When the city of Antwerp, an important bulwark during the Dutch Revolt, surrendered to its besieging Catholic King Philip II in 1585, large numbers of people began searching for refuge in Germany, the northern Low Countries, and the British Isles. Many tried to resettle in the province of Holland. After some time, the large influx of migrants started to cause friction between the indigenous population and the newcomers. As has been argued extensively by Johan Briels, among others, accusations were made that due to the arrival of the Southerners, rental prices had increased, while job opportunities had decreased. The exiles were also often considered to be trouble-makers, disrupting the (religious) peace.2 Moreover, it was feared that they, unable to defend their own cities from the Spanish, might cause the loss of the towns in Holland.3 In this context, it might be expected that newcomers were reticent to publicly acknowledge their Antwerp roots. This contrasts, however, with the reality of many works published by Antwerp migrants who wrote openly about their pasts.4
One migrant, in particular, who did not hesitate to emphasise his Antwerp background, was the schoolmaster Peeter Heyns (1537–1598), whose publications while in exile illustrate the issues of migrants recounting their past in an environment that did not display an univocally positive attitude towards that past. In 1585, Heyns was forced to close his famous girls’ school, the Lauwerboom, and flee his native city of Antwerp. He was accused of professing the Protestant faith,5 and of being a member of the rebellious city council during the siege.6 Leaving friends, family, and possessions behind, Heyns moved to Frankfurt am Main, where a Netherlandish migrant community had already been established; and after four years, he relocated to Stade, near Hamburg.7 In both Frankfurt and Germany, Heyns was active as a schoolmaster. His nomadic existence continued and another four years later, in 1594, he settled in Haarlem, located in the province of Holland.8 Two of his daughters lived there and one of his sons-in-law had opened a new Lauwerboom some years earlier, giving opportunity to Heyns to once more fulfil the position of teacher during the final years of his life.9
Heyns’s burdensome status as an exile did not result in a reclusive attitude. In fact, after his arrival in the city on the Spaarne, the then 57-year-old schoolmaster proved himself to be remarkably resilient. In Antwerp, he had been a prolific author of schoolbooks, poetry, and translations. With the help of his son, Zacharias, who had moved to Amsterdam some years earlier and was establishing a bookshop there, Peeter Heyns returned to the publishing scene as a migrant. In the span of four years, Peeter and Zacharias issued eight texts written by Peeter by having them printed by Gillis Rooman in Haarlem. Having conducted extensive research on Zacharias’s bookshop, Hubert Meeus has suggested that this high pace of publishing material written by Peeter was a relatively cheap and easy way to initially develop the bookselling business.10 Nevertheless, Meeus wonders whether ‘the father used his son to diffuse his works or whether the son used the renown of his father to launch his own publishing activities’.11 A striking pattern in the way the texts have been presented supports the former option. All of the publications are, in various ways, strongly connected to Heyns’s days as a teacher in Antwerp. This Antwerp connection has been systematically emphasised: the city is mentioned explicitly in all of the publications; several texts contain nostalgic descriptions of the metropolis; and Heyns recounts his forced exile in various prefaces.
In the swiftly expanding corpus of research regarding how modern and historical refugees cope with their experiences of flight and resettlement, a possible explanation has been theorised for stressing the Antwerp connection in migrant publications, despite the described negative atmosphere. It has been shown by scholars such as Alastair Duke, Geert Janssen, and Andrew Spicer that sixteenth-century migrants often saw themselves as members of a trans-local community of migrants, based on shared experiences of exile and resettlement.12 Research by Judith Pollmann finds that this holds true for both the Protestant and Catholic refugees.13 Within these communities, stories about the lost homeland played an important role.14 It has come forth from social psychological studies that recounting stories about life before the traumatic episode of flight actually has a positive influence on migrants in general.15 Expressing feelings of nostalgia, or idealizing the past, helps individuals in coping with the present by stimulating acceptance of the new situation.16 Nostalgic portrayals of the homeland especially play an important role in helping migrants cope with their past and set goals for their future, trying to recreate what has been lost.17 Furthermore, retelling the story of the exile can be a helpful tool to process what has happened and to justify previous decisions. These stories have been shown to change over time, forming a narrative that helps those involved, at that time, to understand and accept the reasons for the exile.18 In his dissertation, Johannes Müller has focused on the stories told about the past by people on the move during the Dutch Revolt. Müller’s findings support the positive effects of nostalgia for migrants found in the social psychological studies: it had emotional benefits for processing what had happened and supported internal cohesion of the trans-local migrant groups.19 As will be demonstrated, the manner in which Antwerp and the flight are presented in Heyns’s Haarlem publications indeed corresponds on many levels with the conceptual and theoretical framework surrounding nostalgia and migration adopted by Müller.
