, I did find online the registration of his death (“Mr. Frederick Brunt, licentiaet”) on March 30, 1622 in a transcribed register for the tolling of bells of Utrecht Cathedral (register van overluiden) between 1614 and 1651 [P.A.N.S. van Meurs, Overluidingen te Utrecht 1614-1651]. This register mentions often the occupations and academic degrees of the deceased, and thus you might use it also to find quickly other lawyers in Utrecht during the first half of the seventeenth century. It was surprising to find this register among other digitized resources for the history of Utrecht at GeneaKnowHow in its section for digitized sources. There is a much more reliable modern transcription of a similar register for the years 1562 to 1614 which shows the sums paid for tolling the bells. For quick information about persons not included in biographical dictionaries such registers can be quite useful. The time the bells tolled and the amount of money often show the status of the deceased. J.W.C. van Campen, for many decades head of the municipal archive of Utrecht, made many notes about the area around the Bruntenhof and the Brunt family [Utrecht, Het Utrechts Archief (HUA), Verzameling historisch werkmateriaal, no. 666].

The Gronsveltcameren

The Gronsveltcameren

Smaller than Brunt’s foundation are the six cameren, one-room buildings erected in 1652 to fulfill the will of Johan van Gronsvelt who had stipulated this should happen when his wife died. A stone in the building indicated he was a barrister at the Court of Utrecht. The register mentioned above puts his death at August 5, 1642. These houses stand originally in the Agnietenstraat, but they had to move in the eighteenth century for another foundation, a combination of orphanage and surveyors school, the Fundatie van Renswoude (1754). In 1756 the houses were rebuilt in the Nicolaasdwarsstraat near the Nicolaaskerk (St. Nicholas). An inscription with a chronogram in it to show the year to those people who know this kind of riddle. The second half of this inscription merits attention, Uit liifde puur gesticht door loutre charitaat / Tot Bystand van de lien om Godswil anders niit, “Founded from pure love by charity alone / As a support of people for Gods will and nothing else”. A second inscription below it tells us about the removal in 1756.

When walking here in November an acquaintance pointed to the difference in the model of the rain gutters which according to her had to do with the religious background of the people living in a particular house. In fact there had been a fight over the management of this foundation and after a split-up maintenance was done differently ever since. Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 were maintained since 1719 by the Roman Catholic almshouse, the other two by the original foundation. In 1746 the almshouse itself was split into an “Old Catholic” office responsible for the houses 5 and 6, and a Roman Catholic office for nos. 1 and 2. After the removal of 1756 different ways of maintenance continued. A housing corporation currently owns the Gronsveltcameren.

Of course I have looked at the inventory of the archive of the provincial court of Utrecht kept at Het Utrechts Archief, but there is no separate register of advocates and barristers. However, with the third lawyer we will look at a person whose legal practice, too, will come into view.

Evert van de Poll, a veritable founder

The workhouse founded by Evert van de Poll

At the other side of the Nicolaasdwarsstraat is a much older building, a former monastery, the location of one of the foundations created by Evert van de Poll. Den VIIIen Septembris mr. Evert van de Poll, raet ende advocaet van de edele heeren Staten sLants van Utrecht, II uren met Salvator, XII gl. reads the notice in the account for the tolling of bells in 1602. The fine history of Utrecht University Library published in 1986 did tell the story of the books which entered in 1602 the municipal library, the core of the university’s library founded in 1636, but the exact date of Van de Poll’s death was not known thirty years ago.1 The books from Van de Poll’s legacy were inscribed with a note “Ex dono Ev. Pollionis”. However, the authors duly noted a notice from 1609 about his foundation of a workhouse for the poor. His explicit aim was to help and educate poor children in order to prevent them becoming vagabonds and people without work whose live would end badly.

This text echoes the very inscription found above the entrance of the workhouse, “(…) hating all idleness (…) erected for those who prefer to win a living with work above empty begging (…)”. The archive of this foundation at Het Utrechts Archief is not very large, and thus it is well worth pointing here to a resolutieboek, a register with decisions of the board of directors for the period 1634 to 1751 kept in the Dutch National Archives in The Hague as part of the archival collection of the Calkoen family [NA, Familiearchief Calkoen, inv. no. 1687]. In the eighteenth century the workhouse did not function properly anymore, and the main purpose became providing poor people with some money (preuve), paid with the rents coming from four apartments created in the former workhouse. Van de Poll founded a second workhouse at Amersfoort, and a small archival collection survives at the Nationaal Archief.

The inscription above the entrance of the workhouse founded by Evert van de Poll

Let’s look here somewhat longer at Evert van de Poll. He was probably born around 1560. His father had been the city secretary of Utrecht, and his mother was the sister of Floris Thin, the advocate of the Dutch Republic. In 1580 he started studying law in Leiden, and in 1587 he matriculated at Heidelberg. In 1597 he had become the advocate of the States of Utrecht. Recently John Tholen wrote in the year book of the historical society Oud-Utrecht about the humanistic interests of Van de Poll who exchanged letters with Justus Lipsius, and had even lived two years in his house.2 In Utrecht van de Poll lived in a large house on the spot of the present-day building at Drift 21, one of the houses formerly belonging to the canons of the collegiate chapter of St. John’s.3

Again at the Janskerkhof

Header Huizen aan het Janskerkhof

The banner image of Huizen aan het Janskerkhof

The website Huizen aan het Janskerkhof of Caroline Pelser gives a nice overview of the consecutive possessors of Van de Poll’s house near the Janskerkhof. Interestingly Van de Poll inherited the house in 1580 from Floris Thin. Nowadays Drift 21 is part of the inner city location of Utrecht University Library. Van de Poll’s printed books and manuscripts are at the modern building of this library on the campus east of the old city, where they are kept within the Special Collections. At her website Caroline Pelser has created a most useful index of important online finding aids at Het Utrechts Archief concerning law and justice in Utrecht, with also links to digitzed printed accounts of some cases heard and verdicts given at Utrecht in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and last nut not least digitized printed ordinances for court procedure, both for the municipal court and the provincial court.

We have looked here at three lawyers and their contribution to Dutch society after their death, and surely more can be said about them and about their colleagues, but for now we have come to the end of this walk. The Janskerkhof has figured at my blog already several times, in particular in some seasonal postings. This year winter seems far away. In December the weather at Utrecht has even broken all records since 1901 for high temperatures. Anyway it is fitting indeed to end this year’s contributions again at and near the Janskerkhof. The States of Utrecht convened since 1579 in a former Franciscan convent at the Janskerkhof, in the twentieth century for thirty years home to the law library of Utrecht University. Between 1597 and 1602 Evert van de Poll must have visited this building often. A part of the Janskerk was since 1584 home to the city library and from 1634 onwards until 1820 for the university library. Next year I would like to look somewhat longer at Van de Poll, his books and his activity as a lawyer. I hope you liked this tour of Utrecht, and welcome here again in 2016!

1. D. Grosheide, A.D.A. Monna and P.G.N. Pesch (eds.), Vier eeuwen Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht, I: De eerste drie eeuwen (Utrecht 1986) 37-40.
2. John Tholen, ‘Zonder pracht of pomp : Evert van de Poll en zijn verlangen naar de muzen’, Jaarboek Oud-Utrecht 2012, 69-90.
3. Marceline Dolfin, E.M. Kylstra and Jean Penders, Utrecht. De huizen binnen de singels. Beschrijving (The Hague 1989) 330-335.

