This is the story of four centuries during which Leiden University shared the fate of the Netherlands, and became representative of the most important advances in academic research. At the same time it is a declaration of adoration to one of Europe’s most leading international universities. On 28 December 1574, William of Orange wrote a letter to the States General of the provinces of Holland and Zeeland from the town of Middelburg. He came to the representatives with a proposal, a dream actually, with the plan for founding ‘a good, gratifying and renowned school or university’. This letter would become the first document in the archives of Leiden University, offering an apt title for this concise history.
Willem Otterspeer (1950) is Professor of University History at Leiden University. Along with the present work, he is the author of a comprehensive, four-volume history of Leiden University. In addition to his roles as historian and biographer, he is also an essayist and a critic.