The Fagels and their library

The Fagel Collection in Trinity College Dublin is the family library of an important political dynasty in the early modern Netherlands. The collection was started by François Fagel the Eldest (1585-1644), who was the father of the most famous Fagel politician of all, Gaspar Fagel (1634-1688). Gaspar was Greffier SG from 1670-72 and held the prestigious position of Grand Pensionary of Holland from 1672-1688.

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Gaspar’s brother, Hendrik Fagel the Eldest (1617-1690) and two of his nephews, François Fagel the Elder (1659-1746) and Hendrik Fagel Hz (1669-1728), were also involved in the administration of the States General and, in turn, members of succeeding generations played their part in the political life of the Dutch Republic until the French invasion of the Netherlands in 1794 forced the exile of Hendrik Fagel the Younger (1765-1838). Their family library thus mirrors the preoccupations of the political elite during a time of great political change.

Our colleagues introduce the range of subjects covered by this fascinating collection:

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Many of these books of course reflected the tastes of individual family members. And, like many other family libraries, the contents changed over time: there were many new additions but also some subtractions as parts of the family library were sold off at different times: for example, a large part of the library of the Grand Pensionary was sold in 1689. However, the core collection still retains an exciting range of pamphlets which reflect Gaspar Fagel’s central political concerns. Find out more in the following video.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Finally, the Fagels’ wonderful map collection reflects the rise of the Dutch Republic and the range of influence of the Dutch East India Company. Our colleague, Micheál Ó Siochrú, Professor in Modern History, TCD, explains their range and significance in this video.

Family libraries are composite libraries, developed over time by different generations. As the example of the Fagel Collection in Trinity College Dublin demonstrates, some parts of the collection were sold at different times.

  • Why do you think a family might decide to sell part of their family collection?

Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, Dublin.

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The History of the Book in the Early Modern Period: 1450 to 1800

Trinity College Dublin

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