An early detective? Jan van Scorel and a supposed papal murder case

PopeAdrian VI - painting by Jan van Scorel, 1523 - Utrecht, Centraal Museum

Pope Adrian VI – painting by Jan van Scorel, 1523 – Utrecht, Centraal Museum

If you had told me in 2013 I would one day write about legal history and graphic novels I would have severely doubted the truth of such a statement, but suddenly this combination became a reality when I heard about an exposition at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, my home town. The focuses of the exhibition are a sixteenth-century Dutch painter, Jan van Scorel (1495-1562), and contemporary artist Paul Teng. Together with writer Jan Paul Schutten Teng has created a graphic novel on Van Scorel and his investigation of a mysterious death in Rome. Pope Adrian VI, the only Dutch pope, reigned the Catholic Church for only one year. His death on September 14, 1523, came rather suddenly. Jan Paul Schutten and Paul Teng created a story using historical facts to create a fictional account of a murder investigation started by Van Scorel who suspected that his compatriot might have been murdered. Jan van Scorel, Sede Vacante 1523 is the title of both the graphic novel and the exhibition. The 80 page book has also appeared in an English version.

The entrance to the exhibition at the Centraal Museum

In this post I would like to look at the creative process of two contemporary artists working with historical facts and their own imagination. Rumours that Adrian VI’s death was caused by poison have never been conclusively confirmed nor rejected as utter fantasy. The pope died after an illness of a month. An anecdote states that the Roman people thanked the physician who had taken care of the ailing pope. For the preparation of the graphic novel Teng and Schutten used historical sources. They looked carefully at the history of art in the early sixteenth century, helped by the collections of the Centraal Museum with several paintings by Van Scorel.

Setting the scene

Paul Teng took much care to make the historical surroundings of his novel as realistic and reliable as possible. He used early sixteenth-century paintings, drawings and engravings to ensure that locations in Rome and elsewhere are depicted faithfully. This means for instance that the basilica of St. Peter’s and the Vatican itself are shown as building sites. In the gallery with some photographs I took at the exhibition you can see other aspects of the creative process as well. From a story board with dialogues written by Schutten Teng took his lead to make sketches of the story. The exhibition shows the full sequence of the book in black and white. Some scenes are shown in their final coloured version. People are invited to draw themselves a page of a graphic novel on a chosen theme,

Accumulating functions and wealth


Pope Adrian VI (1459-1523) was born at Utrecht as Adriaen Floriszoon Boeyens. He studied theology at the university of Louvain, and he became a professor of theology at this university in 1489. In 1507 the Habsburg emperor Maximilian asked him to become one of the teachers of the future emperor Charles V. In 1516 he became the bishop of Tortosa in Spain. A year later he was created a cardinal. Charles V made him 1518 inquisitor-general of Castile and Aragón. Adrian became even the regent of Spain. During the minority of Charles V he had already been co-regent of Spain together with cardinal Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros.

Statue of Christ Saviour in the facade of Paushuize, Utrecht

Until 1522 Adrian got a large part of his income from prebends at several collegiate churches in the Low Countries and Spain. The very number of prebends pope Julius II allowed him to have in 1512 was restricted to four. Adrian finally became a canon of four churches in Utrecht: he was a canon at St. Peter’s and at Utrecht Cathedral (St. Martin’s) , treasurer of St. Mary’s and provost of St. Salvator’s (Oudmunster). However, the actual number of prebends he held was larger, and two prebends were shrewdly changed into annuities. His canonry at St. Peter’s in Utrecht enabled him to designate premises within the immunity of St. Peter’s as the site of a large house, a palace really, where he would have liked to live in Utrecht in good time. Adrian never saw the palace still called Paushuize, “The Pope’s House”. Interestingly, a statue in the facade shows Christ Saviour as a reminder he was the provost of the Salvator collegiate church. R.R. Post unravelled the history of these prebends in a fine article published in 1961 [‘Studiën over Adriaan VI. De beneficies van Adriaan VI’, Archief voor de Geschiedenis van de Katholieke Kerk in Nederland 3 (1961) 341-351; online at the Trajecta portal for the ecclesiastical history of the Low Countries, with digital versions of five scientific journals in this field].

There is a clear paradox between Adrian VI’s reputation as a pope who wanted the Church to live humbly, without unnecessary adornments and wealth, and his personal history in which he combined a large number of offices and accompanying revenues. In one of the scenes in which Teng depicts a meeting between pope Adrian and Jan van Scorel they discuss the plan to select art treasures from the Vatican’s holdings in order to sell them off to get money for the empty papal treasury.

The graphic novel opens with a scene showing a ritual which was long said to exist, the formal test done by the camerlengo to ascertain a pope’s death, by calling out thrice his baptismal name, “Adriane, dormisne” (Adrian, are you sleeping?), and giving a slight blow on his head with a special hammer. It is hard to find any real evidence for this custom, which if it really existed at all already ceased to happen in the seventeenth century. Today the camerlengo still has the task to certify the death of a pope. However, it is certainly followed by the immediate destruction of the papal ring, an element Teng and Schutten correctly added immediately after the scene with the probing camerlengo.

Here I will not spoil the joy of anyone wanting to enjoy and read the book by Teng and Schutten by giving away the plot or pronouncing verdicts on the historical veracity or plausibility of the facts they describe. They admit to have added some minor figures to ensure the story can run as it does. Giving Van Scorel a servant is just a time-honoured homage to the practice of detective novels with an investigator and his faithful assistant. The story told by Teng and Schutten can serve as an invitation to look anew at the stories historians like to tell. They can learn from the skillful way Teng shows a sequence of scenes, using for example close-ups to focus on details or general scenes to set the background of events. The funeral of pope Adrian VI in the basilica of St. Peter’s which for a large part still lacked a roof, is shown in true detail.

Adrian’s burial at St. Peter’s was followed by a translatio of his body in 1533 to the church of Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome. By the way, this church started its life as a hospice for pilgrims founded in 1350 by Jan Peters, a rich baker from Dordrecht. The German project REQUIEM on the tombs and monuments of opes and cardinals in Rome between 1500 and 1800 has an extended entry on this monument. At his tomb in St. Peter’s the inscription said Adrian had considered his duty to reign as the most unhappy part of his life. The inscription on his large-scale monument within the Santa Maria dell’Anima reads in translation: “O how much does the time matter in which the virtue of even the best man happens”. These words seem to have inspired the title of the latest biography of pope Adrian VI by Michiel Verweij, Adrianus VI (1459-1523) : de tragische paus uit de Nederlanden (Utrecht 2011). At Deutsche Inschriften Online you will find the book by Eberhard J. Nikitsch on the inscriptions of this church, Die Inschriften der “Deutschen Nationalkirche” Santa Maria dell’Anima, I: Vom Mittelalter bis 1559 (Rome 2012). The essays in the exhibition catalogue De paus uit de Lage Landen Adrianus VI, 1459-1523 (Louvain 2009) help to put Adrian’s life into perspective.

Jan van Scorel came back to the Low Countries imbued with Renaissance ideas which he promptly used in his paintings. The great German art historian Max Friedländer once said Van Scorel had a role for Dutch painting in the sixteenth century similar to that of Peter Paul Rubens for Flemish painting in the next century. In particular his group portraits were an important innovation. In 1528 Van Scorel got a canonry at St. Mary’s in Utrecht, thus giving him a part of the financial background which had helped Adriaen Boeyens during his long ecclesiastical career. Last year I wrote a post about the project Medieval Memoria Online. Jan van Scorel is connected to several memorial objects. A part of the floor slab of his grave from the collegiate church of St. Mary’s  is now kept at the Museum Het Catharijneconvent in Utrecht (MeMo no. 3006). His group portraits of members of the Jerusalem confraternities in Haarlem and Utrecht are also described in the MeMo database (MeMo nos. 669, 671, 672, 716 and 746).

History, historians and images

Let’s close this post with a number of questions: can historians still create stories mainly using words? Is it not necessary nowadays to be at least very much aware of the imagery created by visual media? The creators of blogs are familiar with these questions and try to provide their own answers. Especially when a story does not unfold itself in the standard way movies and televisions series like to show them it is important to be aware of the (visual) expectations of your public. If people ask you for telling images, they are absolutely right to ask this from you! It will be your duty to come with reliable images or to tell what illusions, allusions and deviations images might contain. Professional pictorial research is most certainly one of the historian’s duties. You will need both your imagination and sound knowledge, helped by historical images, to create images in the mind of your readers which help both you and them to get to the core of historical events and persons. Misgivings about historical inaccuracies that occur in the choice or the use of images should not be the final aim of any criticism, but an outright challenge to produce yourself history which benefits substantially from the proper use of images and imagery.

