Pieter de Graeff

Pieter de Graeff (15 August 1638 – 3 June 1707), was a member of the De Graeff-family from the Dutch Golden Age. He was an Amsterdam Regent during the late 1660s and the early 1670s, and held the titles as Lord of the semi-sovereign Fief Zuid-Polsbroek and 19.th Lord of the Free and high Fief Ilpendam and Purmerland. Pieter de Graeff was a member of a family of regents who belonged to the republican political movement also referred to as the ‘state oriented’, as opposed to the Royalists.[1]

Pieter de Graeff
President of the Dutch East Indies Company
In office
Preceded byCornelis de Graeff
Personal details
Political partyStates faction
Spouse(s)Jacoba Bicker van Swieten
RelationsCornelis de Graeff (father)
Catharina Hooft (mother)
Andries de Graeff (uncle)
Johan de Witt (cousin)
ChildrenJohan and Cornelis
ResidenceCastle Ilpenstein and a Cityhouse at Herengracht 573
OccupationRegent, Landlord


Family De Graeff

Pieter was born in Amsterdam, the son of Cornelis de Graeff and Catharina Hooft, and the older brother of Jacob de Graeff.[2]

Both, Pieters father Cornelis and his uncle Andries de Graeff, were very critical of the Orange family's influence. Together with the Republican political leader Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt, the De Graeff-family strived for the abolition of stadtholdership. They desired the full sovereignty of the individual regions in a form in which the Republic of the United Seven Netherlands was not ruled by a single person. Instead of a sovereign (or stadtholder) the political and military power was lodged with the States General and with the regents of the cities in Holland.[1]

During the two decades the De Graeff family had a leading role in the Amsterdam administration, the city was at the peak of its political power. This period was also referred to by Republicans as the ‘Ware Vrijheid’ (True Freedom). It was the First Stadtholderless Period which lasted from 1650 to 1672. During these twenty years, the regents from Holland and in particular those of Amsterdam, controlled the republic. The city was flush with self-confidence and liked to compare itself to the famous Republic of Rome. Even without a stadtholder, things seemed to be going well for the Republic and its regents both politically and economically.[1]

Early years

In 1655 Pieter went together with Joan Huydecoper I and his eldest son Joan on a diplomatic mission to the Prince-elector Frederick William of Brandenburg, to look for support against the war with Sweden.[2]

During the summers the family spent a lot of their time at the Palace Soestdijk, and the brothers De Graeff played with the young William III of Orange – who later became King of England, Scotland and Ireland and stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands – at the lake and woods at Soestdijk.[3]

After Pieter did a Grand Tour through France and England, he married his niece Jacoba Bicker, like himself a cousin of the brothers Cornelis and Johan de Witt.[2] Joost van den Vondel wrote a poem to Pieter and Jacoba's marriage at De Graeff's castle Ilpenstein.[4]


In the year 1662 Pieter de Graeff became a member of the vroedschap of the City of Amsterdam. In 1664, after the death of his father Cornelis, he became a chief administrator of the VOC.[2] During the 1660s De Graeff became one of the guardians from William III of Orange.[5]

De Graeff was also an advisor and a close friend to Johan De Witt,[6] and after De Witts death in the rampjaar 1672 he became the guardian over his five children.[7] After the death of the brothers De Witt and the raise of the House of Orange and Gillis Valckenier, Pieter, his uncle Andries de Graeff and his nephew Lambert Reynst lost their political positions.[2]

Art and Lifestyle

Like his father Cornelis, Pieter de Graeff was also a man who surrounded himself with art and beauty. He was an art collector and patron to the artists Gerard Ter Borch, Jan Lievens, Karel Dujardin, Caspar Netscher and the poet Joost van den Vondel. Prof. C.W. Fock of the University of Leiden describes in her work – Het stempel van de bewoner[8] – Pieter de Graeffs art-collection and lifestyle. He stand also in close correspondence to Johan de Witt, Jacob Boreel,[2] Van den Vondel, the painter Jan Lievens and the mathematician, astronomer and physicist Christiaan Huygens.

From Pieter de Graeff diaries have been preserved. He made several notes on negotiations and payments from his possessions. He encountered some problems with the famous graphical artist Romeyn de Hooghe, who was going to draw an artistic map of De Graeffs estate Valkenburg. Besides he had some maps coloured by the artist David Reerigh, who also coloured several maps of the Hoogheemraadschap of Rijnland of 1687.

De Graeff also filled forty almanacs, or some 1600 pages, between 1664 and 1706.

Pieter de Graeff died on 3 June 1707; his tomb chapel is to be found in the Oude Kerk at Amsterdam.

Noble titles

Pieter de Graeff
Born: 15 August 1638 Died: 3 June 1707
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Cornelis de Graeff
Lord of the semisouverain Lordship Zuid-Polsbroek
Succeeded by
Johan de Graeff
Preceded by
Catharina Hooft and Jacob de Graeff
19.th Lord of the Fief of Purmerland and Ilpendam
Succeeded by
Cornelis de Graeff II.



  • Zandvliet, Kees (2006) De 250 rijksten van de Gouden Eeuw: kapitaal, macht, familie en levensstijl blz. 93 t/m 94, uitg. Nieuw Amsterdam, Amsterdam, ISBN 90-8689-006-7
  • Burke, P. (1994) Venice and Amsterdam. A study of seventeenth-century élites.
  • Graeff, P. De (P. de Graeff Gerritsz en Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek) Genealogie van de familie De Graeff van Polsbroek Amsterdam 1882, Antiquariaat A.G. van der Steur
  • Bruijn, J. H. De Genealogie van het geslacht De Graeff van Polsbroek 1529/1827 Antiquariaat A.G. van der Steur
  • Moelker, H.P. De heerlijkheid Purmerland en Ilpendam (1978 Purmerend)
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