Johannes Narssius

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Johannes Narssius[1] (9 November 1580, Dordrecht – 1637, Batavia, Dutch East Indies)[2] was a Dutch physician and Neo-Latin poet, initially a Remonstrant minister.


He was born Johan van Naars(s)en in Dordrecht on 9 November 1580,[3] and studied philosophy and theology at the University of Leiden.[4] He may have lived in the house of Gerardus Vossius in 1602.[5] A disciple of Jacobus Arminius, his theological beliefs came into question in 1605.[6] In one of the early Leiden debates involving Arminius, he responded to Johannes Kuchlinus.[7]

Narssius was a subscriber to the Confessio orthodoxa of Conrad Vorstius, successor to Arminius at Leiden, and was strongly reprimanded for that by the Synod of Harderwijk.[4] He was pastor at Grave and then Zaltbommel, but lost his posts because of his combative Remonstrant approach.[5] He reportedly travelled to England to present Arminian documents to Archbishop George Abbot, meeting a very hostile reception.[8] After the general exile of Remonstrants from the Netherland he was at the Arminian colony of Friedrichstadt in Holstein.[9]

He spent time in Poland, and Sweden, where he was court poet.[10] In Riga he knew Rütger Hemsing (1604–1643), another physician-poet, and an associate of Galileo.[11] He corresponded with Ole Worm on archaeology.[12] Under the name Hans van der Ast he took letters from Frederick V, Elector Palatine in Germany to his wife Elizabeth of Bohemia, who was in The Hague.[13]

Returning to the Netherlands, he took a position with the Dutch East India Company. He travelled to the Indies, where he died.[4]


Narssius belonged to the "Dordrecht School" of Latin poets, which included also the Remonstrant Samuel Naeranus.[14] He is remembered for Gustavidos sive de bello Sueco-austriaco libri tres 1632) and Gustavidos liber quartus (1634), published in Hamburg, which were Latin epic poems.[15] He also wrote a tragedy Gustavus saucius (1629 and 1632) on Gustavus Adolphus, for whom he was physician and historiographer, from 1625 or 1626.[16][17][18]

Other poetical works were:

  • Prosopopoeia Hamburgi (1623)[4]
  • Poëmata septentrionalia aliaque nonulla miscellanea (1624)[citation needed]
  • Fides et humanitas Polonica erga delegatos regios Suedorum (Riga, 1625)[19]
  • Riga devicta ab Augustissimo principe Gustavo Adolpho (Riga, 1625)[11]
  • Meva Pomerelliae obsidione Polonorum liberata ductu augustissimi Sueciae &c. regis Gustavi Adolphi (Stockholm, 1627)[20]

An epitaph of his was collected in Robert Monro, Monro his Expedition with the Worthy Scots Regiment.[21] It was for John Sinclair, third son of George Sinclair, 5th Earl of Caithness, killed at Newmarke in the Palatinate, in 1632.[22]


  1. ^ Narssius or Narsius is a latinized version of Van Naarsen, also spelled (Van) Naarssen, Naersen, or Naerssen. Forename variants include Johann, Johan, Joann, Joannes.
  2. ^ Collection of biographies (in Dutch), Digitale bibliotheek voor de Nederlanse lettern
  3. ^ A. J. van der Aa (1872). Biographisch woordenboek der Nederlanden: bevattende levensbeschrijvingen van zoodanige personen... (in Dutch). J. J. van Brederode. p. 3.
  4. ^ a b c d (in German) de:s:ADB:Narsius, Johannes
  5. ^ a b Gerardus Joannes Vossius (1577-1649) by C. S. M. Rademaker (1967).
  6. ^ The works of James Arminius, D. D., formerly professor of divinity in the University of Leyden vol. 1 (1825), p. 264, footnote; Google Books.
  7. ^ Keith D. Stanglin, Arminius on the Assurance of Salvation: the context, roots, and shape of the Leiden debate, 1603-1609 (2007), p. 123; Google Books.
  8. ^ James Nichols citing Gerard Brandt's History of the Reformation, Calvinism and Arminianism Compared in their Principles and Tendency (1824), p. clvii;
  9. ^ Johann Lorenz Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History: ancient and modern (1832 translation by James Murdock), p. 507; Google Books.
  10. ^ Kenneth E. Hall, Stonewall Jackson and Religious Faith in Military Command (2005), p. 87; Google Books.
  11. ^ a b (in German) Gero von Wilpert, Deutschbaltische Literaturgeschichte (2005), p. 79; Google Books.
  12. ^ Bjarne Stoklund, Ethnologia Europaea, Volume 33 (2001), p. 17; Google Books.
  13. ^ Nadine Akkerman, The Letters of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, Volume II (2011), pp. 39–40 note 6; Google Books.
  14. ^ Sibbe Jan Visser, Samuel Naeranus (1582-1641) en Johannes Naeranus (1608-1679): twee remonstrantse theologen op de bres voor godsdienstige verdraagzaamheid (2011), pp. 201–2; Google Books.
  15. ^ Hans Helander, The Gustavis of Venceslaus Clemens
  16. ^ Geschiedenis van het drama en van het tooneel in Nederland. Deel 1 (1903), by J. A. Worp; note 1 on p. 236.
  17. ^ Briefwisseling van Hugo Grotius. Deel 3 (1961) (ed. P. C. Molhuysen and B. L. Meulenbroek), p. 34 note 2.
  18. ^ Karen Skovgaard-Petersen, Historiography at the Court of Christian IV (1588-1648): studies in the Latin histories of Denmark by Johannes Pontanus and Johannes Meursius (2002), p. 440; Google Books.
  19. ^ (in Polish) Catalogue entry.
  20. ^ Yale catalogue entry.
  21. ^ History of Caithness , notes by James Traill Calder.
  22. ^ Scotsmen Serving the Swede (PDF), p. 51.

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