The Correspondence of Jan Gruter [Janus Gruterus]

Primary Contributors:

Cultures of Knowledge

Jan Gruter [Janus Gruterus], after a portrait by an unknown artist. Line engraving, possibly 17th century. (© National Portrait Gallery, London; NPG D25671)

Jan Gruter [Janus Gruterus] (1560–1627)

Born in Antwerp on 3 December 1560, Gruter was the son of Wouter [Gualtherius] Gruter, a prosperous merchant and civic administrator. His mother, Catharina Tishem [Thysmans], was English and from the East Anglian city of Norwich. As Protestants, the family fled Antwerp and moved to England during the early stages of the revolt against Spain.

The young Jan was educated initially by his mother, who — according to the panegyric to her son published in 1631 by one of his pupils, Balthasar Venator — was a remarkably well-educated woman, fluent in Latin and Greek (of such great skill, indeed, that she read Galen in the original) as well as in French, Italian, and English. Gruter was admitted to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, on 11 July 1577, where his tutor is listed in Venn as Robert Swayle. Thereafter, he studied at Leiden — making the acquaintance of Justus Lipsius and both Janus Dousa the elder and Janus Dousa the younger — where he obtained a degree in 1584, before travelling through France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany and accepting a teaching position at Rostock. His parents meanwhile, having returned to Antwerp, fled the Spanish siege of the city and moved to Lübeck and Danzig; it was in Danzig that Gruter’s father Wouter died in 1588.

Gruter was appointed professor of history at the University of Wittenberg in 1590 but, as a Calvinist, following the death of Elector Christian I of Saxony he lost this position two years later for his refusal to sign the formula concordiae. Thereafter he moved to Heidelberg, the city where his first poems were published and where, from 1602, he served as librarian of the Bibliotheca Palatina, succeeding Paul Melissus in this position.

Gruter married four times, becoming the father of one son and three daughters. His first wife, Johanna de Smet, was the daughter of Henrich Smet [Henricus Smetius], and the couple had a daughter before Johanna committed suicide in 1594. His second wife was the daughter of Jakob Kiemdonck [Jacobus Kimedoncius]; his third wife was Katharina Stöckle; and his fourth wife was a member of the van den Corput family.

Following the siege and capture of Heidelberg by Tilly’s army in 1622, a large number of the manuscripts in the Bibliotheca Palatina were seized and transferred to Rome. Gruter’s own personal library was looted. He escaped to Tübingen and Bretten before returning finally to Heidelberg, where he died on 20 September 1627 at an estate [Berhelden] near the city.


Partners and Additional Contributors

The metadata for the beginnings of a calendar for the correspondence of Jan Gruter has been taken from the invaluable inventories compiled by Monika Estermann and Thomas Bürger (for further details, please see below). Cultures of Knowledge would like to thank EMLO Editorial Assistant Charlotte Marique for her work to prepare this metadata for upload.

Key Bibliographic Source(s)

Thomas Bürger, Verzeichnis der gedruckten Briefe deutscher Autoren des 17. Jahrhunderts, Teil 2. Drucke zwischen 1751 und 1980, 4 vols (Wiesbaden, 2002), vol. 2, pp. 630–3.

Monika Estermann, Verzeichnis der gedruckten Briefe deutscher Autoren des 17. Jahrhunderts, Teil 1, Drucke zwischen 1600 und 1750, 4 vols (Wiesbaden, 1992–1993), vol. 2, pp. 584–6.


Buchner, August, Cl. viri Augusti Buchneri epistolae. Opus posthumum. Editio secunda. Cum Privilegio, 2 vols (Dresden, 1680).

Buder, Christian Gottlieb, Nützliche Sammlung verschiedener meistens ungedruckter Schrifften, …, Briefe, Bedencken, welche zu Erläuterung der Natur und Völcker besonders teutschen Staats = und Lehn = Rechten auch kirchen = politischen und gelehrten Historien dienen können Mit einigen Anmerckungen erläutert heraus gegeben von Christian Gottlieb Buder,... (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1735).

Burmann, Peter, Sylloges epistolarum a viris illustribus scriptarum tomi quinque, collecti et digesti per Petrum Burmannum. … , 5 vols (Leiden, 1727).

Crecelius, Wilhelm, ‘Opitiana’, in Archiv für Literaturgeschichte, 14 (1886).

