Huygens, Constantijn

Huygens, Constantijn hoiˈgəns [key], 1596–1687, Dutch humanist and poet, b. The Hague; father of Christiaan Huygens. He was broadly educated in languages, law, and social protocol to follow a public career. From 1625 he was secretary to the stadtholder, or the chief executive of the province of The Hague. Huygens wrote verse in seven languages as well as in Dutch. His poems, descriptive and satirical, were highly esteemed; both the English and the French monarchs knighted him in recognition of his genius. His verse is graceful, highly ornamented, and sometimes moralistic. In his collection Daghwerck (1627–38) he wrote of his love for his wife. One of his last works, Cluyswerck (1683) is semiautobiographical. Huygens was also an accomplished musician and composer of many works for strings. The thousands of his letters that survive attest to his wide acquaintance among contemporary scholars, including Descartes, Donne, Corneille, and Jean Louis Guez de Balzac.

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