From grain merchant to aristocrat

When we think of the Golden Age, we think of Hooft: an atypical Dutchman – cultivated, generous tolerant and courteous. His poems are still read and sung today, and his plays are performed regularly.

The grandfather of the poet and historian Pieter Cornelisz Hooft (1581-1647), Willem Janz was born in Zaandam and sailed the Baltic Sea on a grain ship. Pieter’s father, Cornelis Willemsz, established himself in Amsterdam. He was also a grain merchant, but he rose to be burgomaster. Joost van den Vondel wrote a striking poem about Cornelis Willemsz in which he paid tribute to his integrity and his tolerance.

Pieter Cornelisz Hooft is the most famous offspring of the Hooft line. He received an aristocratic education, which included a tour of Italy. It was there that Hooft became acquainted with Italian culture, and the poet Hooft was born. He is thought to have been the first Dutchman to have visited the opera.

Back in Holland, Hooft was made governor of Het Gooi. From the well-known Muiderslot Castle, he managed administrative and legal matters. There he also wrote the poems and plays for which he is still famous, and he would receive his friends from Amsterdam, who also wrote poems and played music.

Hooft was important for the development of the Dutch language. Dutch was the vernacular, whereas Latin was the language that was used for scholarly texts. Hooft wrote his great historical works in Dutch and in this way he contributed to the creation of modern Dutch.


  • Detail of the portrait of P.C. Hooft by Michiel van Mierevelt.

  • Detail of the portrait of P.C. Hooft by Michiel van Mierevelt.


Items related to this story