Jan van Scorel, Sede Vacante 1523 – exhibition Utrecht, Centraal Museum, October 19, 2013 – January 19, 2014
Jan van Scorel, Sede Vacante 1523, drawings by Paul Teng, scenario by Jan Paul Schutten, colours Dina Kathelyn Tourneur (Eindhoven: Lecturis, 2013; 80 p.; ISBN 978-94-6226020-7)

Lawyers and remembrance: looking at medieval tombstones

At the start of a new academic year I would like to share here a subject which for many people recalls holidays with visits to old cities and monumental buildings. This post is clearly a late summer posting! Every now and then you might spot somewhere an object commemorating a lawyer. When you visit for example a medieval church you might find tombstones with clear indications of the profession of the deceased. In the last decades huge efforts have been made to make research for medieval tombstones more efficient and more contextual. This year’s launch of the Dutch database Medieval Memoria Online prompted me to look into this project for traces of lawyers, and to look at some comparable projects elsewhere in Europe. For this contribution I got also in particular inspiration from the marvellous ongoing series of posts on nineteenth-century American cemeteries and monuments by Alfred Brophy at The Faculty Lounge.

Captured in stone

Logo Mesieval Memoria Online

The database of the project Medieval Memoria Online, accessible in English and Dutch, has been developed at Utrecht University by a team of scholars led by art historian Truus van Bueren. The project documents not only tombs and floor slabs, but also memorial registers, memorial pieces and narrative sources with a function in commemorating people. The project focused on the Northern Netherlands in the fifteenth century, but there is also a provisional online inventory of wall-mounted memorials in the Southern Netherlands – roughly present-day Belgium – between 1380 and 1520, and a glossary of terms in Dutch, English and German. When I saw the project of Sophie Oosterwijk and Charlotte Dikken on the floor slabs of St. Michael’s at Oudewater I quickly added this information to my recent post about Oudewater.

In an article I wrote in 1994 on medieval lawyers and working habits I could refer to the study by Renzo Grandi, I monumenti dei dottori e la scultura a Bologna (1267-1348) (Bologna 1982) with many pictures of sepulchral monuments for lawyers in Bologna. Many of them are now at the Museo Civico Medievale. Some of these monuments show a law professor during his teaching. Several monuments can still be seen in situ. One of the earliest modern illustrated publications about them is by Alfonso Rubbiani, Le tombe di Accursio, di Odofredo e di Rolandino de’ Romanzi glossatori nel secolo XIII (Bologna 1887).

The tomb of Dirk van Wassenaer - Utrecht, Janskerk

The tomb of Dirk van Wassenaer – Utrecht, Janskerk, around 1465

Let’s turn back to the Netherlands and look at some examples of tombstones and other memorial objects commemorating lawyers and people trained as lawyers. My main example is the tomb of Dirk van Wassenaer (memorial object no. 2527) at the Janskerk (St. John’s) in Utrecht. The Memoria database carefully distinguishes between information about the wall memorial, the tomb, the inscriptions, the heraldic arms, personal information and information on locations. In this case the inscription at the wall provides part of the personal information. Dirk van Wassenaer died in 1465. He was the son of the burggraaf (viscount) of Leiden. He had been a parish priest at Leiden, a canon at Utrecht Cathedral (St. Martin’s), a provost at the collegiate church of St. Pancras in Leiden since 1416, archdeacon at the Janskerk, and a protonotarius papae, a papal protonotary.

Wall memorial of Dirk van Wassenaer

Wall memorial of Dirk van Wassenaer – Utrecht, Janskerk, around 1465

When I read the notice on the wall memorial I wrote at first that the heraldic description in the Memoria database of both the tomb and the wall memorial was not complete and partially incorrect, but the database has separate entries for the tomb and the wall memorial. The tomb monument has been described separately (MeMo no. 2960), where you will find clear descriptions of the four arms. The description of the galero, the black hat, is not correct. It is not a cardinal’s hat, which would show red cords and fifteen tassels at each side, but a more simple canon’s hat with just six tassels, not even the hat of an apostolic protonotary, with twelve tassels. The galero might symbolize the deanery held by Van Wassenaer, a suggestion given elsewhere in the description. The database provides an image of a drawing made in 1636 by Pieter Saenredam showing the tomb and the memorial in the St. Anthony’s chapel in the north aisle of the church, a chapel founded by Van Wassenaer. Today both objects are in the south part of the transept, a fact duly noted in the description of the tomb. For a database on this scale it is perhaps just wanting too much if literature on Van Wassenaer is not mentioned. Describing the objects systematically is already asking much. I could easily track an article by O.A. Spitzen, ‘Het grafschrift van proost Dirk van Wassenaer in de St. Janskerk te Utrecht’, Archief voor de geschiedenis van het Aartsbisdom Utrecht 17 (1889) 307-333 (online at the Trajecta portal for Dutch and Belgian ecclesiastical history).

It seems I was not completely lucky in choosing my main example: instead of protonotary the notice on Van Wassenaer reads prenotary, an unfortunate mistake when you want to look for other protonotaries. By the way, we deal here with honorary protonotaries, not actual officials of the Roman curia. One of the strengths of the database is the clear separation of personal information and information about objects. The same person might be commemorated in several places or he might be mentioned in a necrological register, but he or she could also be the founder of a memorial for someone else. The second example of a protonotary helps to show this variety.

A floor slab for provost Cornelis van Mierop (died 1572) at St. Martin’s in Utrecht was destroyed during the last restoration thirty years ago (MeMO no. 2934). Van Mierop, too, was a protonotary, and the inscription on his tomb, luckily preserved in a manuscript with many drawings of tombs and windows, stated he had been also a counsellor to the king of Spain (regis Hispaniae a consiliis). His portrait can be seen in a stained glass window depicting Christ giving his first sermon at the Grote or St. Janskerk in Gouda (MeMO no. 870), and in yet another window at the Grote or St. Jacobskerk (St. James’) in The Hague (MeMO no. 3012), showing him as the dean of the fourteen canons of the chapter of the Hofkapel (Court Chapel). Both windows were created by Dirk Crabeth.

The third example of a protonotary is even richer. The floor slab of the grave of Antonis Fürstenberg was found as recently as 1980 in Nijmegen and can now be seen at the Museum Het Valkhof (MeMO no. 2272). Fürstenberg was born around 1480 in Westphalia. He studied law at Bologna and received his doctoral degree (decretorum doctor) in 1498, and he held also a bachelor’s degree in theology. He was a law professor at the university of Copenhagen and provost of the convent Borglum in Jutland (praepositus Burglaviensis). A fourth protonotary, Adriaan van Isendoorn (died 1566), was buried at Utrecht Cathedral (MeMO no. 79). On the floor slab the title for protonotary reads sedis apostolicae protonotarii (..), a protonotary of the Apostolic See.

A wider context

Of course you need to combine the information provided by the Memoria database with data found elsewhere. Last year I wrote a post about a number of online prosopographic databases for Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Alas I could not find our four protonotaries in the databases of Germania Sacra, nor at Prosopographica Burgundica. One of the online resources which helps you finding scholars in the German Holy Roman Empire between 1250 and 1550 is the Repertorium Academicum Germanicum.

The Dutch Memoria project is certainly not the only scientific enterprise to present medieval inscriptions online. The German project Deutsche Inschriften Online brings you to inscriptions from several towns, monasteries and dioceses during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. At Epigraphica Europea (Universität München) you will find links to many European projects for online access to medieval and later inscriptions. Among the more specific and well-defined projects is REQUIEM, a German database for the tombs of cardinals and popes in Rome from 1420 to 1798. In this database I found for example that cardinal Pietro Pamfili-Colonna (1725-1780) had been a functioning apostolic protonotary (protonotarius apostolicus de numero participantium) from 1750 to 1761 after his promotion in 1750 as a doctor utriusque iuris at the university of La Sapienza. In 2006 the Università degli Studi di Padova launched the website Le sepolture regie del regno italico (secoli VI-X concerning royal graves and monuments in Italy from the sixth to the tenth century, with a focus on the historical background and less information about the actual buildings and tombs.

