Leiden University

Discover the notable alumni of Leiden University. The list includes people like William the Silent, Paul Verhoeven, Edsger W. Dijkstra, Thomas Browne & John Stuart, 3rd earl of Bute. This list of notable alumni is loosely sorted by popularity and has people from different domains of life, such as intellectuals & academics, writers, scientists, miscellaneous and leaders etc.
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 1 
René Déscartes
(French Philosopher, Mathematician and Inventor of ‘Analytic Geometry’)
René Déscartes
24
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Descartes, France
Died: February 11, 1650
René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, laid down the idea of rationalism, later followed by Spinoza and Leibniz. Descartes also contributed to the field of analytical geometry and led to the Cartesian coordinate system being named after him. His Meditations on First Philosophy is still taught at many universities.
 2 
Rembrandt
(One of the Greatest Visual Artists in the History of Art)
Rembrandt
14
Birthdate: July 15, 1606
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Leiden, Netherlands
Died: October 4, 1669

Rembrandt was a Dutch printmaker, painter, and draughtsman. A master in three major art media, Rembrandt is widely considered the most important visual artist in Dutch art history and one of the greatest of all time. He is also considered the greatest etcher in the history of printmaking. His life and work inspired several films, including the 1936 movie Rembrandt.

 3 
Paul Verhoeven
(Director)
Paul Verhoeven
1
Birthdate: July 18, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Paul Verhoeven is a Dutch screenwriter and director whose illustrious career has spanned more than 60 years. Over the years, Verhoeven has won prestigious awards such as a Golden Globe Award, César Award, and Saturn Award. Paul Verhoeven is regarded as one of the most popular filmmakers in the Netherlands.   

 4 
King Willem-Alexander
(King of the Netherlands )
King Willem-Alexander
8
Birthdate: April 27, 1967
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands
Willem-Alexander, son of Beatrix of the Netherlands and German-born diplomat Claus van Amsberg, took over as the king of the Netherlands after his mother’s abdication. He has served the Royal Netherlands Navy and been a member of the International Olympic Committee. His interests include sports and water management.
 5 
Beatrix of the Netherlands
(Former Queen of the Netherlands (1980 - 2013))
Beatrix of the Netherlands
6
Birthdate: January 31, 1938
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Soestdijk Palace, Baarn, Netherlands

Beatrix of the Netherlands reigned as Queen of the Netherlands for 33 years. At the time of her abdication in favor of her son, she was the oldest-reigning monarch in the history of the monarchy of the Netherlands. As the queen, Beatrix had a huge impact on the Dutch people and continues to serve as a patron of several organizations.

 6 
Hendrik Lorentz
(Dutch Physicist and Winner of the 1902 Nobel Prize in Physics)
Hendrik Lorentz
2
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: July 18, 1853
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Arnhem, Netherlands
Died: February 4, 1928

Nobel Prize-winning Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz, a major figure of the Second Dutch Golden Age, is remembered for his discovery of the Zeeman effect, along with his former student Pieter Zeeman, who shared the Nobel with Lorentz. His research on electromagnetic radiation prepared ground for Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

 7 
Juliana of the Netherlands
(Queen of the Netherlands from 1948 to 1980)
Juliana of the Netherlands
1
Birthdate: April 30, 1909
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: March 20, 2004

Juliana of the Netherlands was the Queen of the Netherlands from 1948 to 1980, during which she remained a popular member of the Dutch royal family. Her reign witnessed the decolonization and independence of Suriname and the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia). Several important places, including the Princess Juliana International Airport, are named after her.

 8 
Mark Rutte
(Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 2010)
Mark Rutte
4
Listed In: Leaders
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. 

 9 
Thomas Browne
(English Polymath and Author Best Known for His Books 'Religio Medici' and 'Urne-Burial')
Thomas Browne
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: October 19, 1605
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 19, 1682

Thomas Browne was an English author and polymath who wrote several books on varied fields, such as religion, medicine, science, and the esoteric. Browne incorporated different styles of writing depending upon the genre he was working on. Over the years, his writing has influenced several other writers like Herman Melville. Browne's works have been admired by personalities like William Osler.

