Famous Dutch Intellectuals & Academics

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 1 Baruch Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 24, 1632
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: February 21, 1677
Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza is best remembered for his rationalist ideas and his posthumously released book Ethics. He opposed Rene Descartes’s ideas and believed that God was an abstract entity. He was later expelled from the Jewish society, while his books were banned by the Catholic Church.

 2 Queen Máxima of the Netherlands

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands
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Famous As: Queen
Birthdate: May 17, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina

The queen consort of the Netherlands, Queen Máxima is the daughter of Argentine politician Jorge Zorreguieta. She initially worked in the sales departments of HDFC and Deutsche Bank. She apparently didn’t know she was meeting a prince when she met her husband, King Willem-Alexander, at the Seville Spring Fair.

 3 Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: October 28, 1466
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: July 12, 1536

Born as an illegitimate child of a priest from Rotterdam, Desiderius Erasmus later grew up to be a significant figure of the northern Renaissance. He is remembered for his research on free will and for being the first to edit the New Testament, replacing traditional elements with new-age humanism.

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 4 Hugo Grotius

Hugo Grotius
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Famous As: Lawyer, Theologian, Diplomat
Birthdate: April 10, 1583
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Delft, Netherlands
Died: August 28, 1645

Best known for his iconic book De jure belli ac pacis, or The Rights of War and Peace, Hugo Grotius was a Dutch humanist and author, who had also been a jurist. Due to his involvement in the Calvinist debate, he was exiled to France, where he penned most of his significant works.

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 5 Mark Rutte

Mark Rutte
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Famous As: Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 2010
Birthdate: February 14, 1967
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands

Dutch politician and VVD party leader Mark Rutte has been serving his nation as its prime minister since 2010. While he initially aspired to be a pianist, he later studied history and then worked for Unilever, before stepping into politics. He is known as Teflon Mark for recovering from controversies unscathed. 

 6 Thierry Baudet

Thierry Baudet
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 28, 1983
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Heemstede, Netherlands
Dutch politician and Forum for Democracy founder-leader Thierry Baudet is a Member of the House of Representatives. He has also been a lecturer but has mostly been in the news for his controversial opinions, such as his comparison of unvaccinated people to Jews and COVID-19 restrictions to the Holocaust.

 7 Johan Huizinga

Johan Huizinga
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Famous As: Cultural historian, Historian, University teacher, Philosopher
Birthdate: December 7, 1872
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Groningen
Died: February 1, 1945

Best known for his The Waning of the Middle Ages, Dutch historian Johan Huizinga is considered one of the pioneers of modern cultural history. Apart from teaching history, he had also taught Indian literature and was once detained by the Nazis for his criticism of fascism.

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 8 Saskia Sassen

Saskia Sassen
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Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: January 5, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands

Apart from teaching sociology at Columbia University and LSE, sociologist Saskia Sassen has also devoted over 3 decades of her life to research. She introduced the term global city. The daughter of a Dutch Nazi journalist, she grew up in Argentina and Italy, before studying in France.

 9 Ruud Lubbers

Ruud Lubbers
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Famous As: Economist, Politician, Diplomat, Entrepreneur, University teacher
Birthdate: May 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rotterdam

Dutch politician Ruud Lubbers scripted history as the longest-serving prime minister of his country, having held the office for over a decade. He had also been the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. A bright student of economics, he had initially aspired to be academician but took up construction management and eventually, politics.

 10 Jacobus Arminius

Jacobus Arminius
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Famous As: Theologian, University teacher
Birthdate: October 10, 1560
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oudewater
Died: October 19, 1609

Dutch theologian and professor Jacobus Arminius opposed the orthodox Calvinism of his time and introduced a new system, known as Arminianism, in response. He is remembered for his Opera theologica, published posthumously, and for paving the path for the growth of Methodism in the West.

 11 Jeroen Dijsselbloem

Jeroen Dijsselbloem
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Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: March 29, 1966
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Eindhoven, Netherlands

After graduating in agricultural economics, Jeroen Dijsselbloem began his career as an Agriculture & Environment policy officer at the European Parliament. The Labour Party politician later helmed the Dutch ministry of finance and is now the chairman of the Dutch Safety Board. He has also headed the Eurogroup as its president.

 12 Jan Tinbergen

Jan Tinbergen
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Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Economics
Birthdate: April 12, 1903
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: June 9, 1994

Best remembered for his econometric models, Jan Tinbergen won the first Nobel Prize for Economics along with Ragnar Frisch. Apart from working on subjects such as the business cycle theory and economic development, he had also been the economic advisor to the League of Nations.

 13 Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 28, 1951
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands

Apart from studying Chinese literature in the Netherlands, Dutch author Ian Buruma also studied Japanese cinema in Tokyo. His cultural experiences while working as a reviewer and documentary maker in Japan and then as a freelance author in other parts of Asia inspired him to write books such as Inventing Japan.

