Dat oude ende dat nieuwe testament (The Old and New Testament, 1526)

By Renske Hoff

The title page of this sixteenth-century Dutch Bible carries a simple ownership mark by Walburch van Manderschijt. This Bible, part of the special collections of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (shelfmark: XC 05039), was printed by Jacob van Liesvelt in Antwerp in 1526. It became Van Liesvelt’s best known edition, as it was the first complete Bible—i.e. including the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the apocryphal books—to be printed in Dutch. Although vernacular complete Bibles (and New Testaments) circulated in manuscript, most late 15th– and early 16th-century biblical publications contained the Epistelen ende evangelien (the Epistles and Gospels). These presented a selection of biblical texts in liturgical order, allowing readers to read, in the vernacular, the passages that would have been read in Latin during Mass.

However, Van Liesvelt’s Bible type proved highly successful. Early readers such as Walburch van Manderschijt embraced the novelty of the complete Bible, despite—or perhaps because—the fact that they demanded new reading practices. As the Bibles contained much more text, which was no longer organised in the order of the liturgy, readers needed to apply new methods to navigate through the book and comprehend the text it offered. Paratextual elements surrounding the main text, such as liturgical tables, running titles, chapter summaries, and lists of contents, could help readers find their way through the book. Jacob van Liesvelt’s folio-sized, complete Bible of 1526 has been widely discussed with regard to its Luther-based translation and prologue, and the novelty of printing the entire Bible in one volume. However, little attention has been devoted to questions concerning the readership of this new type of Bible. Who were the owners and readers of this edition and how did they interact with the book?

This copy provides the name of one of them. Walburch van Manderschijt was a German-Dutch countess, born in 1468 to Konrad van Manderschijt and Walburga van Horne. At the age of seventeen, Walburch married Willem I, Count of Neuenahr. After he died, she married Frederik van Egmont, Dutch Lord of IJsselstein and Count of Buren and Leerdam, in 1502. He died in 1521, after which Walburch spend her last years in the Huis van Ysselstein, a large house in the Dutch town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which Frederik bequeathed to her. Although the house was demolished in the eighteenth century, the address—Orthenstraat 36—can still be visited. Walburch’s exact date of death is unknown, but the absence of any documentation dating beyond 1530 leads to the assumption that she died around 1530/1531.

1566 Sketch of ‘s Hertogenbosch by
L. van Peteghem, Rijksarchief Noord-Brabant

Besides these biographical facts, little is known about Walburch. The various archival sources that contain her name imply that she was quite aware of her financial rights and opportunities. For instance, a charter of June 17, 1505 states that she should receive an annual allowance of 600 guilders from her husband Frederik, allowing her to take care of her German estates and in order to secure her income in case she would be widowed. In 1518, Walburch signed a similar charter, this time concerning the financial agreement between her son Willem II and his wife. Furthermore, sources dating from 1499 and 1527 document how she drew up her will and secured her children’s inheritances.

Walburch van Manderschijt presumably acquired the Liesvelt Bible while she lived in the Huis van Ysselstein. Assuming that she died shortly after 1530, she probably was the first owner of the book. As Walburch did not leave any annotations in the book other than her name, we do not know in what ways she used and read the book. Other questions that remain open are, for instance, why she preferred this complete edition, if and how she used the paratextual material, and what she thought of the fact that Jacob van Liesvelt based his Dutch translation on Martin Luther’s German Bible editions. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Countess Walburch—twice widowed and about sixty years old—was one of the first people in the Low Countries to possess and use a complete Bible. It was through curious first buyers and readers like her that this new vernacular Bible type took root in the sixteenth-century Low Countries.

Source: Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (shelfmark: XC 05039). Photos by Renske Hoff, reproduced with permission.

Christian Teachings and Prayers (Christelycke Onderwysingen ende Gebeden, 1695)

This Dutch prayer book features a female signature next to the frontispiece, reading “This book belongs to Marie froonhove” (“Desen bock behoort toe aen Marie froonhove”).

Source: book offered for sale on Etsy on 1 December 2019; images reproduced with permission of the seller Isaiah Cox of Rare Tome.

Sara Maria van der Wilp, Gedichten (1772)

By Lieke van Deinsen

The publication of Sara Maria van der Wilp’s volume of collected poems, Gedichten (1772), led to one of the juiciest controversies in Dutch literary history. The author portrait Van der Wilp initially included in the book (left) produced a torrent of criticism and resulted in a fierce argument in the public press between its painter and the poetess. After several contemporaries reached out to the Amsterdam poetess and told her she “looked like a shrew; a dragon of a wife, […] an impertinent Whore, with Breasts like the udders of a cow,” Van der Wilp decided to commission a new portrait from a competing artist (right) and urged her readers to destroy the first portrait. 

