Ɵ Pierre Albert de Launay, Remarques sommaires faites sur la maison d'Aerssen, in French, Latin and Dutch, a de luxe manuscript produced for Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck, the first governor of Surinam, on paper [Northern Netherlands (North Brabant), dated 26 August 1684, and probably also 1688 and immediately after]
57 leaves (plus 2 endleaves at front and 4 at back), complete, single column of 25 lines in a professional hand (some sections italic), titles in simple capitals, major initials in gold with gold foliage on blue grounds, frontispiece with large architectural inscription within female figures who hold the rod of Asclepius and the scales of justice, and cornucopia, arms of van Aerssen at head (with three helms and an ornamental collar) and another somewhat oxidised crowned coat-of-arms at foot (most probably those of St. André Montbrun, over which the family from Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck onwards held a marquisate), one large two-page map in pen and colour wash, eight pages of coats-of-arms in colour, nine fine drawings of seals and a tomb in pen and colour wash, one double-page opening of coloured and illuminated arms arranged in genealogical tree, seal covered with paper on last page, a few loose leaves neatly rejoined to volume, a few spots and stains, but overall in excellent condition and on heavy paper, 436 by 282mm.; bound in contemporary green patterned silk over pasteboards, gilt edges (some wear to edges, and old repair to binding), prints of Cornelis van Aerssen (1545-1627), and his father Francois van Aerssen (1572-1641), both by "A. Schouman", loosely inserted in volume (but note these members of this family not associated with content of this book), along with a Dutch newspaper article (Algemeen Handelsblad, 3 August 1963) on Cornelius van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck (1637-88)
A fine seventeenth-century manuscript principally produced for an important member of the Dutch nobility, who served as first governor of Surinam in the Dutch Guianas; in outstanding condition and still in its contemporary green silk covered binding
1. Produced on commission for Pierre Albert de Launay (d. 1694), the Brabant Herald of Arms, for presentation to Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck (1637-88): details recorded in inscription in cartouche on frontispiece, and with the completion date, de Launay's official seal on p. 96 and signatures at end of some sections. Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck, lord of Sommelsdijk, Bommel, de Plaat and Spijk (in Zuid-Holland and Gelderland), was a prominent member of one of the wealthiest families of the 'Golden Age' of Netherlandish history. He was fundamental in the founding of the Surinam Society (a private trade company), and was elected by the West-India Company and the city of Amsterdam as the first governor of the colony of Surinam (founded 1667, gaining independence in 1975) in the Dutch Guianas. He left Europe in 1683 for Paramaribo. He is remembered as an authoritarian but efficient governor, and was killed by a band of mutinous Dutch soldiers in 1688, during an argument over alleged poor food and wages. As this volume specifically addresses him at the opening of the text as "Corneille D'Aerssen ... Seigneur en partie de Surinam, Gouverneur & Capitaine General de toute de Colonie" and its closing address is dated 1684, it may have been commissioned as a gift to honour his appointment as governor. However, the arms at the head of the frontispiece are those of his son, François (1669-1740), and the armorial genealogy on pp. 75-76 also terminates in the arms of this figure. The research for the volume may have taken some years, and it was perhaps not complete or bound when Cornelius was murdered, and it was finished for Cornelius' son. François had accompanied his father to Surinam, returning briefly to Europe in 1687, before travelling back to settle his father's affairs there. He then took up a post as director of the Society of Surinam.
2. Still in the library of the Baron van Aerssen in 1838, when on 15 December that year it was shown to a meeting of the Belgian royal historical commission (see Compte-Rendu des séances de la Commission Royale d'histoire , VII, 1844, pp. 299-300).
3. Janna Carla van der Veen-Hondius (1929-2001) of Duinbeek house in Oostkapelle, Zeeland: her printed armorial bookplate affixed to front endleaf.
4. Sold in Christie's, 15 July 2015, lot 35 (but there misidentified as produced for the wrong Cornelis van Aerssen) for £5625.
This gargantuan codex is a triumph of seventeenth-century manuscript production. It celebrates the descent of the van Aerssen family to Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck and his son François, collecting together relevant accounts and documents from a wide variety of sources. After an address by de Launay, the volume includes "Remarques sommaires sur la maison d'Aerssen" (p. 1); a genealogical table showing the links of the family to the house of Moers/Meurs and their dynastic founder Wallerand de Limbourgh (p. 5), followed by a tract on the same (p. 15); a hand drawn and coloured map of the Duchy of Guelders showing the holdings of the family (pp. 22-23), after the work of Nicolaes van Geelkercken, and probably copied from Joannes Janssonius (1639); extracts from an account of the nobility of Guelders in Henricus Aquilius' printed Compendio Chronici Geldrici (Cologne, 1566; here p. 25); followed by charters apparently copied from originals in the archives of the towns of Venlo and Nijmegen and the Cistercian abbey at Kamp/Campen, with skilfully drawn and hand-coloured depictions of their seals, parts of an armorial from the time of "Comte Reinault de Gueldres" dated 1330, with over 140 coats-of-arms in colour, and extracts from a martyrology of Kamp Abbey, and a drawing of the late fifteenth-century tomb of Theodore d'Aerssen and Marguerite de Carpen from the church in that monastery; an armorial tree of descent of the van Aerssen family down to François (1669-1740), the reigning head of the family in the 1680s (pp. 75-76); followed by further documents and a final address by de Launay (p. 93), dated at its end.