However, Heyns takes the method of coping with flight through references to the homeland, as described by other researchers of migrants, even further. It is argued here that his publications targeted another side of the existing reputation of Antwerp and its inhabitants: namely, the city’s fame as a trading metropolis with a flourishing educational system. Seen in this light, the stress put on Antwerp in Heyns’s printed texts was not just emotionally, but also commercially, purposeful. It can be considered part of a publication strategy that used overt references to Antwerp as a brand in order to establish the schoolmaster in his new environment. Thus, Heyns’s publications demonstrate how refugees could astutely use their backgrounds as actual selling points to create commercial value.
The multifaceted way in which Heyns made use of his native city has come forth from a comparative analysis of the pre-exile and exile editions of his publications, and a study of the Haarlem publications focusing on the key elements of nostalgic treatment of the hometown as they have come to the forefront in research conducted by Müller and others: explicit mentions of Antwerp; descriptions of the city; and references to the episode of flight itself. After introducing the publications in question, the intended audience on which the suggested printing strategy was focalised will be addressed. This intended readership is used as a background for interpreting the results of the comparative study which will subsequently be presented. These results are discussed in the light of the concept of nostalgia and its positive emotional affects, as pointed out by Müller and others, after which their commercial assets are scrutinized in order to demonstrate the double objective – both emotional and financial – that emerges from these exile publications.
In 1594, Zacharias Heyns, Peeter Heyns, and the Haarlem printer Gillis Rooman immediately started to publish texts written by Peeter in Antwerp. At that point, Zacharias had already been founding his business in Amsterdam for some time. Apparently, he had saved enough funds during his time as an apprentice under the famous Antwerp printer, Christopher Plantin.20 It is unlikely that Zacharias’s father was able to help him financially given his precarious status as an exile and his history of financial troubles in Antwerp, even when his school seemed to run relatively well.21 Before the death of the schoolmaster in 1598, at least eight different books were published in Haarlem. Not all Haarlem prints had already been printed in Antwerp, but they were all written there. Heyns continued to compose new texts during his exile in Germany but none of his post-Antwerp productions were put on the printing press in Haarlem.22
Of course, the nature of the Haarlem publications is important for our understanding of the goals set by father and son Heyns in printing them. Among the texts in question are three school plays, originally written by Heyns for his Antwerp Lauwerboom. They are titled Miroir des mesnageres (1595), Miroir des meres (1596), and Miroir des vefves (1596) (fig. 1).23 The productions were staged in Antwerp between 1578 and 1583, but they were printed for the first time in Haarlem.24 New editions appeared of Heyns’s schoolbooks Cort onderwijs (1597) and Instruction de la lecture francoise et du fondement de l’arithmetique (1597).25 Both had already been published in Antwerp. No extant copies of the Haarlem edition of the Instruction are known, and the same is true for the Cort onderwijs of 1597. However, another edition of this text appeared in 1605, comprising paratexts written by, and for, Heyns that mention the year 1597.26 The 1605 edition has been used for this study. These different schoolbooks all target students of the French language; they are either written in French or explain the rules of the language.
