Historian and Intellectual Lisa Jardine (1944-2015)

The 25th October 2015 saw the death of British historian, writer and intellectual Lisa Jardine, who wrote on a wide range of subjects including influential work on historical relations between England and the Netherlands.

Jardine was born in Oxford in 1944 into an artistic and intellectual family. Her Polish Jewish father Jacob Bronowski earned his name as presenter of the BBC series The Ascent of Man, and her mother Rita Coblentz was a sculptress. Jardine studied maths and literature at Cambridge University.

Affiliated with Queen Mary University of London and UCL, Jardine wrote about William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Erasmus, Christopher Wren, Grayson Perry and women in the Labour Party, as well as participating in a wide range of cultural organisations.


In her book Going Dutch: how England Plundered Holland's Glory Jardine tackled the question of why 17th century England unquestioningly accepted William III as its new king, tracing cultural, economic and political connections between the two nations which paved the way for the change, at a time when it was easier to travel from London to Amsterdam than to the north of England.

The core of Jardine’s thesis was that William was received as a guest because of Holland’s extensive influence on the island. Dutch engineers had reclaimed land in East Anglia, Dutch investors financed the Bank of England and Anthony van Dyck painted portraits of English kings. The invasion was the pinnacle of this tide of influence and formed the basis for the British empire. Going Dutch was much praised, with author Adam Nicholson crediting Jardine with coming up with the subject.

Jardine was also active in the Netherlands, teaching at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences and at Leiden University and sitting on a committee overseeing an exhibition on Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens in the Grote Kerk in The Hague. In 2010 she delivered the 39th Huizinga-lecture in Leiden, entitled The Afterlife of Homo Ludens: from Huizinga to Zemon Davis and beyond. In 1995, she contributed an article to The Low Countries Yearbook.

She leaves behind her husband, architect John Hare, and three children.

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