Grotius, Hugo, Briefwisseling van Hugo Grotius: Band 1, 1597–17 August 1618, ed. P. C. Molhuysen (The Hague, 1928).

Gude, Marquard, Marquardi Gudii et doctorum virorum ad eum epistolae, … ; et Claudii Sarravii… epistolae ex eadem bibliotheca auctiores. Curante Petro Burmanno (Utrecht, 1697).

Heumann, Christoph August, Christophori Augusti Heumanni poecile sive epistolae miscellaneae ad literatissimos aevi nostri viros accedit exhibens dissertationes argumenti rarioris, 3 vols (Halle an der Saale, 1722–1732).

Lindner, Kaspar Gottlieb, Umständliche Nachricht von des weltberühmten Schlesiers, Martin Opitz von Boberfeld, Leben, Tode und Schriften, … Herausgegeben von D. Kaspar Gottlieb Lindnern … , 2 vols (Hirschberg, 1740–1741).

Lotichius, Johann Peter, Jo. Petri Lotichii, … , Bibliothecae poeticae, 4 parts (Frankfurt, 1625–1628).

Meel, Jan Willem van, Insignium virorum epistolae selectae, quae nunc primum prodeunt, ex bibliotheca Jani Guilielmi Meelii … (Amsterdam, 1701).

Meursius, Johann, Ioannis Meursi operum volumen undecimum ex recensione Ioannnis lami lucubrationes quae in eo continentur sequens pagina indicat (Florence, 1762).

Mieg, Ludwig Christian, Monumenta pietatis & literaria virorum in re publica & literaria illustrium, selecta. Quorum pars prior exhibet collectanea Palatina, … posterior eruditorum superioribus duobus seculis celebrium epistolas nondum editas. … , 2 vols (Frankfurt am Main, 1701).

Opitz, Martin, Gesammelte Werke, ed. George Schulz-Behrend, 2 vols (Stuttgart, 1968).

Opitz, Martin, Martini Opitii acht Bücher, deutscher Poematum durch ihn selber herausgegeben auch also vermehret unnd übersehen das die vorigen darmitte nicht zu vergleichen sindt (Wrocław, 1625).

Palm, Hermann, Beitraege zur Geschichte der deutschen Literatur des 16. Und 17. Jahrhunderts (Wrocław, 1877).

Reifferscheid, Alexander, Briefe G. M. Lingelsheims, M. Berneggers und ihrer Freunde. Nach Handschriften der Kgl. Bibliothek in Kopenhagen, … u. des Reichsarchivs in Stockholm hrsg. u. erl. von Alexander Reifferscheid (Heilbronn, 1889).

Richter, Georg, Georgii Richteri IC. ejusque familiarium, epistolae selectiores, … datae ac redditae. Accedunt I. Richten vita. … III. Mantissae sex, quarum prima epistolas continet Casp. Hofmanni ad varios; … IV. Spicilegium epistolarum illustrium … (Nuremberg, 1662).

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Franz, ‘Julius Wilhelm Zincgrefs leben und Schriften’, in Archiv für Litteraturgeschichte, 8 (1879).

Struve, Burkhard Gotthelf, Acta litteraria ex manuscriptis eruta atque collecta fasciculus primus cura Burcardi Gotthelfii Struvii. Editio secunda, vols 1–10 (Jena, 1705–1713).

Thülemeyer, Heinrich Günther von, Virorum eil. et doctorum ad Melchiorem Goldastum … epistolae ex bibliotheca Henrici Günteri Thülemarii, … editae. Accedit in calce Forstnerianarum epistolarum mantissa (Frankfurt and Speyer, 1688).

Vossius, Gerhard Johann, Gerardi Joan. Vossii et clarorum virorum ad eum epistolae. Collectore Paulo Colomesio … , 2 vols (London, 1690).

Scope of Catalogue

At present, the calendar contains basic metadata for 136 letters taken from a selection of epistolaries (for further details, please see the section on the bibliographic sources above). These letters span the period from May 1596 to Gruter’s death in September 1627. In Estermann’s and Bürger’s inventory, however, the origins for a number of letters do not appear to be correct and EMLO has removed the location from these letters pending further investigation.

Further resources


Balthasar Venator, Panegyricus Jano Grutero scriptus (Geneva, 1631).



Launch Catalogue

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