From the end of November, William of Orange’s favorite book can be seen again in the ‘Embassy of the Free Mind’ in Amsterdam. The book belonged to the prince’s personal book collection.
Personal property of the prince
In 1567 the prince left the Netherlands to continue his fight against the Spanish King in Dillenburg. He has books transferred from his castle in Breda, including Hypnerotomachie or Exposition about the dream of Pholiphile, of which he had a French edition. The prince bought the book in 1559 in Paris during his stay at the court of Henry II. After his violent death in 1584, his library was spread in all directions, including through relatives. The work was long hidden in private collections and was discovered at auction in 2006. From Tuesday 18 September it can be seen in the NMM, where the exhibition “Willem” brings together many top pieces from the Netherlands and abroad.
Facsimile with new Dutch translation
The Dutch translation entitled The Dream of Poliphile is also available at the Huis met de Hoofden.
Prime Minister of England
A total of twenty books have been found. Five, including this one, are in the Netherlands. Fifteen are owned by the Berlin State Library. This is the only privately owned copy. The book was in the Prime Minister’s library in 1690 under Queen Anne, Robert Harley. It changed hands in 1743 and later appeared at auctions in London (1938), New York (1951) and Paris (2006). At the latter auction, the book was bought by the Dutch owner.
The year of De Zwijger
The Prince of Orange buys the French book entitled Le Songe de Poliphile in Paris in 1559. He is then 26 years old and stays for a short time at the court of Henry II. During a hunting trip, the French king reveals to him the secret agreement with the Spanish King Philip II about the eradication of heresy in the Netherlands. At that moment Willem hides his horror and becomes a.o. referred to as “The Silent” by the event in this year.
Eighty Years’ War
On the eve of the Eighty Years’ War in 1567, the Prince leaves his castle in Breda to continue his fight against the Spanish King in Dillenburg. He takes his beloved book with him. After his violent death in 1584, his library was spread in all directions, including through relatives.
At the time, Le Songe de Poliphile was a cult story, certainly because of the erotic descriptions. The anonymous author, whose name is hidden in an acrostic, shows in the story his knowledge of mysterious matters.
The main character Poliphile dreams that he is lost in a dark forest. He travels a long way, actually a complicated initiation process, which eventually brings him to his beloved Polia. With her he visits the palace and fountain of Venus. Poliphile pays attention to pyramids, doors, columns and obelisks during his journey. He wanders through beautiful gardens, admiring long-lasting curious statues (such as an elephant with an obelisk on its back), fountains and allegorical animals. He reads endless epitaphs and dwells on mysterious series of hieroglyphs. He meets nymphs, satyrs, gods and mythological characters.
Esther Ritman, director of the Embassy of the Free Mind: “The book tells a love story that even now appeals to the imagination and at the same time derives life lessons from an allegorical description of Classical Antiquity.”
Bart Laming, chairman of the Book of Orange foundation: “The Prince’s book was hidden in private collections for a long time. The publication of the translation and the exhibition makes it accessible to a wide audience. In this way everyone can experience the enchanting power of the book, exactly as the Father of the Fatherland did. ”