Isaac Pontanus

Isaac Pontanus. Rerum et urbis Amstelodamensium historia. Amsterdam, 1611.

Isaac Pontanus. Rerum et urbis Amstelodamensium historia. Amsterdam, 1611.

This is the first detailed history of Amsterdam. Its author, Isaac Pontanus (1571-1639), received his doctoral degree at Leiden and studied with Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). The work far exceeds the limits of the usual town descriptions of the period, elaborately incorporating the history of the voyages of exploration and commerce undertaken by the enterprising citizens of Amsterdam.

Pontanus also describes in detail the activities on the Amsterdam stock and commodity markets, which were among the world’s first and at that time the most important. Of special importance are the accounts Pontanus includes of Dutch attempts to find a North-East Passage and of the first two Dutch voyages to the East Indies. The book aroused attacks from various sides and was on the Index of prohibited books for several years.