 10 
Stefanie Joosten
(Model)
Stefanie Joosten
0
Birthdate: August 5, 1988
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Roermond, Netherlands

Dutch-born Stefanie Joosten initially studied Japanese language and culture at Leiden. Her interest later took her to Japan, where she began modeling. She voiced the character Quiet in a Metal Gear game in both its English and Japanese versions. She has also appeared in TV series, short films, and feature films.

 11 
Edsger W. Dijkstra
(Dutch Mathematician and Computer Scientist Best Known for His Shortest-Path Algorithm in Graph Theory)
Edsger W. Dijkstra
2
Listed In: Engineers
Birthdate: May 11, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: August 6, 2002

A pioneering computer scientist from the Netherlands, Edsger W. Dijkstra had initially studied theoretical physics, before focusing on computers. He developed the domain of structured programming and also won honors such as the Turing Award. He died at 72, after a long struggle with cancer.

 12 
Charles Adams
(Son of the Second United States President, John Adams)
Charles Adams
3
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: May 29, 1770
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: United States
Died: November 30, 1800
 13 
Gerard Kuiper
(Dutch Astronomer, Planetary Scientist, Selenographer, Author and Professor)
Gerard Kuiper
1
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: December 7, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tuitjenhorn, Netherlands
Died: December 23, 1973

Gerard Kuiper was blessed with an unusually sharp eyesight and could see stars clearly with the naked eye. The Dutch-born scientist later moved to the U.S., where he established the University of Arizona’s LPL. He also initiated research on the belt of comets surrounding the Sun, known as the Kuiper belt.

 14 
Hugo Grotius
(Dutch Lawyer, Philosopher and Diplomat Known for His Significant Philosophical Contributions to the Field of International Law)
Hugo Grotius
0
Listed In: Lawyers & Judges
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.

 15 
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands
(Aristocrat)
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands
1
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: January 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
 16 
Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff
(Dutch Physical Chemist Known for Work on Rates of Chemical Reaction, Chemical Equilibrium, and Osmotic Pressure)
Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff
0
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: August 30, 1852
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 1, 1911

Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff was a Dutch physical chemist best remembered for winning the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Van 't Hoff's work helped found the modern theory of chemical thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, and chemical affinity. A highly popular theoretical chemist, Van 't Hoff is also counted among the founders of physical chemistry.

 17 
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
(Critic of Islam and Advocate of Women Rights)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
12
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: November 13, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Somalia

Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, and scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the founder of an organization for the defense of women's rights, the AHA Foundation. She actively opposes forced marriage, honor violence, and child marriage. A former Muslim, she now identifies as an atheist and is a vocal critic of Islam. She is a recipient of the Lantos Human Rights Prize.

 18 
Thierry Baudet
(Politician)
Thierry Baudet
1
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.
 19 
Jan Ingenhousz
(Physiologist, Biologist and Chemist.)
Jan Ingenhousz
0
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: December 8, 1730
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Breda, Netherlands
Died: September 7, 1799

The man who discovered photosynthesis, Jan Ingenhousz was born in the Netherlands but later settled in England. He is also remembered for his pioneering research on thermal conduction and the prevention of smallpox and even successfully inoculated the Habsburg family against smallpox. He was also Maria Theresa’s personal doctor.

 20 
Abraham Kuyper
(Prime Minister of the Netherlands (1901 - 1905))
Abraham Kuyper
0
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: October 29, 1837
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Maassluis, Netherlands
Died: November 8, 1920

After studying subjects such as literature and theology, Abraham Kuyper became a pastor and founded the Calvinist paper De Standaard. He later established the Anti-Revolutionary Party and also served the Netherlands as prime minister. He was also the founder of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.

 21 
John Quincy Adams
(6th President of United States (1825 - 1829))
John Quincy Adams
75
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: July 11, 1767
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Braintree, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 23, 1848

The sixth president of the United States of America John Quincy Adams played a key role in shaping America during its formative years. He helped develop the Monroe Doctrine, which eventually became a vital tenet of the U.S. foreign policy. He is also widely regarded as one of the greatest secretaries of state and diplomats in the American history.