The manuscripts of Buchelius

In passing I noted a manuscript preserving the text of a floor slab at Utrecht Cathedral. It was created by Aernout van Buchell (Buchelius) (1565-1646) who lived in Utrecht, but made also some travels abroad. At Het Utrechts Archief, Utrecht University Library and at Tresoar, the Frisian archive in Leeuwarden, three illustrated manuscripts created by Van Buchell are kept which add much to the information in the Memoria database. Van Buchel saw many churches, and even though he did make mistakes his work is still valuable. These three manuscripts can be searched online. His Diarium, a travel diary kept at the Special Collections of Utrecht University Library (ms. 798), has been digitized, too. An album amicorum (Leiden, UB, ms. Ltk. 902) was the subject of an exhibition at Leiden University Library, and it has been digitized for an online exhibit. To return once more to apostolic protonotaries, Buchelius mentions Johan Ingenwinckel, a provost of St. John’s, Utrecht, who died in Rome in 1534. Van Buchel’s notes about the Dutch East India Company and his work for the Amsterdam chamber, held at the Nationaal Archief, have been transcribed, too. No doubt his fame rests upon his copy of a drawing around 1596 of The Swan theatre in London (Utrecht, UB, ms. 842, fol. 132 r). You can read the Dutch version (2000) of Judith Pollman’s biography of Buchelius, Een andere weg naar God. De reformatie van Arnoldus Buchelius (1565-1641), online in the Digital Library of Dutch Literature.

If you look in the Memoria database for persons with a legal degree, be it a doctorate utriusque iuris, a doctor or licentiatus decretorum, you will find interesting results, even when their actual number is small. To wet your appetite a last example: in Arnhem you can find in the Grote or Eusebiuskerk the tomb of Joost Sasbout (1487-1546), first from 1515 to 1535 a councillor at the Court of Holland and afterwards chancellor of Guelders, and his wife Catharina van der Meer. The memorial sculpture (MeMO no. 570) might be a work of Colijn de Nole, the sculptor of the famous mantelpiece in the old town hall of Kampen. You can trace many Dutch officials quickly in the online Repertorium van ambtsdragers en ambtenaren 1428-1861. When you use this website together with the online biographic resources at the Dutch Biografisch Portaal you will surely find much valuable information. Rolf de Weijert, one of the members of the Memoria team, told me that unrecorded medieval tombstones are currently being described in the province of Zeeland. They will be added as soon as possible to the database.

For the Medieval Memoria project generic information, including description standards and a database model, is provided to help making similar projects effective and valuable, and to enhance the eventual creation of interfaces between such projects. The Memoria project did start as an art history project, but the efforts to integrate information from this discipline with textual resources transcend the boundaries of one discipline. Medieval Memoria brings you not only inscriptions or tombs and floor slabs, but also relevant texts, an example worth following. It is simply not realistic to expect a database to contain all data you would like to have at your disposal. You can help the Medieval Memoria project and similar enterprises by pointing the scholars behind them to the resources which can enrich them.

Instead of criticising the lack of information for some objects it is wiser to realize that already a relatively small collegiate church such as St. John’s at Utrecht has some thirty memorial objects, and also a necrology from the sixteenth-century. The Sint Janskathedraal at ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc) has more than 500 tombstones which you can study at a special website. Genealogists are probable more aware of cemeteries and tombstones than lawyers and legal historians, but it is most sensible not leave them out on purpose of our studies of subjects related to legal history. The Dutch Genealogical Society presents a nice array of websites concerning cemeteries in my country and abroad. Let this suffice here to indicate a general direction, for one blog post cannot offer the functionality of an omniscient navigation tool on the oceans of questions and scientific knowledge.

Writing at a slow pace

This month it seems I will not be able to write four posts. It feels awkward to break my promise for the continuity of my blog. However, yesterday I had the privilege of being guided to a project in Utrecht which proceeds very slowly indeed. It shows the relativity of joining a Weekly Post Competition or a Post a Day Challenge. This post has at face value only a very slim connection with legal history, but perhaps you might detect here a deeper meaning.

The Letters of Utrecht

Letters of Utrecht - The beginning

On June 2, 2012 Aleid Wolfsen, burgomaster of Utrecht, opened the project The Letters of Utrecht (De Letters van Utrecht) by uncovering a line of stones with the words of a poem in the pavement along the medieval canal Oude Gracht. You have to begin somewhere to give the past its place (“Je zult ergens moeten beginnen om het verleden een plaats te geven”) is the first line by Ruben van Gogh of a poem to be written by a collective of poets working in Utrecht.

To create an impressive start the project showed in June immediately a number of lines, but this was only a consequence of using a convenient starting point. For every week since January 2000 a stone with one letter has been put into place. The pace of one letter every week means the poem will become visible at a very slow speed indeed. At present some 650 stones are visible. Every Saturday afternoon a new stone is prepared in situ by a mason and put into its place.

Letters of Utrecht - The sequel will come next Saturday

The first stone of the project is a gift from The Long Now Foundation hewn from the Sierra Diablo Mountain Range in Texas where a 10,000 Years Clock is being installed since 1996. Behind the project in Utrecht is the Million Generations Foundation, an organization which invites people to think about the future of the earth, its people and civilization in the very long run. Its founder, Michael Münker, my guide yesterday, is also on the board of the foundation for The Letters of Utrecht.

Among the immediate offsprings of the Long Now Foundation are The Rosetta Project for a public digital library with texts from all documented languages, and PanLex, a project for a multilingual translation database and interface. At first the name of the PanLex project led me to guess it aims at creating a database of laws worldwide! In fact you might indeed try to use it as a juridical multilingual dictionary.

Letters of Utrecht - "Guilty"

After spotting in the pavement the word guilty (“schuldigen”) I knew for sure I had a pretext to write here about this project. The word is a part of line in the poem by Ellen Deckwitz where the medieval tower of Utrecht Cathedral points as a finger to heaven to identify the guilty (“…schuldigen aan te wijzen”). My picture of this text is rather vague, but on second thought this can function as a mitigation of the rather strong image provided by the poem.

Letters of Utrecht - The present matters ever less...

Yet another line by Ruben van Gogh near the very start of the poem struck me even more: the present matters ever less (“…het heden doet er steeds minder toe”). The words of this poet run directly against the mainstream of contemporary life. However, it is only in the present that we can read his words and reflect on them, but he provokes us to realize that our view of the present is guided by the past. Is it sheer coincidence to reflect on words by someone named Van Gogh in the very weekend the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam closes for a seven-month renovation? 75 paintings by Vincent van Gogh will be shown temporarily to the public at the Hermitage Amsterdam. Anyway, the present visibility of the project in Utrecht is not only provided by a website, but also by presence on Facebook and Twitter. It is certainly food for thought to look at a project aiming for the ages which is firmly present in the virtual reality using the media where people often seem to focus on actual situations and activities!

Banner "De letters van Utrecht"

Another aspect of The Letters of Utrecht is the use of a font specially created by the Avant la Lettre foundry. The capitals of this font make me wonder about the form of a accompanying basic font  yet to be made. I like the fact that a project which invites you to look into the distant future uses a contemporary font. As for the project in Utrecht it is no wonder if you are reminded of laws carved in stone, a subject touched upon here in some posts here, too (The voice of Hammurabi and Carved in stone). Using stones as a material to make texts visible for all times still has the attraction of one of the ways to reach into eternity. The use of stone is a part of the image a text creates, and thus I decided to include this post not only in the Utrecht section of my blog, but also under the heading Legal iconography.

