In 1632, the polymath Gerardus Vossius became the first professor at the newly founded Athenaeum Illustre, the precursor of the current University of Amsterdam. Besides being a historian, he was a literary scholar, grammarian, rhetorician and theologian. In his work on chronology he combined astronomical with historical evidence. He also wrote the first overview of the history and theory of classical literature. Four of his children became established scholars as well, but only Isaac survived his father to become one of the most famous intellectuals of Europe. A Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Vossius was prolific as a philologist, geographer but also published on tidal motions, on optics, on painting, on China and on the age of the world. He argued that the earth had to be much older than could be derived from the Bible.
The internationally well connected father and son Vossius crossed disciplines, mixed methods and engaged with the past to make sense of the present. Their multi-talented Amsterdam-based family reflects the Center’s central theme to arrive at a global, post-disciplinary history of knowledge.