Petrus Johannes Blok

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Petrus Johannes Blok
Painting by Therese Schwartze PJBlok.jpg
Petrus Johannes Blok
Painting by Thérèse Schwartze

Petrus Johannes Blok (10 January 1855, in Den Helder – 24 October 1929, in Leiden) was a Dutch historian.

Den Helder Municipality in North Holland, Netherlands

Den Helder is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Den Helder occupies the northernmost point of the North Holland peninsula. It is home to the country's main naval base. From here the Royal TESO ferryboat service operates the transportation link between Den Helder and the nearby Dutch Wadden island of Texel to the north.

Leiden City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Leiden is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. The municipality of Leiden had a population of 123,856 in August 2017, but the city forms one densely connected agglomeration with its suburbs Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude with 206,647 inhabitants. The Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) further includes Katwijk in the agglomeration which makes the total population of the Leiden urban agglomeration 270,879, and in the larger Leiden urban area also Teylingen, Noordwijk, and Noordwijkerhout are included with in total 348,868 inhabitants. Leiden is located on the Oude Rijn, at a distance of some 20 kilometres from The Hague to its south and some 40 km (25 mi) from Amsterdam to its north. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Including three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.



Born in Den Helder, Blok studied at the Latin School of Alkmaar and read classics at Leiden University, receiving his doctorate for a study of Sextus Pompeius. After this, he got a position at the Leiden Latin School, and published two books on the city's Medieval and Burgundian history.

Latin school

The Latin school was the grammar school of 14th- to 19th-century Europe, though the latter term was much more common in England. Emphasis was placed, as the name indicates, on learning to use Latin. The education given at Latin schools gave great emphasis to the complicated grammar of the Latin language, initially in its Medieval Latin form. Grammar was the most basic part of the trivium and the Liberal arts — in artistic personifications Grammar's attribute was the birch rod. Latin school prepared students for university, as well as enabling those of middle class status to rise above their station. It was therefore not unusual for children of commoners to attend Latin schools, especially if they were expected to pursue a career within the church. Although Latin schools existed in many parts of Europe in the 14th century and were more open to the laity, prior to that the Church allowed for Latin schools for the sole purpose of training those who would one day become clergymen. Latin schools began to develop to reflect Renaissance humanism around the 1450s. In some countries, but not England, they later lost their popularity as universities and some Catholic orders began to prefer the vernacular.

Alkmaar City and municipality in North Holland, Netherlands

Alkmaar[ˈɑl(ə)kmaːr](listen) is a city and municipality in the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland. Alkmaar is well known for its traditional cheese market. For tourists, it is a popular cultural destination.

Classics Study of the culture of (mainly) Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity. It encompasses the study of the Greco-Roman world, particularly of its languages and literature but also of Greco-Roman philosophy, history, and archaeology. Traditionally in the West, the study of the Greek and Roman classics was considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities and a fundamental element of a rounded education. The study of classics has therefore traditionally been a cornerstone of a typical elite education.

In 1884, he was made professor of Dutch History at the University of Groningen, where he supervised the publication of a series of historical documents from the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. He was in the habit of traveling much to search for written documents, which brought him as far as Rome: a very long trip back then. Among his students was Pieter Jelles Troelstra.

Professor academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries

Professor is an academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of the highest rank.

History of the Netherlands Dutch history

The History of the Netherlands is the history of seafaring people thriving on a lowland river delta on the North Sea in northwestern Europe. Records begin with the four centuries during which the region formed a militarised border zone of the Roman Empire. This came under increasing pressure from Germanic peoples moving westwards. As Roman power collapsed and the Middle Ages began, three dominant Germanic peoples coalesced in the area, Frisians in the north and coastal areas, Low Saxons in the northeast, and the Franks in the south.

University of Groningen university in the Netherlands

The University of Groningen is a public research university in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands. The university was founded in 1614. Since its founding more than 200,000 students have graduated.

In 1892, Blok was elected a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. [1] In 1894, he succeeded Robert Fruin as professor of Dutch History in Leiden.

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Society of scientists and institute

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences is an organization dedicated to the advancement of science and literature in the Netherlands. The academy is housed in the Trippenhuis in Amsterdam.

Robert Fruin Dutch historian

Robert Jacobus Fruin was a Dutch historian. A follower of Leopold von Ranke, he introduced the scientific study of history in the Netherlands when he was professor of Dutch national history at Leiden University.


Blok believed that it was the task of a historian to stress a country's national past and contribute to a sense of unity. It does not come as a surprise that he was one of the editors of the Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek ("New Dutch Biographical Dictionary"). His books are biographical in nature and are about Dutch heroes: Oranje (1919–1920), Frederik Hendrik (1924), and De Ruyter (1928).

<i>Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek</i> Dutch biographical reference work

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William the Silent founder of the Dutch Republic, stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, leader of the Dutch Revolt

William I, Prince of Orange, also known as William the Silent or William the Taciturn, or more commonly known as William of Orange, was the main leader of the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs that set off the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1581. He was born in the House of Nassau as Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau and the ancestor of the monarchy of the Netherlands. Within the Netherlands he is also known as Father of the Fatherland.

Michiel de Ruyter Dutch admiral

Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter was a Dutch admiral. He was one of the most skilled admirals in history, most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He fought the English and French and scored several major victories against them, the best known probably being the Raid on the Medway. The pious De Ruyter was very much loved by his sailors and soldiers; from them his most significant nickname derived: Bestevaêr

His work, the Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche volk, consists of eight volumes, published between 1892 and 1907. It is really a history of a nation – with its arts, economy, religions, laws, and daily life – and not the story of a state. It is a book about people, but not a real social history; Blok's magnum opus has unfavorably been compared to Pirenne's famous Histoire de Belgique (1909–1932). (The English translation, by Ruth Putnam and Oscar A. Bierstadt, of Blok's book, History of the people of the Netherlands, is abridged and has five volumes.)

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His ideas about history as an instrument of nation building have for a long time been out of fashion among academicians, but returned very much to the center of the Dutch public debate in 2006, when politician Jan Marijnissen argued for the creation of a Museum of National History. His proposal was accepted in 2008, but ultimately the museum didn't materialize.

Blok is the spiritual father of the Dutch Institute in the Villa Borghese gardens, which he founded in 1904.

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  1. "Petrus Johannes Blok (1855 - 1929)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 22 May 2016.