 14 Bernard Mandeville

Bernard Mandeville
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 15, 1670
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 21, 1733

Anglo-Dutch social philosopher Bernard Mandeville is best remembered for his satirical work The Fable of the Bees. A qualified physician just like his father, he later settled in London, where he gained fame with his writings. He believed that even the most negative actions are capable of producing positive outcomes.

 15 Peter Canisius

Peter Canisius
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Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: May 8, 1521
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nijmegen, Netherlands
Died: December 21, 1597
Jesuit scholar Peter Canisius strongly opposed Protestantism. His dedication to the cause of Roman Catholicism in Germany earned him the title of the Second Apostle of Germany. He established many Jesuit colleges in Germany and is remembered for his work Triple Catechism. He is also known as a saint in the Catholic Church.

 16 L. E. J. Brouwer

L. E. J. Brouwer
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: February 27, 1881
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Overschie, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: December 2, 1966

Best remembered for introducing the concepts of the fixed-point theorem and mathematical intuitionism, Dutch mathematician L. E. J. Brouwer was dragged into a controversy when he opposed David Hilbert’s formalism. He was also interested in philosophy and penned volumes such as Life, Art, and Mysticism.

 17 Bloeme Evers-Emden

Bloeme Evers-Emden
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Famous As: Teacher, Child psychologist
Birthdate: July 26, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: July 18, 2016

A Holocaust survivor, Bloeme Evers-Emden was deported to Auschwitz on the same train as Anne Frank’s family. She grew up to be a prominent child psychologist and lecturer and devoted herself to the research related to the “hidden children" of World War II. Her books include Borrowed Children.

 18 Tjalling C. Koopmans

Tjalling C. Koopmans
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 28, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Graveland, Netherlands
Died: February 26, 1985
Nobel Memorial Prize-winning Dutch-American economist Tjalling C. Koopmans is remembered for designing activity analysis, a method meant for distribution of resources for attaining an economic objective at the lowest cost, along with Soviet economist Leonid Kantorovich. His research extended to econometrics and linear programming. He also taught at Yale.

 19 Sunny Bergman

Sunny Bergman
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 19, 1972
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dutch documentary maker Sunny Bergman is best known for exploring controversial topics such as beauty standards, racism, and sexuality. Her works such as Sunny Side of Sex and Limited Tenability have challenged the mainstream ideals of life. She is also an activist, an author, and an actor.

 20 Jan Swammerdam

Jan Swammerdam
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Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: February 12, 1637
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: February 17, 1680

Dutch naturalist Jan Swammerdam was the first to detect red blood cells. Though a qualified doctor, he never practiced medicine, and took to research instead. Known for his research on anatomy, he also revolutionized the study of insects, proving that the egg, larva, pupa, and adult are all the same organism.

 21 Willem Drees

Willem Drees
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 5, 1886
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: May 14, 1988

Once the prime minister of the Netherlands, Willem Drees had also helmed the ministries of finance and colonial affairs. Initially a member of the Social Democratic Labour Party, he later led the Labour Party. His leadership saw his country join the NATO, the EEC, and the WEU.

 22 Joop den Uyl

Joop den Uyl
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: August 9, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hilversum, Netherlands
Died: December 24, 1987

A pragmatic Dutch political leader, Joop den Uyl studied economics and worked as a civil servant before serving as the country’s prime minister in the 1970s. The Labour Party member is remembered for his social-welfare programs. An anti-military campaigner, he reduced the Dutch military budget and supported international disarmament.

 23 Titus Brandsma

Titus Brandsma
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Birthdate: 0000 AD

A Carmelite friar and Catholic priest, Titus Brandsma initially taught theology in the Netherlands. A strong critic of Nazi ideals, he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where he was starved and beaten, and eventually poisoned to death. In 1985, he was declared “Blessed” by Pope John Paul II.

 24 Pope Adrian VI

Pope Adrian VI
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Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: March 2, 1459
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
Died: September 14, 1523

Sixteenth-century pope Adrian VI remains the only Dutch to have been a pope and was the last non-Italian pope till John Paul II’s election after over 400 years. He wished to reform the Church but wasn’t able to do much, as he was strongly opposed by many, including Italian cardinals.

 25 Johan Rudolf Thorbecke

Johan Rudolf Thorbecke
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Famous As: Statesman
Birthdate: January 14, 1798
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zwolle, Netherlands
Died: June 4, 1872

One of the most significant 19th-century politicians from the Netherlands, Johan Rudolf Thorbecke led the country as its prime minister. The Liberal Party politician began his career as a lecturer. As a prime minister, he encouraged free trade by abolishing excise duties and built many new canals.

