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Dousa, Janus

DOUSA, JANUS [Jan van der Does], lord of Noordwyck (1545-1604), Dutch statesman, historian, poet and philologist, and the heroic defender of Leiden, was born at Noordwyck, in the province of Holland, on the 6th of December 1545. He began his studies at Lier in Brabant, became a pupil of Henry Junius at Delft in 1560, and then passed on in succession to Louvain, Douai and Paris. Here he studied Greek under Pierre Dorat, professor at the Collège Royal, and became acquainted with the chancellor L'Hôpital, Turnebus, Ronsard and other eminent men. On his return in 1565 he married Elizabeth van Zuylen. His name stands in the list of nobles who in that year formed a league against Philip II. of Spain, but he does not appear to have taken any active part in public affairs till 1572, when he was sent as a member of an embassy to England. He was not, however, at first very eager to commit himself to the fortunes of William the Silent, prince of Orange, but having once chosen his side, he threw himself heart and soul into the struggle for freedom from the Spanish yoke. Fortunately for Leiden he was residing in the town at the time of the famous siege. He held no post in the government, but in the hour of need he, though not trained to arms, took the command of a company of troops. His fearlessness and unshaken resolution had no small influence in encouraging the regents and the citizens to prolong the defence. On the foundation of the university of Leiden by William the Silent, Dousa was appointed first curator, and he held this office for nearly thirty years. Through his friendships with foreign scholars he drew to Leiden many illustrious teachers and professors. After the assassination of the prince of Orange in 1584, Dousa undertook a private journey to England to try and persuade Queen Elizabeth to support the cause of the states, and in 1585 he went at the head of a formal embassy for the same purpose. About the same time he was appointed keeper of the archives of Holland (registermeester van Holland), and the opportunities thus afforded him of historical research he turned to good account. He had three sons and five daughters. All his sons acquired a reputation for learning, but two of them died before their father. Dousa was author of several volumes of Latin verse and of philological commentaries on Horace, Plautus, Catullus and other Latin poets. His principal work is the Annals of Holland, which first appeared in a metrical form in 1599, and was published in prose under the title of Bataviae Hollandiaeque annales in 1601. Dousa also took part as editor or contributor in various other publications. He died at Noordwyck on the 8th of October 1604, and was interred at the Hague; but no monument was erected to his memory till 1792, when one of his descendants placed a tomb to his honour in the church of Noordwyck. There are good portraits of the Great Dousa, as he is often called, by Visscher and Houbraken.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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