Anna Maria van Schurman

profielfoto Anna Maria van Schurman
Portrait of Anna Maria van Schurman by Jan Lievens, 1649

The Dutch humanist, theologian and poet Anna Maria van Schurman (1607-1678) was the first female student in the Netherlands (and possibly Europe). In 1636 she was admitted to the newly established Utrecht University.

From behind a curtain Van Schurman -  renamed by Dutch contemporaries the Dutch Minerva, the Star of Utrecht and the Tenth Muse- attended lectures on theology, literature and medicine. She was born in Cologne, but lived in a house behind the Utrecht Dom Tower for more than forty years. Like more women, Van Schurman got the opportunity to learn Latin. She used this skill for the publication of an argument in Latin about the suitability of the female spirit for science and literature.

Beste latinist in town

This publication was the reason her neighbor and professor of theology and Eastern languages ​​Gisbertus Voetius admitted Van Schurman to his lectures. This was very special, because at the time, women were not considered suitable for science. Moreover, Van Schurman, the best latinist in town, was invited to write a poem for the opening of the university. This brought her and Utrecht University fame at home and abroad. To fully devote herself to science and the arts, Van Schurman did not get married.

Want to know more about Anna Maria van Schurman? Cultural History student Samantha Sint Nicolaas investigated the correspondence network of this special woman. RTV Utrecht made a video special:

RTV Utrecht