Monthly Archives: January 2021

A Female Astronomer in Gdańsk (NL Embassy in PL)

Elisabeth Hevelius (1647-1693), who lived and worked in Gdańsk, is considered one of the first female astronomers. She was the daughter of Nicolaas Koopman and Johanna Mennings, who had married in Amsterdam and later settled in Gdańsk. When she was but sixteen years old, Elisabeth married the fifty-two-year-old scientist and beer brewer Johannes Hevelius. The pair shared a passion for star gazing and astronomy. They had a large and famous observatory in Gdańsk, where they studied the night’s sky. They also had four children. Elisabeth knew Latin and corresponded with various scientists. After Johannes’ death, Elisabeth continued their work. In 1690, with the financial aid of King Jan III Sobieski, she published Prodromus Astronomiae, a catalogue of 1.564 stars and their positions. The image is taken from a book from 1673, and it shows Elisabeth and Johannes at work in their observatory.

*I originally wrote this post for the social media outlets of the Dutch Embassy in Poland. This was post no. 8.

A Dutch Queen in Poland (NL Embassy in PL)

On 7 January 1937, Princess Juliana, the later Queen of the Netherlands, married Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. The couple spent their honeymoon touring through Europe. Poland was their first destination. They stayed in Krynica-Zdrój, a spa town in the Beskid Mountains. To avoid the press, they travelled incognito as Count and Countess Von Sternberg, but the media caught up with them within a few days. The royal couple stayed in Hotel Patria, built by singer and movie star Jan Kiepura. In a Polish newspaper from 12 January, Prince Bernhard stated: “I have many Polish friends. Very many. So we came here.” The young couple had a great time in Krynica-Zdrój, where they were joined by numerous friends in order to ski, hunt, and party. Because of their presence, the town itself became famous. The princess and prince stayed in Krynica-Zdrój for four weeks, after which they left for Budapest.

This postcard from the Dutch Royal Library shows the royal couple in Poland:

*I originally wrote this post for the social media outlets of the Dutch Embassy in Poland. This was post no. 7.

De echte vliegende Hollander: Een Nederlandse admiraal in Gdańsk

Voor de website Maritiem Portal schreef ik een blog getiteld De echte vliegende Hollander: Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam in gedichten uit 17e-eeuws Gdańsk. Ik bespreek daarin de wijze waarop de Nederlandse admiraal Van Wassenaer Obdam (1610-1665), die in eigen land een twijfelachtige reputatie genoot, besproken wordt in Latijnse gedichten uit Gdańsk/Danzig, de Baltische havenstad die eeuwenlang bij het Pools-Litouwse Gemenebest hoorde.

Abraham Evertsz. van Westerveld, Portret van Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam, ca. 1660.

Van Wassenaer Obdam maakte zich meermaals verdienstelijk voor Gdańsk, hetgeen tot uiting komt in meerdere lofdichten die ik gevonden heb tijdens archiefonderzoek ter plaatse. De dichters benadrukken de banden tussen de admiraal (en de Nederlandse Republiek als geheel) en hun stad, alsook de spectaculaire dood van de vlootvoogd, die in 1665 omkwam tijdens de Slag bij Lowestoft. De gedichten vormen een van de vele culturele sporen van de ‘moedernegotie’ en getuigen van de verwevenheid van de belangen van de Republiek en Gdańsk in de zeventiende eeuw.