The Correspondence of Hadrianus Junius

Primary Contributors:

† Chris Heesakkers, Dirk van Miert, and Nathalie Smit

Hadrianus Junius (Adriaen de Jonghe) by Nicolas de Larmessin. Seventeenth century?, line engraving. (Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London; NPG D25009)

Adriaen de Jonghe (1511–1575)

Adriaen de Jonghe, or Hadrianus Junius as he is known, was born on 1 July 1511 in Hoorn—from whence came his toponym ‘Hornanus’. His father, Pieter de Jonghe, served as the burgomaster of Hoorn from 1525 to 1527 and again for a further year from 1532. As there was no Latin school in Hoorn, Junius was educated in Haarlem. At the age of twenty-three, he began to study philosophy and medicine at the University of Louvain and moved two years later to Siena and subsequently Bologna, obtaining his doctorate in the latter university on 3 March 1540.

In 1541, Junius travelled to Paris to continue his medical training, before moving two years later to London, where he was appointed both personal physician to Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, and tutor to the earl’s children. Following Surrey’s execution for treason, Junius briefly became physician in London to a hitherto unidentified lady before returning in 1550 to Haarlem, where he took up the position of rector of the city’s Latin school. Junius married in the same year and subsequently became father to two children, Clara and Petrus. After the death of his first wife, he married Adriana Hasselaer (sister of the warrior folk-hero Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer) in about 1555. Adriana became pregnant at least eight times, but nothing is known of the fate of these children. Between marriages, in 1552, Junius resigned his position at the Latin school to become the town physician of Haarlem and thereafter he divided his time between writing medical recipes, composing poetry, and practicing philology. He published an epic poem on the occasion of the marriage of Philip II and Mary Tudor (Philippeis, 1554), a supplement to Erasmus’s Adagia (Adagiorum ab Erasmo omissorum centuriae octo, 1558), an influential and often reprinted collection of emblems (Emblemata, 1565), and a highly successful octo-lingual dictionary which was reprinted and reworked countless times after his death (Nomenclator, 1567). In addition, he published new editions of the works of Seneca, Nonius Marcellus, Horace, Martial, and Eunapius Sardianus, as well as a number of curious works such as a small treatise on a phallus-shaped mushroom (with an engraving by Maarten van Heemskerck) and a discussion of the fashion and meaning of hair in antiquity. He acted also as an occasional Latin poet for engravings designed by Van Heemskerck and executed by Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert and Philips Galle.

Following his successes as an author, in 1565 Junius was appointed historiographer of Holland. In view of his training as a physician, several cities in Holland, including Amsterdam, objected to this appointment, but although Junius was aware of this opposition, he completed the first version of a cultural-historical work on Holland in 1570 and offered it to the States of Holland. The work was not published until 1588, however, more than a decade after his death.

During the siege of Haarlem in 1573 Junius fled first to Delft and then to Middelburg. He resided briefly in Rotterdam in 1574 to treat William the Silent, who lay ill, before returning to Haarlem in 1575 only to discover that his library had been looted by the Spanish during the siege. This loss was severe: almost all of his books and unpublished manuscripts had been removed or destroyed. Junius succumbed to a chronic illness in Arnemuiden on 16 June 1575, shortly before he was due to take up the chair of professor of medicine at the newly established University of Leiden.

It should be noted that Hadrianus Junius is not to be confused with the seventeenth-century Amsterdam schoolmaster Adrianus Junius.

Partners and Additional Contributors

The metadata for this catalogue was collated by Nathalie Smit during her research internship in the Sharing Knowledge in Literary and Learned Networks [SKILLNET] project, funded by the European Research Council, under the direction of Dr Dirk van Miert. The catalogue is based on the inventory of Junius’s correspondence as compiled initially by Chris Heesakkers and published later with Dirk van Miert (for full bibliographic details, see below). The introductory text for this page was written by Nathalie Smit.

Key Bibliographic Source(s)

Chris Heesakkers and Dirk van Miert, ‘An Inventory of the Correspondence of Hadrianus Junius (1511–1575)’, Lias, 37/2 (2010), pp. 109–268.


The collection of Adriaen de Jonghe’s letters contains 423 entries, which were written between 1536 and 1575. The letters provide an insight into De Jonghe’s career as a physician, his love for philology, his opinion on political upheaval, eyewitness accounts of iconoclasm, and his view on catholic censorship, to name just a few of the topics that De Jonghe discusses within his circle. An overview of De Jonghe’s correspondents shows that his network shifted gradually from a more general European to a more national and regional network over the years.

The origin and destination of the majority of the letters is unknown. Most of the letters do not carry a date or year. Before Heesakkers and Van Miert tackled the correspondences, roughly 80% of the letters were undated. By giving tentative dates based on the political and personal events that are discussed in the letters, Heesakkers and Van Miert were able to reduce this number to 30%.

It should be noted, however that a number of alterations to the data in Heesakkers and Van Miert’s inventory have been made in this catalogue, for example in relation to a handful of dates and the attribution of the authorship of a couple of letters. Dirk van Miert and Natalie Smit are grateful to Rienk Vermij (Oklahoma University) for a number of corrections and additions to the printed inventory. Nathalie Smit revised the editors’ contents notes to accommodate them within EMLO.


The inventory published by Chris Heesakkers and Dirk van Miert largely draws on De Jonghe’s Epistolae, quibus accedit ejusdem vita of 1652 (wrongly printed as 1552 on the title page) and Petrus Scheltema’s 1839 edition of additional Epistolae selectae (see the Further Resources section, below). Almost all of the manuscript copies of the letters in these two collections are preserved in Utrecht University Library. Besides these two major editions, some of manuscript copies of the letters are to be found in archives in Leeuwarden, Leiden, and London.

Further resources


Chris Heesakkers and Dirk van Miert, ‘An Inventory of the Correspondence of Hadrianus Junius (1511–1575)’, Lias, 37/2 (2010), pp. 109–268.

Coen Maas, ‘”Non erubescat Hollandia”: Classical Embarrassment of Riches and the Construction of Local History in Hadrianus Junius’ Batavia’, in Karl A.E. Enenkel and Konrad Adriaan Ottenheym, eds, The Quest for an Appropriate Past in Literature, Art and Architecture (Leiden, 2018) pp. 361–82.

Dirk van Miert, Hadrianus Junius (1511–1575). Een humanist uit Hoorn (Hoorn, 2011).

Dirk van Miert, ed., The Kaleidoscopic Scholarship of Hadrianus Junius (1511–1575): Northern Humanism at the Dawn of the Dutch Golden Age (Leiden, 2011).

Donald Gordon,’Veritas filia temporis’. Hadrianus Junius and Geoffrey Whitney’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 3 (1939–1940), pp. 228–40.

Hadrianus Junius, Epistolae, quibus accedit ejusdem vita, et oratio de artium liberalium dignitate, nunquam antea edita (Dordrecht, 1652).

Hadrianus Junius, Epistolae selectae nunc primum editae, ed. Petrus Scheltema (Amsterdam, 1839).

Ilja Veldman, ‘Enkele Aanvullende Gegevens Omtrent de Biografie van Hadrianus Junius’, BMGN: Low Countries Historical Review, 89/3 (1974), pp. 375–84.

J. A. van Dorsten, The Radical Arts. First Decade of an Elizabethan Renaissance (Leiden and London, 1970), pp. 131–4.

Karl A. E. Enenkel, The Invention of the Emblem Book and the Transmission of Knowledge, c. 1510–1610 (Leiden, 2019), pp. 264–309.

Launch Catalogue

Please see our citation guidelines for instructions on how to cite this catalogue.