William I, Prince of Orange (24 April 1533 – 10 July 1584), also known as William the Silent or William the Taciturn, or more commonly known as William of Orange, was the main leader of the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs that set off the Eighty Years’ War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1581. He was born into the House of Nassau as Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the Orange-Nassau branch and the ancestor of the monarchy of the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, he is also known as Father of the Fatherland.
Rare original state.
The book entitled Hypnerotomachie Poliphile was printed in Paris in 1554 and bought there by the Prince in 1559. He had it bound in calf leather and provided with his Orange coat of arms on both sides, surrounded by the order chain of the Golden Fleece. The rare Orange band is completely intact and even still has the original spine, something that actually never occurs.
For the past five centuries, the book has been highly sought after and the property of foreign private collectors. It was part of collections in London, New York and Paris. In 2006 it unexpectedly appeared at an auction in France. The current Dutch owner bought it and thanks to him it was briefly on display in the Meermanno Museum in The Hague in 2007 and in 2018 in various museums in the Netherlands.
William the Silent
During his stay in Paris in 1559, the Prince also learned of the plan of the Catholic French Prince Henry and the Spanish King Philip to exterminate all suspects of Protestantism in France and the Netherlands by means of the inquisition. He wisely did not show this, so that 1559 when this book was bound, is also the year that the basis for the nickname of the Prince William the Silent was laid.
When the Prince took refuge in Dillenburg in Germany in 1568 to escape persecution by the Spanish King Philip II, he took with him a small collection of books, including this “Poliphile”. After his violent death in 1584, his library was spread in all directions, including through relatives.
The Poliphile is a rare cult book full of Renaissance ideals. The book describes in a dream how a modern person should view women, love, art, philosophy and the liberation of (ecclesiastical) dogmas. On the eve of the Eighty Years’ War, the book’s ideas had a great influence on the rebellious attitude and intellectual development of the Prince. Therefore also a symbol for his struggle for independence against the Spanish king Philip II.
The Prince was very attached to the book. He had it with him until his violent death in 1584.
Orange connoisseur Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen.
It is one of the most important books in Dutch history. You can never buy something that belonged to the Father of the Fatherland and certainly not such a unique book. Collectors pay tens of millions for paintings by Mondrian and Van Gogh, well, this is a much older work of art with greater cultural-historical significance.
Antiquarian Laurens Hesselink
Earliest printing press
The book is an unparalleled example of the earliest art of printing, for the first time in the history of the modern book, beautifully illustrated with woodcuts of the most fantastic structures, riddles and marvelous scenes. It was treasured for imaginative text layout, vocabulary and meandering sentence structure. Also for the printing type cut especially for this book and the beauty of the no fewer than 181 woodcuts.
Surrounded with mystery
The author of the book is a mystery, and his name can really only be deduced from an acrostic of the large capital letters opening each chapter: they form the inscription from the beginning of the volume: POLIAM FRATER FRANCISCVS COLVMNA PERAMAVIT. “Brother Francesco Colonna loved Polia very much” It is believed that Polia can be identified with Lucrezia, the daughter of a Treviso lawyer.
The novel has several layers of meaning. The first edition was printed in Venice in 1499, at the height of the Italian Renaissance, in the large folio format by the most renowned printer of the period, Aldus Manutius. The title already indicates that it is a book for few, because it requires language skills to understand the first word, which cannot be found in dictionaries: Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (The dreamed love struggle of Poliphilus).
Second French translation
1546 appeared in Paris under the title Hypnerotomachie, ou Discours du songe de Poliphile (The dreamed love struggle, or story of the dream of Poliphilus), a French translation, probably by Jean Martin, with woodcuts after those in the Italian prints (and some added). This translation was reprinted two more times, in 1554 and 1561, all three printed in folio format in the grandeur of French Renaissance typography.
Willem van Oranje stands for a mentality that characterizes and binds all Dutch people. The geographic area of the Netherlands was shaped in the time of William of Orange. In the spirit of his legacy, we direct our future.
The Poliphile, a tangible proof of the philosophy of William of Orange. It is important that it remains in the Netherlands and is brought to the attention of a large audience. However, there is a good chance that a foreign collector sees his chance and that the book will disappear from view for hundreds of years.
FRANCISCUS COLONNA LOVED POLIA.