During his Antwerp period, Heyns had cooperated with another author, probably his colleague Étienne de Walcourt,27 to produce a French translation of an emblematic fable book. It contained engravings and accompanying fables in sonnet form. The Antwerp edition was titled Esbatement moral des animaux (1578).28 In 1595, the sonnets were published in Haarlem without their engravings under the title Les fables d’Aesope, et d’autres, en rithme françoise.29 Only Heyns was mentioned as the author of the text. In 1596, a Dutch pocket atlas for which he had written the texts was republished. This Spieghel der Werelt had first been printed in Antwerp in 1577.30 Heyns had also been responsible for the French counterpart of this atlas, Miroir du monde (1579).31 This text, too, was reprinted in Haarlem, shortly after Heyns’s death in 1598.32 Of the Dutch 1596 edition, no surviving copies are known.33 Atlases were often used in schools during this period. It has been argued by Paul J. Smith that the fable sonnets, without their engravings, also served an educational purpose.34 Every (re)print was thus, in some way, connected to Heyns’s position as a schoolmaster, as well as to his hometown. Because of the large presence of educational works dealing with the French language, it seems that father and son Heyns were targeting an audience of students of this tongue, which was becoming increasingly popular in Holland due to its importance as a lingua franca of trade. Many new French schools were created in the northern Low Countries at this time, especially by southern migrants such as Heyns.35 It appears from the dedications of the texts, however, that the Heyns family was trying to reach not just schoolchildren with their books, but people who could actually be of benefit to them in their present situation.
A two-fold audience
It is clear from the texts’ dedications printed in Haarlem that father and son Heyns focused on two distinguishable groups of readers. Some texts targeted the dispersed refugee community, while others addressed the local population of Holland as represented by its civic leaders. Peeter Heyns thus dedicated the Cort onderwijs to the mayors, councils, and aldermen of Haarlem. The three school plays were offered, not to prominent members of the local community in Holland, but to women from the Antwerp diaspora. Heyns dedicated them to Susanna van der Meulen-de Malapert, Margaretha Hooftman-van Nispen, and Abigael Cromhout-Fagel, respectively. These women were born into renowned southern families. Their husbands, fathers, and brothers held important administrative and commercial positions.
Margaretha’s late husband was the well-known Gillis Hooftman. He had stood at the head of an important firm in Antwerp with contacts all over Europe.36 Abigael’s father had been an alderman in Bruges and a delegate of the States-General in Antwerp.37 In 1591, she married the Amsterdam Calvinist Nicolaes Cromhout. His father was a member of the city council of Amsterdam.38 Susanna van der Meulen-de Malapert, lastly, was the sister of a merchant, Nicolaes de Malapert. She married the highly respected Andries van der Meulen. Andries was an officer in Antwerp’s civic militia. In 1581, he became an alderman of Antwerp, representing the city in the States of Brabant and the States-General.39 These three women were amongst the most famous and respected Antwerp migrants and constituted the ‘aristocracy’ of this dispersed group.40 Through these ladies, Heyns not only addressed the local Haarlem community, but also the refugees, whom he approached through their own elite. By dedicating his plays to these women, he both acknowledged the existence of this trans-local community and affirmed his own belonging to it.
Unfortunately, it is unclear whether these two audiences were successfully reached by the publications of father and son Heyns since information about the numbers of copies printed and sold, as well as information about the identity of the purchasers, is lacking. It seems that some publications had more success than others. As argued by Hubert Meeus, the Miroir plays were printed separately; but when the third text appeared, a new title page was created that presented the three plays together as a single book.41 This might suggest that the plays did not sell well individually. Conversely, the Cort onderwijs was reissued by Zacharias in 1605, and thus, seems to have had a larger success.42 Although the true impact of the publishing strategy set up by father and son Heyns will remain unclear, its content can be studied by using the intended audience for interpreting the references to Antwerp and the exile in the publications.
The Antwerp past
When the Haarlem texts’ content and presentation are considered, the number of references to Heyns’s hometown, Antwerp, is striking. In every surviving publication, the link between the schoolmaster and Antwerp is referenced, revealing that Zacharias and Peeter Heyns were not reluctant to make their background known in their new home. All of the republished texts have received a carefully modified presentation, and the references to Antwerp certainly did not survive by mistake. In the case of the atlas Miroir du monde, liminary elements have been added and removed, and the fable sonnets have received a completely new appearance. However, in all the cases, references to Antwerp have been maintained despite the revisions, and often, even new Antwerp mentions have been added. The Miroir du monde contains a newly added woodcut portrait of the schoolmaster, made in 1595, carrying the subscript ‘P.H. ANTV’, meaning ‘Peeter Heyns Antverpiensis’ (fig. 2).43 In an ode to Heyns written by the French poet Jean de la Jessée, Antwerp is also mentioned:
Through the Universe shows Antwerp,
So Antwerp sees the Universe.44
This ode was, contrary to the woodcut, already present in the 1582 Antwerp edition of the Miroir du monde; but interestingly enough, the explicit reference to an Antwerp audience and an Antwerp creator has not been removed from the Haarlem edition.45 Furthermore, the text accompanying the map of Brabant in the atlas still contains the following phrase written by Heyns in 1579: ‘Antwerp (the city where we were born)’.46 It thus focuses on the origins of the author. In the dedication of the Cort onderwijs to the city government of Haarlem, Heyns refers to the Antwerp context in which the text has been written:
That this Cort Onderwijs was written by my pen,
Printed first in Antwerp, and published there
To the benefit of those who love this art.
