Johan Isaaksz Pontanus (21 January 1571–7 October 1639) was a
Pontanus was the son of Margaretha van Delen and Isaac Pietersz, the
Dutch consul to
Denmark stationed in Helsingør. The painter Pieter
Isaacsz (1568–1625) was his older brother. In 1578 his family
returned to the Netherlands and Pontanus grew up in Amsterdam. In
1589 he enrolled as a medical student at the University of Franeker
and in 1592 at
Leiden University as "Joannes Hellespontius Danus",
predating the apparent contraction "Pontanus" (he was said to be
born at sea near
Helsingør in the Danish Hellespont, the
Øresund). The next year he defended his Dissertatio de rationalis
animas facilitate and traveled to Rome, visiting German scholars on
his return trip. Subsequently, Pontanus visited
Denmark where his
parents had returned and became acquainted with
Tycho Brahe and Arild
Huitfeldt. 1596 he spent mostly in England, visiting Canterbury,
Oxford and Stanford. The following years he traveled to German, Swiss
and French cities, in part escorting three young family members of
In 1604 he was appointed professor at the Gelderse Academie in
Harderwijk, where he remained teaching the rest of his life. He is
best known for writing histories of places and countries. His history
Amsterdam (1611) was considered the first of this city. It was
controversial enough to be blacklisted by the Roman church. In 1618
he was asked to write a history of Denmark, for which he was appointed
as the Royal Danish official historian; he continued writing this work
until his death but only managed to publish the first part in 1631.
In 1621 he was asked to write a history of
Guelders which he based
largely on work of Paullus Merula en Johannes Luntius and finished in
Pontanus married Anneken van den Herde (or Heerde, Heede) in June
1606. They had at least four children. He died in
Harderwijk in 1639,
nine years before the academy was officially declared the University
Analectorum libri III (Rostock, 1599, in-4°).
Historia urbis et rerum Amstelodamensium (Amsterdam, 1611, in-fol.).
Originum Francicarum libri VI (Harderwijk, 1616, in-4°).
De Pygmæis (Harderwyck,1629, in-4°).
Rerum Danicarum historia (Amsterdam, 1631, in-fol.): first volume
only; the 2nd volume was published in Flensburg (1737, in-fol.).
Poematum libri VI (Amsterdam, 1631).
Discussiones historicae (Harderwijk, 1637, in-8°)
Historia geldrica (Harderwijk, 1639).
Notes and references
^ In Latin Johannes Isacius Pontanus, in Danish Johan Isaksen
^ a b c d e f g h S.P. Haak, Pontanus, Johannes Isacius of Johan
Isaakszoon in Nieuw Nederlandsch biografisch woordenboek, Vol 1 (1911)
^ a b
Pieter Isaacsz at the RKD
^ a b H.F. Rørdam, Pontanus, Johan Isaksen in the Dansk biografisk
Lexikon, 1887-1905 (in Danish)
The Correspondence of
Johannes Isacius Pontanus
Johannes Isacius Pontanus in EMLO
ISNI: 0000 0001 2278 5636
BNF: cb123875836 (data)