Cornelis Claesz (1551-1609)

The publisher and bookseller Cornelis Claesz was born in Leuven (Belgium) and had a bookshop on Damrak. His Protestant parents had fled from Leuven to Emden from where the young Cornelis travelled via Cologne to Enkhuizen. He only settled in Amsterdam in 1578 when a Protestant city council was established. In this period Amsterdam grew to become the information centre of Europe. Cornelis Claesz’ bookshop on Damrak was within easy reach of merchants and sailors and he kept them up to date on the latest news and discoveries and sold spectacular travel journals, like Willem Barentsz’ account of his travels to Nova Zembla. The nautical and celestial charts he published were even more important and helped the skippers start their voyages with the information they needed. The books and charts in the shop were piled up high in wooden cabinets. Cornelis Claesz also sold illustrations from well known artists like Albrecht Dürer. As a bookseller Cornelis was a member of the Guild of Saint Luke which was also the association for painters. After his death in 1609 Cornelis was buried in the Oude Kerk (old church).


Photo: City Archive Amsterdam.