Utrecht Law Library on the move

Sometimes I try here to transcend borders in time and space, sometimes I discuss or present themes with a Dutch view. This month I realize even more how much filtered my view sometimes can be. After thirty years Utrecht Law Library will move to a new address in the old city of Utrecht. The removal will take place between June 29 and July 23, 2012. The law library travels only a few hundred meters, from the Janskerkhof to the Drift where it will be housed in the University Library City Centre, the second largest location of Utrecht University Library. Time to return books on loan and to take some pictures of the interior and exterior. The law faculty will continue using the building at the Janskerkhof, but for the new offices a renovation is necessary.

Utrecht Law Library, Janskerkhof

The law library with the former entrance to the hall of the States of Utrecht

In 1246 the Franciscans built a convent in Utrecht. When the Reformation came to Utrecht in 1579, the friars had to leave. The States of Utrecht confiscated the building, and it became their residence until the French occupation of The Netherland. Between 1809 and 1811 a tribunal was housed in this building. In the nineteenth century Utrecht University bought the buildings and turned it into a laboratory for the faculty of medicine. The anatomical theatre in the backyard makes it difficult to take good photographs of the medieval parts of the main building. In the late seventies the medical faculty went to the new campus site De Uithof to the east of Utrecht. After drastic renovations the law faculty became the new user. The law library, one of the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, occupied the largest part of the building. With the remains of the old cloisters, the intricate stairs and the many wings the building looks at first as a kind of labyrinth, with even two entrances.

The new premises at the Drift have their own history. The Law Library will use the spaces of a nineteenth-century building which was until 1968 home to the Utrecht City Archives. In the seventies Utrecht University used it for the department of art history, and later as the library of the faculty of humanities. Recently the University Library has come back to the adjacent buildings which had already been its home since the early nineteenth century. The former palace of king Louis Napoleon with its fine ball room has been restored. For me it will be interesting to find the books of the law faculty at the spot where I used to search for books on history and art history. The photo album at Facebook on the renovation of the Drift buildings shows radically altered rooms…

The Law Library at the Janskerkhof

A historic doorway

A wooden ceiling

Inside the building historical details are in particular visible near the main entrance

A corridor on the first floor

The New Journals Room with gothic windows

The room with current issues of legal journals in a wing of the former cloisters still has Gothic windows

Some new issues of legal journals

A sixteenth-century portrait of a friar

On the stairs a painting with a friar looks at you

The loan desk room

The room with the loan desk

Some books on Utrecht and legal history

Some books on Utrecht and legal history!

Empty cabinets

Already no more books in the beautiful cabinets…

The former back entrance of the States of Utrecht Hall

The former back entrance of the main building, with the blazon of the States of Utrecht

Celebrating the Utrecht peace treaty of 1713

Many ways lead to the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) is the translated title of a recent post by Klaus Graf. The post is an example of Graf’s approach to answer a seemingly simple question, to find an electronic version, either a e-text or a digitized version, of the peace treaty signed at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) in 1748. The website Europäische Friedensverträge der Vormoderne (Early Modern European Peace Treaties) of the University of Mainz brings you to manuscript versions of several peace treaties, to separate printed versions and to printed versions in one specific treaty collection, the Theatrum Europaeum. In order to find a printed version, and preferably the one scholars normally use, Graf used both Google Books and Wikipedia to find what he was looking for. Fairly early in his posting Graf points to my weblog for a search strategy when looking for digitized early editions. However, you will not find there immediately a set of neat directions to find digitized editions of peace treaties, but you can certainly use some of the portals and gateways described and used to search for them.

In today’s post I will try to follow-up my rejoinder to Graf’s post at the blog of the AGFNZ in which I point to a number of treaty collections in print, and to create a kind of short guide to digital editions of historical peace treaties. Graf looked for a treaty from 1748, but as we approach the commemoration of the Peace of Utrecht (1713) the overview I propose here might be useful, too. At the end of this rather long post I will try to create an overview of the several online versions of the 1648, 1713 and 1748 peace treaties, and an overview of a number of digitized early modern treaty collections.

One of the things I am arguing in my post is that peace treaties in Early Modern Europe encompassed both multilateral and bilateral treaties. You leave out a lot when you talk about the treaty of Münster, Utrecht or Aix-la-Chapelle, and in fact you are unclear about which specific treaty you are talking. I have included a discussion of the Utrecht peace treaties – the plural is really justifiable – because it ushered a period of almost 25 years with a relatively stable balance of powers. In fact it is the first and classic example of the balance of powers or concert of nations, a contemporary expression. In this rather long post you will also notice the importance of French. The Peace of 1713 definitely established French as the main language for diplomacy well into the twentieth century. For the Dutch Republic the treaties concluded at Utrecht implied a setback in European politics from a major role to a more modest position. In 1713 the French coined the proverbial phrase de vous, chez vous, sans vous: about you, in your place, but without you…

Peace treaties in print and online

Anyone more familiar with Early Modern Europe than I will soon notice when reading my rejoinder in German that I have overlooked a number of websites with online guides to digitized historic materials. Just mentioning the Multilaterals Project of the Fletcher School, Tufts University, the few relevant links given in the Electronic Information System for International Law of the American Society for International Law and their own treaties links collection – however fine it is for modern history and contemporary law – is indeed not enough. Here I will try to make up for my oversight. In particular the German portal historicum.net and the links collection Frühe Neuzeit Digital of the Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, form very useful gateways in this field.

The Peace of Westphalia

The Westphalian Peace of 1648 is perhaps the most important early modern peace treaty, and maybe also the one best served in contemporary and critical editions. In my comment at the AGFNZ I used a guide by Winfried Baumgart, Bücherverzeichnis zur deutschen Geschichte. Hilfsmittel-Handbücher-Quellen (12th ed., Munich 1997). Baumgart provides you not just with the titles of major source collections but gives information about the contents of individual volumes of these sometimes vast collections. Thus you can search more quickly in the six volumes edited by Johann Gotttfrid von Meiern of the Acta pacis Westphalicae publica oder Westphälische Friedens-Handlungen und Geschichte (…) (Hannover 1734-1736; reprint 1969). Even the firm which has led to a new verb for searching the web does not provide an online version of this edition. The Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog, the EMTO at Hagen, the Zentralverzeichnis Digitalisierter Drucke, the Europeana and Hispana gateways to digital collection all splendidly overlook the digitized version pointed at by the portal at Wolfenbüttel: the Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg has not only digitized the six volumes of Von Meiern, but also the Theatrum Europaeum by Johann Philipp Abelinus and others (21 vol., Frankfurt am Main 1646-1738), a major work on European and German political history, and the major treaty collection edited by Johann Christian Lünig (ed.), Das Teutsche Reichs-Archiv (23 volumes and index, Leipzig 1710-1722), the latter is still being digitized, one has reached the twelfth volume. The engravings of the Theatrum Europaeum have also been digitized separately in a higher resolution. How thoughtful, too, of the Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg to create a modern PDF version of the pioneer study on the Theatrum Europaeum by Hermann Bingel, Das Theatrum Europaeum. Ein Beitrag zur Publizistik des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts (Lübeck 1919; reprint Liechtenstein 1982)!

Since 1962 the Arbeitsstelle Westfälischer Frieden von 1648 has published an ongoing series of critical source editions of not only the treaties, but also correspondences, protocols and diaries under the title Acta Pacis Westphalicae (APW). At their website you can consult the various versions of the main peace treaties of Münster and Osnabrück, the Instrumentum Pacis Monasteriensis (IPM) and the Instrumentum Pacis Osnabrugensis (IMO), together with a number of early translations. To my surprise a Dutch contemporary version is missing, but on second thought no Dutch version was ever ratified, and therefore it has been excluded from the APW. The Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN) records at least ten editions. Together with a facsimile of a German and a Latin version a contemporary Dutch version – with a title page different from the titles mentioned in the STCN – has been published in the volume Der Frieden von Münster / De Vrede van Munster 1648 (…), Gerd Dethlefs (ed.) (Münster 1998). Earlier on a Dutch edition of the Münster treaty was published by C. Smit (ed.), Het vredesverdrag van Munster, 30 januari 1648 (Leiden 1948). When searching for a digital version of the Hannover edition at BASE, the Bielefeld Search Engine, it appears that almost all volumes of the APW, the modern critical edition, have been digitized at Munich for the Digitale Sammlungen, but one can only use this digitized version within the rare book room of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

Better than lingering too long at this state of affairs is pointing to the German portal Westfälische Geschichte which brings you to the history of the region Westfalen, with several databases and among much else transcriptions of some of the treaty documents of 1648.