And now, once more, under your honourable Names,
Corrected and reprinted […].47
Furthermore, in a new laudatory sonnet written for this grammar book, a colleague calls him ‘a son of Antwerp’.48 And another poem in the publication, written while Heyns was in exile, mentions his time near the river Scheldt.49 The 1595 edition of the emblematic fable book also indicates that the texts have been composed in Antwerp in an introductory poem that has been maintained in shortened form, while the layout and presentation of the text have been thoroughly revised.50 In all of these texts, Heyns and his laudators employ a ‘rhetoric of belonging’, emphasizing his Antwerp roots.51
Especially in the three Miroir plays, which had not previously been published, references to Antwerp are omnipresent. Heyns nostalgically calls it ‘our very dear fatherland’ and refers to his past life in the city in each of the newly written dedications.52 He reminds his dedicatees that Abigael Cromhout was a former student of his, and that Margaretha Hooftman had sent her two daughters to the Lauwerboom. These women closely witnessed and experienced the golden age of the Antwerp school. In the dedication to Margaretha, the schoolmaster refers to the performances of the dramatic texts ‘in a number of which were also the young ladies [her] dear daughters’.53 Moreover, the exact dates of the renderings of the Miroir des vefves are given at the end of the text, stating they had been ‘performed and represented in Antwerp, the Year 1582. the first and second of July’.54 The year of the performance of the Miroir des meres, 1580, is noted in the margins.55 These printed texts refer to concrete moments and situations connected to the glory days of the Lauwerboom, repeatedly mentioning the city of Antwerp. In doing so, these publications confirm the need witnessed in earlier research on historical and present day migrants to remember the past and, more specifically, the lost hometown.
Heyns not only recounts the days when his Antwerp school was thriving, but also provides ample information about his exile and nomadic life – not holding back from telling the world that he fled from his native town. His friend, Hendrik Laurensz. Spiegel, mentions Heyns’s wanderings in a laudatory text for the Cort onderwijs by naming the different rivers along which the schoolmaster resided: ‘From the Scheldt the Main: do the Elf, now the Sparen’.56 From the city on the Scheldt – Antwerp – the schoolmaster moved to Frankfurt am Main, on to Stade along the Elbe,57 to end up in Haarlem on the Spaarne. Heyns himself mentions these wanderings also. He writes about having known his dedicatee Margaretha ‘both in Antwerp (our very dear fatherland) and in Germany, Oostlande, and elsewhere’.58 She is a fellow sufferer, moving, like him, from place to place.
Heyns puts extra stress on the actual moment of the flight in his dedication to Susanna van der Meulen-de Malapert, whom he met when he left Antwerp. He starts his dedicatory text by referring to this exact moment, saying that he has respected her ever since ‘I crossed the sea with you, highly esteemed Lady’.59 To avoid any confusion as to which episode is intended, the dramatic year of 1585 is given in the margins of the text. Heyns praises Susanna for her strength during the journey away from home: ‘supporting with all patience the affliction of abandoning your goods and Fatherland, from which you have exiled yourself voluntarily for the sake of Religion’.60 Heyns commends Susanna, and thus himself, for having put their religious beliefs over their attachment to earthly goods and places, justifying their migration. It is a reminder of the good cause for which they fled. But it also recalls the troubles the refugees endured.
Those who decided to leave their homes during this period, both Catholics and Protestants, often emphasised the necessity of their move by, for example, referring to Biblical exodus-narratives.61 Heyns not only emphasises his status as a migrant, he also shows that respect was due to the migrant community for the commendable choice to leave everything behind.62 In a justifying manner that is more often witnessed in refugee communities, he recounts the episode of exile, targeting not only the trans-local migrant group, but also the local hosts in Holland. For the migrant community, this narrative of the flight produced a soothing effect, reaffirming the righteousness of their choices.63 The Northerners, on the other hand, were armed with further insights as to the background of their ‘permanent guests’ and reminded of their shared beliefs and common enemy. The ‘sake of Religion’ to which Heyns refers is, of course, the reformed faith, shared by locals and newcomers alike and threatened by Philip II.
