The Correspondence of Amalia von Solms-Braunfels (1,177 letters)

Primary Contributors:

Ineke Huysman, Huygens ING


Amalia von Solms-Braunfels as Diana, by Gerard van
Honthorst. c.1632. (Koninklijke Verzamelingen, Den Haag, inv.no. SC/1414)

Amalia von Solms-Braunfels (1602–1675)

Amalia von Solms-Braunfels (1602–1675) was born in Braunfels, the third daughter of Count Johann Albrecht I of Solms-Braunfels, and became lady-in-waiting to the ‘Winter Queen’, Elizabeth Stuart, around 1615. When Elizabeth’s court-in-exile moved to The Hague, Amalia accompanied her mistress and a series of unexpected events led to her marriage in 1625 to the Dutch Stadtholder Frederik Hendrik von Oranje-Nassau (1584–1647).

Amalia’s position allowed her to act as a patroness of the arts and thus exert great influence over the development of a new court culture in The Hague. She also played a major role in the arranged marriages of her children and grandchildren, with her eldest son, Stadtholder Willem II van Oranje-Nassau (1625–1640), marrying Mary Stuart, Princess Royal (1631–1660), and her grandson, Stadtholder Willem III (1650–1702), the future king William III of England, marrying Mary Stuart (1662–1694), the daughter of the Stuart king James II. In addition, Amalia exercised great political influence over her husband, impacting Dutch international relations even after his death. Although she held no formal position, her political weight was recognized widely by ambassadors, governors, and princely rulers.

While much of her correspondence has been lost, the letters that survive are primarily those exchanged between Amalia and her secretary Constantijn Huygens, who over a number of years reported daily on the health and mood of her husband and on progress in both military and political affairs. Following the death of Frederik Hendrik, Huygens remained in the service of the Oranje-Nassau family and in this position he corresponded frequently with Amalia, including with regard to the negotiations on the Principality of Oranje and about the tutelage of her grandson Willem III. Recently discovered sources — Amalia’s correspondence with Huygens and her archives in Dessau — have been described as ‘a political biography waiting to be written’ [Akkerman, 2014, p. 103].


Partners and Additional Contributors

The metadata for this catalogue in EMLO was provided by the Huygens ING under the direction of researcher Dr Ineke Huysman. Huygens ING has digitized the documents in cooperation with the Royal Collections The Netherlands in The Hague, where most of the original letters are conserved (Archief Archief Amalia van Solms, A14a-XIII-18c-1 and Archief Constantijn Huygens, G1-15). The originals of the other letters are to be found in the National Library of The Netherlands, KA 49 and Landeshauptarchiv Sachsen-Anhalt, Abteilung Dessau, A7b, 109A, nr. 59.

The calendar has been prepared for publication as a part of a collaboration with EMLO and the associated Women’s Early Modern Letters Online [WEMLO] resource. Thanks are due to Professor James Daybell and Dr Kim McLean-Fiander, and to Dr Nadine Akkerman. Cultures of Knowledge would like to thank EMLO Digital Fellows Karen Hollewand, Callum Seddon, and Sarah Ward for their work to help prepare the metadata for upload.


Contents

Currently the catalogue contains metadata of 1,177 letters written in French that date between 1627 and 1674. Of these letters, 833 are from Constantijn Huygens to Amalia von Solms, and 183 are from Amalia von Solms to Constantijn Huygens. In addition, 130 letters between Amalia von Solms and seventy-five individual correspondents have been included. Most of the records have links to digitized copies of the original documents, links to transcriptions, and links to digitized editions or to the metadata of other printed editions.

Detail of a letter from Amalia van Solms to Constantijn Huygens , 23 September 1633. (Royal Collections, Archief
Constantijn Huygens, G1-15; reproduced with kind permission from the Royal Collections The Netherlands)




Scope of Catalogue

More complete metadata for the letters that appear in the Huygens Brieven Online, including manuscript details, images, transcriptions, translations, and printed copies, may be consulted via the link provided from the letter record in EMLO.

Further research on the correspondence of Amalia von Solms will be conducted by Dr Ineke Huysman.


Further resources

Selected Printed Edition

Briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens, ed. J.A. Worp (The Hague, 1911–1917).

 

Selected Bibliography

Nadine Akkerman, Courtly Rivals in The Hague. Elizabeth Stuart & Amalia von Solms (Venlo, 2014).

Saskia Beranek, Power of the Portrait: Production, Consumption and Display of Portraits of Amalia van Solms in the Dutch Republic, unpublished PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2013.

J. N. Fernhout, Eindelijk weer samen. Inventaris van de archieven van stadhouder Willem II en Amalia van Solms en enige verwanten (The Hague, 2012).

Ineke Huysman and Ad Leerintveld, ‘New perspectives of the digitized correspondence of Constantijn Huygens (1596–1687)’, Dutch Crossing, 38, 3 (2014), pp. 244–58.

Marika Keblusek and Jori Zijlmans, eds, Princely Display: The Court of Frederik Hendrik of Orange and Amalia van Solms in The Hague (Zwolle and The Hague, 1997; translation of Vorstelijk Vertoon, 1997).

Peter van der Ploeg and Carola Vermeeren, eds, Princely Patrons: The Collection of Frederick Henry of Orange and Amalia of Solms (Zwolle and The Hague, 1997; translation of Vorstelijk Verzameld, 1997).

 

For additional biographical information, see the page at the Huygens ING and the entry in Wikipedia.

Two videos, directed by Nadine Akkerman and Jana Dambrogio, are available on Youtube. The first demonstrates the creation and opening of a very small letter sent from Constantijn Huygens to Amalia von Solms; the second concerns a letter of condolence sent by Amalia to Eleonore de Volvire.

 

Additional resources

Women’s Early Modern Letters Online [WEMLO] project page

WEMLO network and resources hub

The Wives of the Stadtholders: an exhibition (September 2016).

 

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