From the treasury
Key to the East: Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s 'Itinerario'

For most of the 17th century the Dutch East India Company, or VOC, brought wealth and prestige to the Low Countries, ushering in what would be known as the Dutch Golden Age. Business was booming, profits were soaring, and the greatly expanded middle class flaunted its newly acquired wealth. It was an age of masterpiece paintings and scientific breakthroughs. What allowed the VOC, established in 1602, to amass such vast fortunes at breakneck speed? The answer lies with the book that has been dubbed ‘the key to the East’: Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s Itinerario.

Recently digitized
Bleuland and Louis Napoleon

It looks like an insignificant piece of paper, a letter of less than ten lines, nothing more than a thank you note for an appointment. However, sender and addressee are not the least in rank: Jan Bleuland, famous physician and twice rector of Utrecht University writing to the Officer of the Royal Household of king Louis Napoleon. Nowadays the later palace of the king in Utrecht houses the University Library City Centre. So this is a letter with some symbolic value, but also containing a number of other remarkable aspects – and written in a period in which a tragic event took place.