Changing descriptions of the city
It is not just for having left that the migrants should be respected, but also for what they left behind, namely a thriving commercial city and the bulwark of the Revolt. In his Miroir du monde, Heyns implicitly refers to the leading role of Antwerp in the war. Several editions of this text appeared both before and after the fall of the metropolis. The changes that were made after 1585 are enlightening in revealing aspects of the story that Heyns wished to emphasise or explain. In an edition of the book from 1579, Heyns glorifies Antwerp. He stresses multiple times that the city was feared by its (Spanish) enemies, and he boasts of the strength of the city walls and the defensive structures. Thanks to recent fortifications, Antwerp was now ‘unconquerable’.64 Of course, in 1598, the city had proven to be less unconquerable than supposed by Heyns. Instead of concealing this painful memory,65 he decided to explain what had happened:
[Antwerp] was thought to be unconquerable but because of a shortage on food supplies, she has been forced to surrender again to the Spaniard, in the year 1585, in the month of August, after withholding the siege of the Prince of Parma for over a year, while he had blocked the Scheldt by a bridge made of ships, enforced with weaponry, so the city could not receive supply goods by water.66
By explicitly mentioning that this failure to defend the city was caused by famine, Heyns does not enter into conflict with his earlier praise of the fortifications of the city, nor does he attribute its fall to a lack of courage on the side of the citizens. Famine was not an enemy they could fight and conquer. By providing a justification of the conduct of the Antwerpians during the siege of their city, Heyns’s description of Antwerp functions as an apologie. It is a written form of self-defence, providing insights into the reasons behind the behaviour and choices of the besieged inhabitants of the metropolis. The schoolmaster accentuates the battle of Antwerp’s inhabitants against Philip II and stresses the losses they suffered. Thus, he focuses on Antwerp as a fighting and revolting metropolis that was leading the Revolt; but he also presents her as a city that suffered for the shared ideals.
Both the 1579 and the 1598 atlases indicate that international trade thrives in Antwerp. It is even called the ‘Marché du monde’.67 While referring to its leading role in the Revolt and its inevitable surrender, Heyns upholds an image of the city as commercially active.68 Studies have shown that commerce did not disappear from Antwerp, but it did lose its international character after 1585, giving Heyns’s statements a nostalgic tinge.69 The image of a metropolis, where international trade attracted foreign merchants and where money could be made, also comes forth in one of the school plays. The story of the Miroir des mesageres is set against the background of a thriving mercantile city where people of various nations tried to make a fortune. The main characters of the play are two sisters who are both married to cloth merchants. The multiple references to ships carrying textile arriving, leaving, and sinking, suggest the existence of a large and busy seaport like that of the city on the Scheldt:
Your ship has wrecked and sunk at sea with all the fabric it was carrying. Oh what a terrible shame that such a thing happens to you!70
The presence of multiple foreign characters shows the international market place Antwerp housed:
I was, señor Alonce said, still busy yesterday doing business with [master Edoüard] concerning a type of cloth from England, rising up to a sum of 800 pounds.71
In the Haarlem publications, Antwerp is described multiple times in various forms. While the Miroir des mesnageres shows the city in full bloom, the Miroir du monde recounts the story of its fall while maintaining its glorious image.
If the presented results are interpreted in the light of the conceptual framework of nostalgia, they clearly support the findings of Johannes Müller and the theories proposed in social psychology. By overtly and continuously referring to his Antwerp roots and forced exile, Heyns presented himself as a refugee belonging to the international group of migrants that shared this Antwerp past and the experiences of flight and diaspora. Heyns’s Miroir des mesnageres was dedicated to a renowned female member of this community and, thus, indirectly targeted the trans-local group as a whole. It provided this refugee community with nostalgic scenery, showing them their home, once bustling with mercantile activity. In this manner, Heyns reminded the migrants of their shared past, presented in a nostalgic manner that, as has been shown by research in social psychology, would strengthen their ability to recover from their traumatising experiences and rebuild their lives in the new environment.