 26 Gemma Frisius

Gemma Frisius
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: December 9, 1508
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dokkum, Netherlands
Died: May 25, 1555

Gemma Frisius introduced the triangulation method for map-making, that is still an integral part of surveys these days. He also created detailed globes and mathematical instruments and was a co-founder of the Netherlandish school of cartography. He also released the first published drawing of a pinhole camera obscura.

 27 Frieda Belinfante

Frieda Belinfante
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Famous As: Former Conductor, member of the Dutch resistance during World War II
Birthdate: May 10, 1904
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 5, 1995

 28 Wim Duisenberg

Wim Duisenberg
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Famous As: Politician and economist who served as President of the European Central Bank from 1 June 1998 until 31 October 2003
Birthdate: July 9, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Heerenveen, Netherlands
Died: July 31, 2005

Hailed as the Father of the Euro or Mr. Europe, Wim Duisenberg was the first president of the European Central Bank and managed the introduction of a common currency in Europe. He had also been the director of the Nederlandsche Bank and the Dutch minister of finance.

 29 Willem Frederik Hermans

Willem Frederik Hermans
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 1, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: April 27, 1995

Dutch Literature Prize-winning author Willem Frederik Hermans was one of his country’s most versatile writers and one of the most significant from the post-war era. His satirical works focused on social evils. An Untouched House and The Darkroom of Damocles remain 2 of his best-known works.

 30 Coosje van Bruggen

Coosje van Bruggen
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Famous As: Sculptor
Birthdate: June 6, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Groningen, Netherlands
Died: January 10, 2009

Dutch-American sculptor Coosje van Bruggen is best known for her collaborations with her sculptor husband, Claes Oldenburg. Their works include Shuttlecocks at the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park and Flashlight at the University of Nevada. She has also penned several books and been a sculpture critic at Yale University.

 31 Pieter van Musschenbroek

Pieter van Musschenbroek
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: March 14, 1692
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leiden, Netherlands
Died: September 19, 1761

Dutch physicist and mathematician Pieter van Musschenbroek is remembered for introducing the principle of the Leyden jar. He also taught at several universities. Born to an instrument maker, he initially studied medicine but later also focused on philosophy. He made pioneering contributions to tribology.

 32 Jan Huyghen van Linschoten

Jan Huyghen van Linschoten
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Famous As: Merchant
Birthdate: 1563 AD
Birthplace: Haarlem, Netherlands
Died: February 8, 1611

Dutch traveler and trader Jan Huyghen van Linschoten spent 6 years as the bookkeeper of the archbishop of Goa, which was under Portuguese rule then. He wrote important texts, detailing the life and culture of the East Indies, which later helped the Dutch and the English set up trade hubs in India.

 33 Herman Dooyeweerd

Herman Dooyeweerd
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Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: October 7, 1894
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: February 12, 1977

Apart from teaching law at Vrije Universiteit, Herman Dooyeweerd also made significant contributions to the domain of philosophy. He co-established the neo-Calvinistic movement known as Reformational philosophy and is best remembered for his suite of fifteen aspects. His works include his 4-volume magnum opus A New Critique of Theoretical Thought.

 34 Karel van Mander

Karel van Mander
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Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: April 30, 1548
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Meulebeke, Belgium
Died: September 2, 1606

Dutch painter and poet Karel van Mander was a significant part of the Mannerist movement. Best known for his Het Schilder-boeck, or The Book of Painters, a biographical work on artists and painters of northern Europe, he was patronized by the Haarlem city council.

 35 Isabelle de Charrière

Isabelle de Charrière
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 20, 1740
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
Died: December 27, 1805

Isabelle de Charrière was born to a Dutch noble family but later married her brother’s Swiss teacher and settled in Switzerland. A fine novelist, known for works such as Trois Femmes and Caliste; ou, lettres écrites de Lausanne, she critiqued social conventions and aristocratic privilege.

 36 Georg Eberhard Rumpf

Georg Eberhard Rumpf
1
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: November 1, 1627
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wölfersheim, Germany
Died: June 15, 1702

Best known for his 6-volume plant catalog Herbarium Amboinense, Georg Eberhard Rumpf came to be known as the Pliny of the Indies. His work primarily focused on the flora he found in Amboina, where he was sent by the Dutch East India Company. It was, unfortunately, published 39 years after his death.

 37 Arnold Geulincx

Arnold Geulincx
1
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 31, 1624
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium
Died: October 31, 1669

Arnold Geulincx was a Flemish philosopher, logician, and metaphysician. Over the years, Geulincx's works like De virtute and Methodus inveniendi argumenta have influenced other prominent personalities like Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett, who cites Arnold Geulincx as a key influence.