A few questions halfway…

Is it possible to indicate a quicker road to reliable texts of peace treaties? In this post I focus on treaties from the Early Modern Period (1500-1800). Treaties were concluded in Latin, French. German and other languages, English being only the original language for a relative minority of cases. The first port of call for legal historians searching for English versions of peace treaties is probably the Avalon Project of Yale Law School. Starting maybe with the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 870 you can find a number of translated peace treaties, with references to the translations used, but alas no page numbers. The Avalon version of the Westphalian Treaty of 1648 sadly lacks even a reference to the source of the translation. However useful the translation is in itself, this falls short of its own standard, but worse is the fact that the 1648 treaty is the last seventeenth century treaty present. In the section for the eighteenth century you will search in vain for the 1713 Peace of Utrecht and the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. For later periods Avalon serves a good choice of treaties with a focus on treaties with the United States as one of the parties involved.

A perfectly sensible search strategy is checking the Eurodocs website of the Brigham Young University. For the Netherlands this does not bring you immediately to any peace treaty. Regelgeving in de Nederlanden, one of the websites mentioned is concerned with all kinds of regulations from the Low Countries, but it contains only the peace treaty of 1654 after the First Anglo-Dutch War, and a peace treaty from 1666 with the bishop of Münster from 1666. Luckily Eurodocs has a page with links for Europe as a supranational region, and we will meet a few of the sites and texts indicated later in this post. Some links do not function – no text of the Westphalian treaty at the Fletcher School of Tufts University – and many links point to the versions at Avalon, and in the end the number of peace treaties is restricted. I hoped to find more at the Internet Modern History Source Book of Paul Halsall (Fordham University), but it looks more like I have hit upon one of its few weaknesses. The European Historical Institute at Florence has built a useful directory of websites with primary sources for European history, but it offered me small help for this search. Due to a drastic cut in funding Intute, the wonderful British database service for the humanities, has since July of this year no longer been updated. I did not find much for today’s quest, but I should at least mention the digital collections of the United States Institute of Peace with a Peace Agreements Digital Collection for treaties since 1989, documents of truth commissions and oral history projects in conflict areas.

Much as I would have liked to find a quick road or even several gateways to peace treaties from the Early Modern period the websites that one might readily expect to contain relevant materials do this only in a very restricted sense. At this point I would like to stress the fact that today’s quest is initially for digitized old editions, not for online versions (e-texts), modern translations or for archival records of peace treaties, both perfectly sensible resources when looking for peace treaties.

In a variety of qualities are the texts available at the several national versions of Wikisource. The German Wikisource has more than 200 treaties, among them a transcription of the German text of the Westphalian Treaties of 1648 taken from a contemporary edition digitized at the University of Münster. The English Wikisource contains 36 texts within the category of peace treaties. If you check the category for treaties you can find more peace treaties if you know the years in which they were concluded, and thus – to cut a long road short – you will find in the English Wikisource versions of the two main peace treaties of the Peace of Utrecht of 1713, one between France and Britain, and the other between Spain and Great Britain, without a clear indication of the sources used.

When talking about a peace treaty you simply have to be aware that it can actually consist of several treaties. Unfortunately the exact source of these English translation has not been indicated. You could remain blissfully unaware of the fact that you are dealing with a translation. It is the historian’s trade to distinguish between the original version, be it a handwritten record, a typescript or whatever medium involved, and a changed version, between drafts and definitive versions, between ratified and unratified versions, between official editions, official translations, contemporary officious and other translations. Just telling you saw a version at a particular URL will not do. More is needed and can be done.

The Digithèque des matériaux juridiques et politiques is a website maintained by Jean-Pierre Maury (Université de Perpignan). The section on historical and modern treaties presents a nice choice. For the Peace of Westphalia Maury distinguishes neatly between the two main treaties signed at Münster and Osnabrück, he indicates even that the originals are in Latin and French, but he omits any reference to the sources he used for establishing the text. The 1748 peace treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle did not make it into his selection, the peace treaties of Nijmegen (1678) and Rijswijk (1697) were found fit for inclusion, but all these texts lack references.

The Peace of Utrecht, 1713

From 1701 the War of Spanish Succession involved Spain, Portugal, France, Savoy, the Dutch Republic, the German Holy Roman Empire and Great Britain. Within the Dutch Republic in particular the States of Utrecht favoured a negotiated peace. They even bypassed the Dutch States General and opened secret negotiations with France. This is probably one of the unspoken reasons why Utrecht was chosen in 1712 as the city for official peace negotiations. The coming of the delegations were a boost for the local economy. Indeed the memory of lavish feasts seems to be thus strong that it inspired the committee for the commemoration of the peace of 1713 to support numerous cultural events in Utrecht years ahead of 2013. On the special website you find barely any mention of the peace treaty and its context. The Peace of Utrecht did not deal with all issues at stake. Some matters were dealt with in the Peace of Rastatt (1714).

At Europäische Friedensverträge you will find not just the several treaties concluded on April 11, 1713, but also the earlier truces, 22 texts in all, among them even the first later annulled version of the treaty between Savoy and Spain. To British readers the Peace of Utrecht holds its interest from an article in the peace treaty concluded on July 2, 1713. In article 10 the Spanish king ceded all its rights on Gibraltar to Great Britain. The Theatrum Europaeum gives a text version in German (XX,436-). The website at Mainz points to the website for Legislación Histórica de España with a link to the digitized image of a printed edition (Madrid 1713) with the official Spanish text.

When I read Graf’s post I was at first very surprised, in fact short of alarmed, that he had tried to find a text using Google Books and Wikipedia, two devices which he has often scorned, but I realized maybe he wanted to give them a second chance, and if they could help him to (reliable) texts of the 1748 peace treaty his goal would be achieved. Per aspera ad astra! Thanks to Wikipedia I found the website Heraldica of François Velde where scans of the treaties of both the peace of Utrecht and Rastatt have been put together; the scans were originally made for Gallica from Henri Vast (ed.), Les grands traités du règne de Louis XV (3 vol., Paris 1893-1899) and from George Chalmers (ed.), A collection of treaties between Great Britain and other powers (2 vol., London 1790). The Dutch Wikipedia has a link to a French edition printed at Rochelle in 1713 digitized for Canadiana, a website for digitizing Canadian history and heritage.

One of the things I worried about was and is finding a Dutch text of the Peace of Utrecht. You can find all kind of treaties and ordinances in the nine volumes of the Groot placaet-boeck (…) (The Hague 1658-1796) for which Johannes van der Linden made a repertory (Repertorium of generaal register (…) (Amsterdam 1796). The volumes have been digitized by the department for Special Collections of Utrecht University Library. You will find in volume V the earlier guarantees (V, 444-449 – in French), the April 11 treaty between the Dutch States General and France (V, 456-467 – in Dutch) , a commercial treaty (V, 476-492 – in Dutch) and a new alliance signed June 17 (V, 492 -495 – in French). GPB V, 495-506 gives a Dutch version of the Rastatt treaty between the Holy German Empire and France (March 6, 1714). In view of the number and variety of treaties and their impact on the Dutch Republic the selection in the Groot placaet-boeck is rather meagre.

