Children of a Farmer
Dirck Jansz is the author of one of the oldest Dutch diaries in existence. He was born in 1578 or 1579 and, like his father, was a farmer in the hamlet of St Annaparochie in Friesland. Dirck was relatively well-to-do. He rented 30 hectares and hired farm hands and maids to run the farm. He was elected as a representative for the village when a conflict arose about the rights of tenants. Since Dirck could read and write, he must have had several years’ schooling. He owned no fewer than 40 books, according to a list in his diary. They were mostly popular works such as fables, romances and comedies. He also owned a Bible, a sign that he was an adherent of the Reformation. A collection of Beggar’s songs, printed in the early stage of the Revolt against Spain, reveals his political sympathies. In his notations, however, traces of the Catholic faith can be found. He prayed for the souls of the dead and used a calendar of saints.
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