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Cornelis de Hooghe (The Hague 1541- The Hague 1583)

Cornelis de Hooghe was almost certainly a bastard born from an incidental relation of emperor Charles V with a daughter of Cornelis Aerts van der Hooch, mayor of Delft. As a young man, he lived at the Duke of Brunswick's court. Philip Galle, one of the humanist Dirck Volkertszoon Coornhert's pupils, was his teacher in the art of engraving.
In 1565 Cornelis de Hooghe made a map of Holland and Zeeland and engraved another one for Guicciardini's ‘Descrittione.... di tutti i paesi bassi’ in 1566. In 1567 he produced for Margaretha of Parma 114 big and 52 smaller plates for 'Della architectura militare'. In 1569 he accomplished his masterwork, the 'Exercitatio alphabetica'.
At the end of 1569 he fled to England, because of religious problems and to start a trade on South European countries with his partners in the Dutch town of Veere. By evading trade duties he became a wealthy man. In 1574 he made his last map, ‘Norfolciae comitatus’ part of the 'Elisabeth Atlas'. Later that year, at Hoorn, he took part in an exchange of his cousin, Lieven van Weldam, against mayor Kies of Haarlem. After another stay in Ipswich, he married the regent's daughter Maritje Tromper at Rotterdam in 1576. They had some unknown children. In 1581 he received proof of his imperial descent by one of emperor Charles V' former chamberlains. Cornelis de Hooghe also accepted a mission to start a counterrevolution in favor of Philip II. He was betrayed by the printer of his seditious booklets. After torture, which revealed the names of several accomplices, he was decapitated and quartered.


De Hooghes biography hasn't been written yet. His verdict is mentioned in works of Bor, Van Meteren and Hooft. In later collective biographies like Wagenaar's Vaderlandsche Historie and Kok's Vaderlandsch Woordenboek, he is portrayed as a traitor of his country, a fool, or as both. In the 1930ies Jakob Smit described the conspiracy more extensively.
His imperial descent has only been slightly suggested by Van Meteren without any further investigation.
De Hooghe’s character is described predominantly as haughty, treacherous and crusty, but his graphical works are called able and skillful. He saw himself as ‘a gentleman who wants peace in the country’. Nevertheless, he had some fierce quarrels in court and in two churches. Presumably he lived separated from his wife.
De Hooghe had a divergent religious opinion. Born in a strict catholic family, he later attended protestant services, but he knew many mennonites, too. His teacher Galle and his printer Plantin were members of the secret religious society The Family of Love. On the contrary, his accomplices were mainly catholic.
De Hooghe was attached to high esteem and could become Duke of Gelre should his conspiracy bear fruit. He tried to accomplish his mission peacefully with logical arguments and he was convinced that peace would bring prosperity to the Netherlands.


The aim of this study is to get a comprehensive understanding of Cornelis de Hooghe's extraordinary life, placed in the tumultuous run-up to and start of the Eighty Years War, emphasizing three aspects:
1) His supposed descent of Charles V.
2) His work as an engraver and a trader.
3) His conspiracy and the accomplices.