Many of her readers, however, seem to have ignored the poetess’s explicit request. Most surviving copies of the edition contain both portraits. Interestingly several readers added handwritten notes, taking a position in the controversy. On the whole, their judgement did not favor Van der Wilp, and only a few seemed pleased with the volume. A noteworthy exception  appeared to have been Wobbegien Smit (b. 1767). Born in Meppel, Wobbegien married the local merchant Egbert van Veen (1767-1815) in 1788. In 1818, a few years of her husband’s passing, Wobbegien wrote multiple inscriptions of her name in her copy of Van der Wilp’s Gedichten: ‘Wobbegien Smit haar boek in jaar achttien honderd en achttien’ (Wobbegien Smit her book in the year 1818) and ‘Wobbeggien Smit zijn Boek’ (Wobbegien Smit his Book). In addition, she included two inscriptions with the surname of her late husband (‘Wobbegien van Veen’). Apparently, Wobbegien used Van der Wilp’s controversial book to practice her writing  and try to establish her own distinctive signature. 

Fig. 6

Source: Atria, Institute on gender equality and women’s history (Amsterdam), NED 54 1772-B. Photographs by Lieke van Deinsen, reproduced with permission. 

Further Reading

Lieke van Deinsen, “Visualising Female Authorship. Author Portraits and the Representation of Female Literary Authority in the Eighteenth Century,” Quærendo 49:4 (2019), pp. 283-314. 

Jan David, Christeliicken Waer-seggher (Christian Truth-teller, 1603)

Scanned Image

By Joanna Rozendaal

This page features just a name: “Maria Elisabeth de Wale,” the ‘W’ written with a rather peculiar flourish. That is all information this eighteenth-century woman book owner inscribed in one of her books. Normally, the story would have ended there, but as it turns out, Maria Elisabeth de Wale is known to us still.

Maria Elisabeth de Wale (1691-1753) was the Lady of Ankeveen, a small Catholic enclave in the predominantly Protestant Dutch Republic. In her role as patroness of this village she made sure to protect and help her Catholic “flock,” among others by building almshouses for the local poor, supporting Catholic preachers, and providing local workers with ample employment. Works of Christian charity made up an important part of her life, it seems.[1]

Her strong sense of religiosity is reflected in her book ownership as well. Her book collection was brought to auction in 1755, two years after her death. It must have been quite an impressive library: the auction catalogue announcing the book sale is 234 pages long, offering well over 6,000 books. At first glance her library reflects an interest in a wide variety of subjects, but (practical) religious books comprise the most important part of her book collection.[2]

Scanned Image

The book discussed here, the Christeliicken Waer-seggher (The Christian Truth-teller), is a Catholic emblem book on religious life written by the Jesuit author Jan David and thus it fits well within De Wale’s large collection of religious, devotional books. It is one of the early publications in a relatively new genre of moral, religious literature in the Southern Netherlands: the Jesuit emblem book. Adorned with a hundred engravings by Antwerp engraver Theodoor Galle, this emblem book contains questions and answers on the principal truths of Catholic faith.[3]

This particular book is mentioned on page 39 of her sale’s catalogue and was sold to a new owner for either 1 guilder and 16 stuivers or 2 guilders (De Wale owned 2 copies of this particular edition). After the sale, the book disappeared from sight, but over a hundred years later it resurfaced when the book collection of the Flemish professor J.F. Heremans was gifted to the Ghent University Library, where it remains to this day.[4]

 

Source: David, J. Christeliicken waerseggher, de principale stucken van t’christen geloof en leuen int cort begrijpende. Met een rolle der devgtsaemheyt daer op dienende. Ende een Schild-wacht teghen de valsche waersegghers, tooueraers, etc., Antwerp, Plantijn, 1603. Copy: Ghent University Library, BIB.HER.000909. Photos reproduced with permission.

Notes

[1] Geheym-schryver van staat- en kerke der Vereenigde Nederlanden [..]. Utrecht, J.C. ten Bosch, 1759. Vol.1, pp. 376-77. Municipal Archives Gooi & Vechtstreek (SAGV). Registers van transporten, hypotheken en taxaties, 1648-1791. 155.1.3369 and 3370.

[2] Bibliotheca Ankeveniana. Sive Catalogus Exquisitissimorum & Rarissimorum Librorum. Latinorum, Gallicorum, Belgicorum &c. Amsterdam, H.W. van Welbergen, [1754]. Middlebrow Enlightenment: Disseminating Ideas, Authors, and Texts in Europe, 1665-1830 (MEDIATE) database. https://test.mediate-database.cls.ru.nl/dashboard/ (the public version of the MEDIATE database sandbox will be available in late 2019 or early 2020)

[3] Corbellini, S.; Hoogvliet, M.; Ramakers, B. (eds.). Discovering the Riches of the Word: Religious Reading in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Leiden, Brill, 2015. p. 342 and further.

[4] Van Duyse, Johan. Heremans, Jacob F.J. (1825-1884). UGentMemorie. Edited on 10.03.2015. www.ugentmemorie.be/personen/heremans-jacob-fj1825-1884