The Banished Scholar: Beverland, Sex, and Liberty in the Seventeenth-Century Low Countries


  • Karen Hollewand



Hadriaan Beverland, humanism, original sin, history of sexuality, lust, sexual liberty


Scholar Hadriaan Beverland was banished from Holland in 1679. Why was this humanist exiled from one of the most tolerant parts of Europe in the seventeenth century? This article argues that it was Beverland’s singular focus on sexual lust that got him into such great trouble. In his studies, he highlighted the importance of sex in human nature, history, and his own society. Dutch theologians disliked his theology, exegesis, and his use of erudition to mock their authority. His humanist colleagues did not support him either, since Beverland threatened the basis of the humanist enterprise by drawing attention to the sexual side of the classical world. And Dutch magistrates were happy to convict the young scholar, because he had insolently accused them of hypocrisy. By restricting sex to marriage, in compliance with Reformed doctrine, secular authorities upheld a sexual morality that was unattainable, Beverland argued, and he proposed honest discussion of the problem of sex. This article shows that by exposing the gap between principle and practice, Beverland highlighted the hypocrisy of a deeply conflicted elite at a precarious time, since the Dutch Golden Age had started disintegrating by the late-seventeenth century. Positioning Beverland’s fate in this context of change, his story and scholarship provide a fresh perspective on the intellectual environment of the Low Countries in this period.


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How to Cite

Hollewand, K. (2017). The Banished Scholar: Beverland, Sex, and Liberty in the Seventeenth-Century Low Countries. Early Modern Low Countries, 1(2), 273–296.