Joost van den Vondel (1587–1679)

The ‘prince of the Dutch poets’, Joost van den Vondel, took over his father’s stocking shop on Warmoesstraat at the age of 44. He then wrote a considerable number of plays, occasional poetry and satirical poetry. Vondel’s work is closely linked to Amsterdam. He wrote poetry for the inauguration of the City Hall and the Athenaeum Illustre and the new Municipal Theatre opened with his play Gijsbreght van Aemstel. He performed – as the semi-official city poet – at many different festivities. As an old man Vondel passed on his stocking shop to his son who unfortunately ruined the business within a few years. Vondel was forced to work as a clerk at the credit institution, the Bank van Lening. At the age of 80 he was discharged while retaining his income. Vondel died on 5 February 1679 aged 91. He was buried beneath the Nieuw Kerk on Dam Square three days later. His coffin was carried by fourteen fellow poets and admirers. In the last years of his life the poet had suffered so severely from the cold that he had already thought up an appropriate epitaph:

‘Hier leit Vondel zonder rouw,
Hy is gestorven van de kouw.’

‘Here lies Vondel still and old,
Who died because he was so cold.’


Image: City Archive Amsterdam