Universiteit Leiden

The University Charter
The University Charter Parchment, 6 January 1575

The Leiden archive has the Universitys original birth certificate, the Charter from 1575, Its first words are: ‘Philips by der Gracien Gods Coninck van Castillien (Philip by the Grace of God, King of Castile). It is fitting for Carel Stolker that the University has a sound legal basis and that the two founding documents are linked to the two great opponents from the time. Contrary to popular belief, the Charter is in the name of the Spanish king, Phillip II, not William of Orange. The statutes, however, are in the name of the father of the nation’.

Blaeu’s map of Beijing
Blaeu’s map of Beijing Map from Nieuwe Atlas oft Toneel des Aerdrijcx by Joan Blaeu, first half of the 17th century

The Arab world and China were regarded early on as important sources of knowledge and scholarship. In around 1650, the Leiden city council ordered this map of Beijing from the renowned publisher and cartographer Joan Blaeu. Since its very beginning, international relations have been important to the University. In recent years, University delegations led by the Rector or Vice-Rector have established links with universities in China, Japan, Indonesia, Morocco, Mexico, Brazil and other countries.

Rudolph Snellius
Rudolph Snellius Portrait of Rudolph Snellius by Willem Swanenburg, 1601

Some scholars master a wide range of disciplines. Rudolph Snellius was the first mathematician to become Rector of Leiden University, in 1607. Like Professor Hester Bijl, the new Rector from 8 February 2021, Snellius combined exact science with linguistics, in his case Hebrew. Bijl obtained a PhD in technical mathematics and also studied English language and literature.