The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)

It would be tedious to repeat and translate here everything brought together in the post Klaus Graf published. Here I will just expand his references and add a few things. Graf found an English version of the main peace treaty concluded on October 18, 1748 (London 1749) and the reprint of it by Chalmers, A collection of treaties I, 424-450. A Dutch version is printed in Martinus Stuart (ed.), Jaarboeken van het koningrijk der Nederlanden 2 (Amsterdam 1815) 1065-1082. The text edition favored by Graf is the one by Alfred Francis Pribram (ed.), Österreichische Staatsverträge I, England I, 1526-1748 (Innsbruck 1907) 789-807. The edition by Rousset is in his Recueil historique d’actes (…) XX, 179-204. I will discuss this treaty collection in the next paragraph. In fact Rousset has devoted the pages 147 to 348 to acts concerning this peace treaty. I can only add a Dutch version in the Groot placaet-boeck, volume VIII, 246-253.

Treaty collections

The website in Mainz offers a mer à boire, but the Theatrum Europaeum offers only German translations. Can more be found? At historicum.net is a page with a number of quick links to the major peace treaties between 1500 and 1800. By now you are aware that you will have to look out for several treaties under the denominator of a particular peace; on the page in question the links are to specific treaties, not to the general pages at Mainz with the relevant lists for each peace treaty. Historicum.net has a broken link to the Base Choiseul, a database of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which you will find all French treaties signed before 1915. The Base Choiseul give you either a number of documents in PDF – which unfortunately do not open – or it points you to other relevant treaties with references to their appearance in major treaty collections. This list has been dressed very generously. It boils down to a very comprehensive list of pre-1950 treaty collections. The Base Choiseul gives you also a number of country bibliographies.

Gallica was already briefly mentioned as a possible place to find digitized treaty collections. The scan quality at Gallica can be indifferent to simply insufficient, and let’s therefore treat it as a kind of last line of defense if you cannot find it anywhere else within a reasonable time span.

The alphabetical list of works given at the Base Choiseul mentions a work by Friedrich August Wilhelm Wenck, Codex juris gentium recentissimi (…) (3 vol., Lipsiae 1781-795). It is concerned with treaties between 1735 and 1772. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) is found in the second volume for the years 1743-1753. Graf detected Wenck using the proverbial websearch machine and its subdomain for books. He guessed he would have found it earlier using Gallica, but in fact Graf was very happy with the version digitized at Ghent. I found it also digitized at the University of Michigan using the Hathi Trust Digital Library. By the way, Wenck translated Gibbon in German. To me this way of searching seems too hazardous. Surely there is a way to find Wenck and other major treaty collections using a few portals for digital collections , the Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog, BASE and the Hathi Trust. I will start with the titles I mentioned in my German comment to Graf’s post. If my strategy succeeds I will add a few other titles.

The Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens (8 vol., Amsterdam-La Haye 1726-1731) was started by Jean Dumont and contains treaties from 800 to 1730. The very fact you are searching for a multivolume work makes the search for a digitized version of all eight volumes not easier. It appears that even the volumes digitized at Gallica still are not a complete set.

The sequel to the Corps universel diplomatique is J. Rousset de Missy and others (eds.), Recueil historique d’actes, négotiations, mémoires et traités (21 vol., La Haye-Amsterdam 1728-1755). Among the editors are Bernard Picart and Jean de Barbeyrac. This is the moment to underline the importance of a very significant turn in Graf’s search action, the decision not to stay with the digitized version of Rousset as presented by Google Books, but to go to the website of the original library where the digitized books stem from. In the catalogue of the Universiteitsbibliotheek Ghent you find a very clear listing of the volumes involved, digitized at the UCLA. In fact the online catalogue university library at Ghent does even guide you to digitized versions of books available at the Hathi Trust Digital Library. The Ghent partnership goes beyond Google Books. Other versions of Rousset accesible through the Hathi Trust are incomplete.

Graf wondered whether there is another work used as often or relied upon so much as Wenck’s for treaties of the mid-eighteenth century. The article on him in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie tells about the praise Wenck got from George Friedrich von Martens, the publisher of the [Nouveau] recueil des principaux traités conclus par les puissances de l’Europe dépuis 1761 (first series, 7 vol., Göttingen 1791-1801). The second edition appeared in Göttingen between 1817 and 1835 and has been digitized by the University of Michigan; the link is to the compact overview offered at Ghent University. The series nicknamed the Recueil Martens has known until 1943 several continuations and additional tables, all indicated in Baumgarts Bücherkunde and the bibliography of the Base Choiseul. Digitized versions of some of the newer series in the Recueil Martens, too, can quickly be found using the services of the university library at Ghent. For modern German translations of Early Modern treaties one can turn to the so-called Vertrags-Ploetz. The full title of the relevant volume is Konferenzen und Verträge, Vertrags-Ploetz : ein Handbuch geschichtlich bedeutsamer Zusammenkünfte und Vereinbarungen, 2,3: Neuere Zeit 1492-1914, Helmut K.G. Rönnefahrth and H. Euler (ed.) (2nd ed., Würzburg 1958).

The four volumes of the first editions of Fred L Israel and Emanuel Chill (eds.), Major peace treaties of modern history, 1648-1967) (4 vol., New York, etc., 1967) is not yet available online. The third edition appeared as Major peace treaties of modern history, 1648-2000 (5 vol., Philadelphia 2002). Perhaps this is the moment to point to the volume of essays edited by Randall Lesaffer, Peace Treaties and International Law in European History. From the Late Middle Ages to World War One (Cambridge, etc., 2004). Niels Fabian May deplored in his 2005 review for H-Soz-u-Kult the use of editions like Dumont and The Consolidated Treaty Series when many treaties are available in better editions, but this remains a tantalizing remark. May does overlook how Heinz Duchhardt points in his contribution for the 2004 volume to the collection edited by Henri Vast, and to contemporary document collections concerning major treaties such as Nijmegen, Rijswijk and Utrecht. For the Peace of Utrecht appeared the Actes, mémoires et autres pièces authentiques concernant la Paix d’Utrecht (6 vol., Utrecht 1714-1715), digitized at the Hathi Trust. Earlier Lesaffer published Europa, een zoektocht naar vrede? (1454-1763 en 1945-1997) [Europe, a search for peace? (1454-1763 and 1945-1997)] (Louvain 1999).

Searching a text of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle prompted Klaus Graf to write his post. The main edition turned out to be the one by Wenck (vol 2., 337-431). The Base Choiseul refers also to Alexandre and Jules le Clercq (eds.), Recueil des traités de la France (23 vol., Paris 1864-1907), vol. 1, 65-79 – digitized at Munich – and Christoph Guillaume de Koch (ed.), Abrégé de l’histoire des traités de paix entre les puissances de l’Europe depuis la paix de Westphalie (4 vol., Basle-Paris-Strasbourg 1796-1797), vol 1, 446-451, digitized at the New York Public Library. These editions offer clearly less than Wenck.

And there is more!

This post is the longest since I started my blog in December, 2009. If you are only familiar with English and your French and German, not to mention Spanish and Dutch, are weak or simply absent, you have been quite patient if you have come this far, but surely you have arrived here somewhat exasperated. Are there no English collections before The Consolidated Treaty Series, edited by Clive Parry (231 vol., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1969-1981)? I did mention the collection edited by George Chalmers, A collection of treaties between Great Britain and other powers (2 vol., London 1790) for which you can choose between three digitized versions available at the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Much older is the collection of treaties in the work edited by Thomas Rymer and Robert Sanderson, Foedera, conventiones, literae et cujusque generis acta publica (…) (20 vol., London 1704-1735; 10 vol., Hagae Comitis, 1739-1745). I have not found a complete digitized set of the first edition available through open access. Only a number of volumes have been digitized for the public domain at Gallica and the Hathi Trust, partially from the first and partially from the second edition. In German research libraries you have access to a complete digitized set of Rymer’s Foedera, and in Eighteenth Century Collections Online those lucky enough to have access to it through a subscribing library can use the volumes of the second edition (20 vol., London 1726-1735) and also the index volumes.

