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Until recently the correspondences of the wives of the Dutch and Frisian stadtholders have not been studied in close detail. Now, however, thanks to the careful imaging of many of the manuscript letters that are being made available through EMLO for consultation online, scholars are able to study the impact of the political, cultural, and social activities of these talented and powerful women across and beyond the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic.

At present the EMLO union catalogue contains six correspondence calendars with metadata of c. 3,550 letters both to and from the wives of six seventeenth-century stadtholders. The majority of these manuscripts are conserved in the Royal Collections at The Hague, while a smaller number may be found in the care of the National Library in The Hague and at the Landeshauptarchiv Dessau. These letters were written in a variety of languages — English, French, German, Latin, or Dutch — and they date between 1605 and 1726.

This virtual exhibition introduces each seventeenth-century stadtholder’s wife and showcases a selection of letters to illustrate specific aspects of her correspondence. The palaces in which these women lived, and from where they carried out their numerous and varied duties, are illustrated.

Editorial Methodology

Within the six correspondence catalogues in EMLO, by far the majority of the records provide access to digitized copies of the scanned letters and links may be found under the label ‘manuscript image’. In addition, links to the digitized editions of Archives ou correspondance inédite de la maison d’Orange-Nassau (ed. G. Groen van Prinsterer); Correspondentie van Willem III en van Hans Willem Bentinck (ed. N. Japikse); Briefwisseling van Anthonie Heinsius 1702–1720 (ed. A. J. Veenendaal junior); and Lettres et Mémoires de Marie Reine d’Angleterre, Épouse de Guillaume III (ed. M. Bentinck) have been inserted.

In this exhibition, the selected letters have been transcribed according to standards set out in Richtlijnen voor het uitgeven van historische bescheiden (Huygens ING).

Scholarly Activity

In the near future additional letters from a number of other archives, for example Tresoar in Leeuwarden, and with the cooperation of the Fryske Akademy, will supplement these six collections. Catalogues for the correspondences of the wives of the 16th- and the 18th-century stadtholders will also be compiled.

Contributors and Partners

The metadata for the catalogues in EMLO were provided by the Huygens ING [KNAW] under the direction of Ineke Huysman. 

Huygens ING has digitized the documents in cooperation with the Royal Collections of The Netherlands in The Hague, where the majority of the original letters are conserved. A smaller number of letters may be found in the care of the National Library of the Netherlands [Koninklijke Bibliotheek], the Landeshauptarchiv Dessau, the National Archives of the Netherlands [Nationaal Archief], and the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford.

These correspondence catalogues are part of a collaboration with Oxford University's Cultures of Knowledge project and its related resource Women’s Early Modern Letters Online [WEMLO].

This exhibition was created by Dobrochna Futro, Ineke Huysman, Milo van de Pol, and Matthew Wilcoxson under the direction of Arno Bosse.


The Huygens ING wishes to thank the staff at Oxford University's Early Modern Letters Online and its related network and community resource Women’s Early Modern Letters Online, and at the Royal Collections in The Hague. 


Dr Ineke Huysman: ineke.huysman[at]huygens.knaw.nl