Aernout van Overbeke and His Jokes
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Aernout van Overbeke came from a family of Flemish merchants. His grandfather converted to Protestantism and was forced to flee from Antwerp to Germany during the Eighty Years’ War. He settled in Frankfurt-am-Main, a refuge for other Flemish merchants too. Various members of his family were scattered among different cities in Germany. His son Matthijs van Overbeke later moved to Amsterdam, which had a population of around 10,000 immigrants from the Southern Netherlands by 1620.1 A year later Van Overbeke and his wife Agatha Scholiers settled in Leiden, where he bought a house overlooking the Rapenburg canal. He also owned a country house. He had them both renovated on a grand scale. Van Overbeke was very rich: his wealth was estimated at 400,000 guilders.2 That was 1,000 times the annual income of a craftsman. However, Van Overbeke ran into financial problems towards the end of his life, as can be seen from the comment of an English traveller on his country house in 1634: ‘[It is] a great house promising much, but entering into it and examining the rooms I found nothing answerable to what was expected.
KeywordsReturn Journey Country House Poetic Work Dutch Culture Dutch Republic
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