Heyns’s Miroir du monde contains a narrative about the fall of Antwerp that could serve a similar purpose. By recounting the episode of famine, he provided his fellow migrants with a version of the story of the siege that acquitted them of having failed to defend their city. He gave them a view of the events with which they could live.72 They could pass the story on to later generations and share it with their fellow refugees, creating a lasting collective memory culture that united the migrant community.73 Simultaneously, Heyns stimulated the integration process of the migrants in Holland by providing his local readers with insight into the background of the refugees.74 They came from a respected metropolis that they could not defend because of starvation. Their city had been at the front line of the common battle against the Spanish oppressor. Heyns’s writings point out the common enemy of both the local community and the migrants, thus bringing these groups closer together.75 The refugees were slandered after their city had fallen, but through published texts recounting the events from their perspective, both their reputation and self-esteem could be restored.
As nostalgic representations and remembrances of the city of Antwerp, Heyns’s texts had moral value for the trans-local migrant community. But in this case, the use of the homeland by a refugee goes even further – and can even be said to have commercial value. While the enormous influx of migrants did not always trigger positive responses from the local population in the Northern Netherlands, the city of Antwerp did enjoy some esteem. Its reputation as marketplace of the world was widespread and the cities of Holland were striving to recreate and emulate her former success.76 It seems that by stressing the Antwerp character of the texts, Heyns answered to specific demands connected to this pursuit. These books reflected how life in the trading metropolis had been and could be again. They were artefacts from a golden age that many were trying to restore. In a way, one could see in the references to the Brabant metropolis a sort of trademark, increasing the marketability of the texts.77 The references to Antwerp in Heyns’s texts are likely to have been part of a selling strategy, answering to the demand for Antwerp productions.
Especially in the case of the publications meant for children’s education, it would add value to Heyns’s publications to mention their Antwerp background. The city was renowned for its educational system and the quality of its schools and teachers.78 This reputation was recognized both by inhabitants of the Low Countries and by visiting foreigners.79 Schoolbooks were certainly better appreciated if they had been produced in this environment, which explains why Heyns would refer to the Antwerp context of creation of his texts. Moreover, he could refer to his own thriving school by giving concrete examples of his past experiences as a schoolteacher in the famous Lauwerboom. In the dedications to his school plays, he could even give the names of some of the famous ladies who had been his pupils. Similar strategies were used in the visual arts, where painters would, for example, emphasise their associations with the so-called Flemish school in order to strengthen their positions on the market.80 It is doubtful that Heyns was the only one to apply these tactics in the field of book production.
The Cort onderwijs, the Instruction de la lecture françoise, the three school plays, as well as the atlases and the Fables d’Aesope, could be used as schoolbooks and thus, would profit from their Antwerp presentation. The Miroir des mesnageres even catered to several needs at the same time. It was a product of the successful Antwerp educational system and also a reflection of the commercial activities that were transpiring in the city. Because of the Antwerp origins of these texts and their overt references to the Brabant metropolis, their value in Holland increased even though the attitude of the local population towards the migrants was not always positive. The province of Holland received a great number of Antwerp schoolmasters in this period, many of whom also published schoolbooks. It is likely that other migrants, too, reaped the financial benefits attached to their background, but further research is needed to shed light on the actual application of this stratagem.
Heyns’s use of his background in his publications is an exemplary case of resilience and his texts pertinently show how particular publications can obtain a different function and value in a new context. He used his past and his hometown in order to strengthen his professional, social, and emotional position in the present, applying his background as a form of starting capital after his move. Both the refugees and the local community wanted to recreate Antwerp’s glory days, but for divergent – although, possibly overlapping – reasons. On the one hand, the publications satisfied a particular demand of the local population, creating financial revenue. On the other, the publications resonated with Heyns’s fellow refugees, creating connections within the community by recounting their glory days and the story of their exile. This confirms earlier research on the importance of remembering the homeland for refugees of all ages. Furthermore, the practical and commercial use that Heyns made of his background shows an unexplored and unique way in which migrants can use their past. Through references to the lost homeland, he generated both emotional and financial value. The manner in which Heyns ‘branded’ Antwerp could be a matter of interest, not only for those studying the migratory movements in the sixteenth-century Low Countries, but even more generally for researchers of nostalgia and migration, both past and present.