Content: Titlepage →



General Introduction

This is our preliminary edition of Beginselen van Gods Koninkrijk by Pieter Huygen. We intend to add a full introduction to this edition. For now we have limited ourselves to the bare essentials.

Pieter Huygen

Pieter Huygen was born in 1662 and died after 1724.1 Not much can be said about Huygen's life and career. We know he took part in meetings held by so-called 'Collegianten' in Amsterdam. These 'collegianten' formed a group outside the Reformed Church. The members of these religious gatherings, mainly Remonstrants and Mennonites, strived for a more profound and sincere conduct and organized meetings and discussions about religious issues in order to spread their beliefs and to find the strength to withstand the opposition of the Reformed Church. During these meetings, all of the men and women present were allowed and expected to express their feelings and beliefs. It is possible Huygen met Jan Luyken during one of these gatherings. The two became good friends, and Luyken ended up etching the picturae of Huygen's Beginselen van Gods Koninkrijk. Luyken's and Huygen's emblematic work is clearly related, even beyond the creation of the picturae by Luyken.

Huygen did publish only one emblem book under his own name. But he also worked together with his brother Jan in publishing his Stichtelijke Rymen ('Edifying Poetry') in 1700. Jan Huygen's collection of poetry is enlightened with laudatory poems by Pieter Huygen, Jan Luyken, Adriaan Spinniker, Gesina Brit, Barent Joosten Stol and Cornelis van Eeke.

Beginselen van Gods Koninkrijk

About The Book

The book was first printed in 1689 in Amsterdam by Pieter Arentsz's widow ('By de Wed. Pieter Arentsz. in de Beurs-straat in de drie Rapen') and was reprinted at least ten times. At least 31 copies of the book can still be found in public collections.2 Jan Luyken designed and engraved all illustrations for the book: the title print and twenty-five emblems. Furthermore Luyken's works, mainly Voncken der liefde Jesu and Jezus en de Ziel, had a great influence on the text which Huygen wrote. Therefore the collection often has the same Bömistic character.

As a result of that it is less remarkable that the whole book is in Dutch. It is strongly connected to the goal of Pieter Huygen: the reader could easily use the songs and prayers to practise their own belief.

On the title-page, Huygen wanted to get the message across that all humans have a change to end up in heaven. But in order to keep this change, or enlarge our changes, we have to read the right kind of literatur. And he makes it very clear that his own book should be seen as 'the right literature'. The woman looking upwards, depicts Religion. She is a pious lady, looking upwards so that her eyes can meet God, after having read the edifying work that she balances on her knees. She is pointing at her hearth to indicate it is filled with God, and is able to share her feelings with Him. Besides her we see a pot with a soon to be flowering, growing plant. The anchor and cross places at her feet represent the faith and hope of a woman who is shying away from worldly pleasures, feeding herself with godly goods. The winged boy, representing divine love, is helping her. The message of this title-page turns out to be the program of the whole book.

Ever since the third print (1700) the Beginselen van Gods Koninkrijk (The Essentials and Beginnings of Gods Kingdom embodied in mankind by means of emblems) was bound in one volume with the Stichtelijke Rymen of Jan Huygen. In 1700 he helped his brother Jan in publishing his Stichtelijke Rymen (Edifying Poetry). In return, his elder brother had already advised on the Beginselen, that's what Pieter tells us in the preface. Not only Jan Luyken, but also Adriaan Spinniker, Gesina Brit, Barent Joosten Stol and Cornelis van Eeke were congenial spirits of Pieter Huygen and wrote (laudatory) poems for this book and that of his brother.

Editorial procedures

Copy Used for This Edition

In making this edition of Beginselen van Gods Koninkrijk we have used the copy of the edition of 1689 conserved in the Royal Library (The Hague), shelf number 2 D 8.


We have transcribed the full text from the The Hague copy and encoded this text using TEI mark-up, to allow for flexibility in presentation and non-destructive editorial enhancement of the text. The full Project Guidelines for transcription, editorial intervention and indexing of the text are available elsewhere on this site.


The full Emblem Project Utrecht bibliography may be accessed using the menu option at the left side of this (or any) window. A selection of literature relevant to Beginselen van Gods Koninkrijk follows here.

Back to top ↑


This brief sketch of the life of Huygen and the printing history of Beginselen van Gods Koninkrijkis based on DBNL and Visser, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Menonite Prayer Books and Raasveld, Pictura, poesis, musica
The number of reprints and copies is based on Union Catalogue of Emblem Books The first to fourth print were published by Pieter Arentsz's Widow (the second also by Albert Visscher and the third of 1700 also by J. van Nieuweveen and Cornelis vander Sijs, the fourth of 1724 also by Cornelis vander Sys), the print of 1730 by Jacobus Verheyde, the prints of 1738 and 1740 by Jacob ter Beek and the print of ca. 1782 by Johannes Geyger.