 22 
Baron d'Holbach
(Author)
Baron d'Holbach
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: December 8, 1723
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edesheim, Germany
Died: January 21, 1789
 23 
John Stuart, 3rd earl of Bute
(Prime Minister)
John Stuart, 3rd earl of Bute
1
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: May 25, 1713
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Parliament Square, Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: March 10, 1792
 24 
Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands
(Third and youngest son of the former Dutch queen, Beatrix, and her husband, Claus von Amsberg)
Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: October 11, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
 25 
Martinus Beijerinck
(Microbiologist)
Martinus Beijerinck
0
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: March 16, 1851
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 1, 1931
 26 
Nicolas Steno
(Danish Scientist Who Was a Pioneer in Both Anatomy and Geology)
Nicolas Steno
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: January 1, 1638
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: November 25, 1686

Nicolas Steno was a 17th-century Danish scientist considered a pioneer in both anatomy and geology. He received training in the classical texts on science and went on to become an expert on fossils and rock formation. Today, he is considered one of the founders of modern stratigraphy and modern geology. He became a Catholic bishop in his later years.  

 27 
Simon Stevin
(Flemish Mathematician, Scientist and Music Theorist)
Simon Stevin
0
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: 1548 AD
Birthplace: Bruges, Belgium
Died: 1620 AD

Simon Stevin was a Flemish physicist, mathematician, and military engineer. He is best remembered for his contributions to various fields of science and engineering. Simon Stevin is also credited with several discoveries and inventions. He pioneered the practical application of surveying and hydraulic engineering. 

 28 
Bram van der Stok
(Dutch Aviator)
Bram van der Stok
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: October 13, 1915
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Plaju, Dutch East Indies
Died: February 8, 1993
 29 
Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond
(Politician)
Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond
0
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: February 22, 1735
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Died: December 29, 1806
 30 
Sutan Sjahrir
(The First Prime Minister of Indonesia)
Sutan Sjahrir
1
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: March 5, 1909
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Padang Panjang City, Indonesia
Died: April 9, 1966

Indonesian politician Sutan Sjahrir was also the country’s 1st prime minister. He was a key figure in the Indonesian struggle for independence and later supported the Western constitutional democracy. He had also served as the foreign minister and interior minister of Indonesia. He was named a National Hero of Indonesia.

 31 
Daniel De Leon
(Socialist)
Daniel De Leon
1
Birthdate: December 14, 1852
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Curaçao
Died: May 11, 1914
 32 
Charles Townshend
(Politician)
Charles Townshend
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: August 29, 1725
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England
Died: September 4, 1767
 33 
Eva Jinek
(Journalist)
Eva Jinek
2
Birthdate: July 13, 1978
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
 34 
Peter Simon Pallas
(German Naturalist Who Explored the Geology of Russia)
Peter Simon Pallas
1
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: September 22, 1741
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 8, 1811

German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas was born to a professor of surgery and had, by age 15, formulated classifications of several animal groups. He chiefly worked in and around Russia, and is remembered for his 3-volume geological study, Journey Through Various Provinces of the Russian Empire.

 35 
Martinus Theunis Steyn
(Former 6th State President of the Orange Free State (1896 - 1902))
Martinus Theunis Steyn
0
Listed In: Lawyers & Judges
Birthdate: October 2, 1857
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Winburg, South Africa
Died: November 28, 1916

Marthinus Theunis Steyn was a South African lawyer, politician, and statesman. As a young man, he studied law at the Inner Temple in London and returned home to set up his practice. He became the sixth and last president of the independent republic the Orange Free State in 1896, a position he held till 1902.  