 38 Adriaan de Groot

Adriaan de Groot
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Famous As: Chess player, Psychologist
Birthdate: October 26, 1914
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Santpoort, Netherlands
Died: August 14, 2006

Apart from being a chess master, Adriaan de Groot was a renowned psychologist who is best remembered for his research on the cognitive processes found in the brains of chess players. He also represented the Netherlands in the Chess Olympiads twice and was part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

 39 Pieter Geyl

Pieter Geyl
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 15, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dordrecht, Netherlands
Died: December 31, 1966

Pieter Geyl was a Dutch historian best remembered for his studies in historiography and early modern Dutch history. He criticized the work of his contemporaries like Arnold J. Toynbee, with whom he also co-wrote a book titled Can We Know the Pattern of the Past? Geyl also served as a correspondent for the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

 40 Gisbertus Voetius

Gisbertus Voetius
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: March 3, 1589
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Heusden, Netherlands
Died: November 1, 1676

A Dutch theologian from the 17th century, Gisbertus Voetius was a Calvinist scholar. He promoted the Calvinist take on predestination, taught theology at Utrecht, and was also the youngest delegate of the Synod of Dort. Politica Ecclesiastica and Diatriba de Theologia remain two of his best-known works.

 41 Gerard van der Leeuw

Gerard van der Leeuw
1
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: March 18, 1890
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: November 18, 1950

Gerard van der Leeuw was a Dutch historian, ordained minister, philosopher of religion, and politician. He is best remembered for his influential work Religion in Essence and Manifestation, which was originally published in German and later translated to English in 1938. Gerard van der Leeuw also served as a professor at the University of Groningen.

 42 Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer

Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: August 21, 1801
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Netherlands
Died: May 19, 1876

Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer was a Dutch historian and politician who worked under William II of the Netherlands, serving as his secretary. He then went on to lead the Anti-Revolutionary Party and became known as an influential political writer. Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer also played an important role in the evangelical renewal movement, which was called Réveil in the Netherlands.

 43 Jan de Vries

Jan de Vries
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Famous As: Linguist, Philologists
Birthdate: February 11, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: July 23, 1964

Jan de Vries was a Dutch linguist, philologist, folklorist, religious studies scholar, educator, public official, writer, and editor. Jan De Vries, who specialized in Germanic studies, also studied Dutch, Pali, and Sanskrit at the University of Amsterdam. He was appointed Chair of Germanic philology at the University of Leiden where he played a key role as an administrator and lecturer. 

 44 Gerardus Vossius

Gerardus Vossius
1
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: February 29, 1577
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Heidelberg, Germany
Died: March 19, 1649

Gerardus Vossius was a Dutch theologian and scholar. His works as a professor of rhetoric were used as textbooks in many universities. Vossius had a lasting impact on Thomas Farnaby, whose work Latin Grammar was heavily influenced by Gerardus Vossius' works.

 45 Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde

Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1538 AD
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: December 15, 1598

Dutch poet Philips of Marnix is best remembered for his translation of the Psalms. He managed to anger the Roman Catholics with his works such as The Beehive of the Roman Catholic Church and thus spent a year as a prisoner. It’s believed that he wrote the Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus van Nassouwe.

 46 Simon Episcopius

Simon Episcopius
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: January 8, 1583
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: April 4, 1643

Simon Episcopius was a Dutch Remonstrant and theologian who played an important role at the Synod of Dort, an international Synod held by the Dutch Reformed Church in Dordrecht in 1618. A fierce supporter of the Arminian cause, Episcopius is credited with developing and systematizing the principles enunciated by Arminius.  

 47 Johannes Cocceius

Johannes Cocceius
1
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: August 9, 1603
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Germany
Died: November 4, 1669

A renowned 17th-century professor of biblical philology and theology, Johannes Cocceius was a prominent part of the Reformed Church. Best known for works such as Summa doctrinae de foedere et testamento Dei, he believed the relation between God and man was a covenant. He thus promoted the covenant, or federal, theology.

 48 François Hemsterhuis

François Hemsterhuis
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 27, 1721
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Groningen, Netherlands
Died: July 7, 1790

The Dutch Socrates, François Hemsterhuis is best remembered for his works on aesthetics and moral philosophy. One of the first Dutch authors to represent the Enlightenment, he was also one of the pioneers of Romanticism in the Netherlands. His best-known works, such as Sophyle and Alexis, were all authored in French.

 49 Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert

Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 1, 1522
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: October 29, 1590

Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, or Theodore Cornhert, was the man who introduced Humanism in Dutch literature. Known for works such as Liedekens, De wellevenskunste, and Comedie van Israël, he was an engraver in Haarlem and also worked for the city’s government. He also created the manifesto of William the Silent, Prince of Orange.

 50 Willem Visser 't Hooft

Willem Visser 't Hooft
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: September 20, 1900
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Haarlem, Netherlands
Died: July 4, 1985

Willem Visser 't Hooft served the World Council of Churches as its first secretary-general. The Dutch theologian and clergyman had also been the World Committee secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association. He emerged as a major figure of the ecumenical movement in the post-war era.