The fact that many treaties were concluded in French is probably one of the reasons of the scarcity of British collections of treaties, but stronger is the view that such works were only useful and fit for print when they directly touched Great Britain. You can find several collections for particular subjects, such as treaties with India, with Malabar and commercial treaties. One of the first more general collections after Rymer is John Almon’s A Collection of all the treaties of peace, alliance, and commerce between Great Britain (…) (2 vol., London 1772), digitized at the Hathi Trust. In view of the sheer length of this post I leave it to the reader to look in this digital library or elsewhere to find digitized versions the more narrow scoped collections such as Hertslet’s commercial treaties (31 vol., London 1827-1925) or Charles Jenkinson’s work with the same title as Almon’s (2 vol., London 1785).

Less is more?

There is a vast difference between the text of a treaty as shown in a source book aimed at students, the same treaty in a general treaty collection, a contemporary archival record or edition, and a critical text edition with all due scholarly notes, commentaries and additional materials. Depending on the use you are going to make of a passing reference to a treaty or a direct quote from a treaty you are studying for its own sake you face a wealth of materials and a number of choices you have to make. In this post I have focused on treaties from Europe between 1500 and 1800, but treaties are extant from Antiquity to today. Special websites and guides are devoted to UN treaties and treaties of the European Union. It has not been easy to keep focus at just three peace treaties, from 1648, 1713 and 1748. Klaus Graf has dealt splendidly with the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) and here I could only summarize and corroborate his results. The following overview deals first with these three treaties, followed by a summary of the main general treaty collections and their digital presence in this century, and a list of a few useful link collections for quick orientation. I have skipped the online versions without any reference to the sources used.

1648: The Peace of Westphalia

  • Europäische Friedensverträge lists all documents and gives digitized versions of archival records and the German translation in the Theatrum Europaeum
  • The Acta Pacis Westphaliae edition (Münster 1962-) is the critical source edition; the text of the main treaties, the IPM and the IPO, are digitized at the APW website together with a number of early translations – the source edition itself has been digitized in 2014 by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich
  • On the German portal for the history of Westfalen is a special section with information on the context and quick links to the main treaties and some of the separate treaties
  • The German Wikisource has got a transcription of a contemporary German translation (Frankfurt am Main 1649) digitized at Münster
  • The Base Choiseul offers a quick guide to the treaties and refers to old editions, among them for the IPM Dumont, Corpus universel VI,1, 450-461; Vast, Les grands traités I,12-157; the IPO is not included
  • The Dutch Groot-Placaetboeck… (GPB) – digitized at Utrecht – contains only the separate treaty of January 30, 1648 between Spain and the Dutch Republic (I, col. 79-108); see for a Dutch version of the IPM the volume edited by Dethlefs in 1998 and Smit’s edition (1948).
  • Johann Gottfrid von Meiern, Acta pacis Westphalicae publica oder Westphälische Friedens-Handlungen und Geschichte (…) (6 vol., Hannover 1734-1736; reprint 1969) – a copy of the original version has been digitized at Augsburg

1713: The Peace of Utrecht

  • Europäische Friedensverträge gives a detailed list of all treaties involved, with a German translation in the Theatrum Europaeum, digitized archival records and printed contemporary versions
  • The Base Choiseul gives only the treaties where France was involved, but provides references to old editions: the treaty involving the Dutch Republic is in Dumont, Corps universel VIII,1, 366-377; the treaty with Great Britain is in Dumont, Corps universel VIII,1, 339-345; De Clercq, Recueil des traités I,1-10
  • At Heraldica you can find quick links to scans from Vast, Les grand traités and Chalmers, A collection of treaties, both digitized for Gallica
  • The Actes, mémoires et autres pièces authentiques concernant la Paix d’Utrecht (6 vol., Utrecht 1714-1715) have been digitized at the Hathi Trust Library
  • The GPB contains in volume V versions of the earlier guarantees (V, 444-449 – in French), the April 11 treaty between the Dutch States General and France (V, 456-467 – in Dutch) , a commercial treaty (V, 476-492 – in Dutch) and a new alliance signed June 17 (V, 492 -495 – in French)

1748: The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle

  • The Europäische Friedensverträge present all relevant treaties, give archival records or contemporary editions. The publication of the Theatrum Europaeum ended in 1738. Of the main treaty (October 18, 1748) no printed versions are indicated
  • The Base Choiseul points to three printed versions of the main treaty: Wenck, Codex iuris gentium II, 337-431; De Clercq, Les grands traités I, 65-79; Koch, Abrégé I, 446-451
  • Graf found an English version (London 1749) reprinted by Chalmers, A collection of treaties I, 424-450; a Dutch version is in Martinus Stuart (ed.), Jaarboeken van het koningrijk der Nederlanden 2 (Amsterdam 1815) 1065-1082. The text edition favored by Graf is the one by Alfred Francis Pribram (ed.), Österreichische Staatsverträge, I, England I, 1526-1748 (Innsbruck 1907) 789-807. The edition of the main treaty is in Rousset, Receuil historique d’actes XX, 179-204; the pages 147 to 348 deal with most of the treaties involved.
  • A Dutch version is printed in the GPB VIII, 246-253.
Digitized major treaty collections
  • Johann Christian Lünig (ed.), Das Teutsche Reichs-Archiv (23 volumes and index, Leipzig 1710-1722) – digitized at Augsburg
  • Johann Philipp Abelinus and others (eds.), Theatrum Europaeum (21 vol., Frankfurt am Main 1646-1738) – offers German translations; digitized at Augsburg
  • Thomas Rymer and Robert Sanderson, Foedera, conventiones, literae et cujusque generis acta publica (…) (20 vol., London 1704-1735; 10 vol., Hagae Comitis, 1739-1745) – a number of volumes has been digitized at Gallica and the Hathi Trust; a complete set is available through Eighteenth Century Collections Online
  • Jean Dumont (ed.), Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens (8 vol., Amsterdam-La Haye 1726-1731) – covers the period 800-1730; there is no complete digitized set; Gallica has digitized four volumes
  • J. Rousset de Missy and others (eds.), Recueil historique d’actes, négotiations, mémoires et traités (21 vol., La Haye-Amsterdam 1728-1755) – covers the period 1714-1748; digitized at the Hathi Trust Digital Library
  • John Almon (ed.), A Collection of all the treaties of peace, alliance, and commerce between Great Britain (…) (2 vol., London 1772) – digitized at the Hathi Trust
  • Friedrich August Wilhelm Wenck (ed.), Codex juris gentium recentissimi (…) (3 vol., Lipsiae 1781-795) – covers the period 1735-1772; digitized at Ghent
  • George Chalmers (ed.), A collection of treaties between Great Britain and other powers (2 vol., London 1790) – digitized at the Hathi Trust
  • Christoph Guillaume de Koch (ed.), Abrégé de l’histoire des traités de paix entre les puissances de l’Europe depuis la paix de Westphalie (4 vol., Basle-Paris-Strasbourg 1796-1797) – digitized at the New York Public Library
  • Georg Friedrich von Martens (ed.), [Nouveau] recueil des principaux traités conclus par les puissances de l’Europe dépuis 1761 (first series, 7 vol., Göttingen 1791-1801) – the second edition (8 vol. and index, Göttingen 1817-1835) is available through the Hathi Trust; use the Ghent catalogue to find digitized version of later continuations
  • Alexandre and Jules le Clercq (eds.), Recueil des traités de la France (23 vol., Paris 1864-1907) – digitized at Munich
  • Henri Vast (ed.), Les grands traités du règne de Louis XV (3 vol., Paris 1893- 1899) – digitized at Gallica
Portals to Early Modern Europe and Germany; some websites for other sources

A postscript

On second thoughts I have written in September 2011 another post about Early Modern peace treaties to summarize some of the main arguments presented here.

For the iconography of the Peace of Utrecht one can search the marvellous collection of historical prints collected by Frederik Muller, since 1881 in the Printroom of the Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam. For The Memory of the Netherlands digital portal nearly 5,000 prints have been digitized. Searching for “Vrede van Utrecht (1713)” will bring you a very generous harvest.