 36 
Angelus Silesius
(German Catholic Priest, Physician, Mystic and Religious Poet)
Angelus Silesius
1
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: December 25, 1624
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: July 9, 1677
Born in Silesia, 17th-century mystic and religious poet Johannes Scheffler, better known as Angelus Silesius, is best remembered as the author of The Cherubic Wanderer. He had initially been the court physician of the duke of Oels but later became a Roman Catholic priest. He urged German Protestants to adopt Catholicism.
 37 
Maurice, Prince of Orange
(Prince of Orange (1618 - 1625))
Maurice, Prince of Orange
2
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: November 14, 1567
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dillenburg, Germany
Died: April 23, 1625

Maurice, Prince of Orange is remembered for transforming the Dutch army with his modern military strategy and engineering. The second son of William I the Silent, he was part of the Eighty Years’ War with Spain. He passed away shortly before the siege of Breda was completed.

 38 
Herman Boerhaave
(Botanist, Physician)
Herman Boerhaave
0
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: December 31, 1668
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Voorhout, Netherlands
Died: September 23, 1738
 39 
Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje
(Professor)
Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: February 8, 1857
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oosterhout, Netherlands
Died: June 26, 1936
 40 
Jan Swammerdam
(Dutch Biologist and Microscopist Who Was the First to Observe and Describe 'Red Blood Cells')
Jan Swammerdam
0
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.

 41 
Evelyn Wever-Croes
(Politician)
Evelyn Wever-Croes
0
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: December 5, 1966
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Leiden, Netherlands
 42 
Bernard Mandeville
(Dutch Philosopher, Political Economist and Satirist)
Bernard Mandeville
1
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.

 43 
Frits Bolkestein
(Politician)
Frits Bolkestein
0
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: April 4, 1933
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Former EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, Frits Bolkestein also led the Dutch political party People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD. His job at the Shell Group took him to places such as Honduras, France, and Indonesia. He has also penned countless books, mostly related to politics.

 44 
Ian Buruma
(Dutch Writer and Editor)
Ian Buruma
1
Listed In: Writers
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.

 45 
Nehemiah Grew
(British Botanist and Physiologist Known for His Careful and Novel Observations on Plant Anatomy)
Nehemiah Grew
0
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: September 26, 1641
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mancetter Parish, Warwickshire, England
Died: March 25, 1712

English botanist Nehemiah Grew is considered a pioneer of plant anatomy, along with Italian biologist and physician Marcello Malpighi. Initially a physician, he later penned iconic books on botany, such as The Anatomy of Plants. He also made pioneering studies in finger-print patterns. A genus of trees has been named after him.

 46 
Sophie in 't Veld
(Politician)
Sophie in 't Veld
0
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: September 13, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vollenhove, Netherlands
 47 
Johan Rudolf Thorbecke
(Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands (1871 – 1872, 1862 - 1866, 1849 - 1853))
Johan Rudolf Thorbecke
0
Listed In: Leaders
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.

 48 
Pieter van Musschenbroek
(Dutch Mathematician and Physicist Who Discovered the Principle of the 'Leyden Jar')
Pieter van Musschenbroek
0
Listed In: Scientists
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.

 49 
Ewald Georg von Kleist
(German Inventor, Clergy and Lawyer Who Discovered (1745) the 'Leyden Jar')
Ewald Georg von Kleist
0
Birthdate: June 10, 1700
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wicewo, Poland
Died: December 10, 1748

Ewald Georg von Kleist was an 18th-century German jurist and physicist. He studied jurisprudence at the University of Leipzig and the University of Leyden. He served as the dean of the cathedral at Kamień Pomorski in the Kingdom of Prussia for over two decades, after which he was appointed the president of the royal court of justice in Koszalin.  

 50 
Niels Kaj Jerne
(Danish Immunologist Known for the Discovery of the Principle for Production of Monoclonal Antibodies)
Niels Kaj Jerne
0
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: December 23, 1911
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 7, 1994

Niels Kaj Jerne was a Danish immunologist best remembered for winning the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine alongside César Milstein and Georges J. F. Köhler. Jerne, who made important contributions to the fields of Immunology and Microbiology, was also honored with the Marcel Benoist Prize and Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize in 1978 and 1982 respectively.