Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search


The Library of Trinity College and the KB National Library of the Netherlands are collaborating on a video project about the Fagel family and their collections. In the first series of videos we visit the places, people, histories and collections that mattered to them most. After all, we should get to know the Fagels a little bit better before we can begin to understand the full significance of their private library. The second series gives a closeup look at some of the finest books from the Fagel collection in which experts share behind-the-scenes insight into the techniques, tools and knowledge that are helping to open up the collection and prepare it for the next phase of its long life.

Series 1: The Fagels


Successive members of the Fagel family held high offices in the Dutch Republic throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The private library of the family has been in Dublin since 1802, but which traces of the Fagels can still be found in The Hague? Follow the history of the family and their collections in a series of videos.

1. The Fagel Family Home

The former family home of the Fagels that was designed by Daniël Marot is located at the Noordeinde in The Hague. Today, an Irish pub is housed in the building, but at the back you can still find the atmosphere of the eighteenth century.

2. The Dome of Fagel

The Dome of Fagel is located the back of the former mansion of the Fagels. The outside of the building has a sober appearance, but once inside we come face to face with one of the most beautiful baroque ceilings in the Netherlands.

3. Pamphlet Battles

A renowned part of the Fagel Collection in the Library of Trinity College Dublin are the 276 volumes with pamphlets, dealing with social and political issues of the day. Important information for a greffier who wanted to know what was going on in society. At times, the Fagels themselves were the subject of debate. Pamphlets were published that reminded them to watch their steps. Jeroen Vandommele is curator of modern manuscripts in the KB National Library and he shows us a remarkable manuscript pamphlet from the collection of the KB that is directed against Gaspar Fagel.

4. At the Centre of Power

The Binnenhof (English: ‘Inner Court’) is a complex of buildings in the city centre of The Hague, where the meeting place of both houses of the States General of the Netherlands are situated. The Fagels were active here from 1670 until 1795, when five successive generations of the family held the position of greffier of the States General. In this video, we visit the Old Library of the House of Representatives in search of connections with the Fagel Collection at Trinity College. The books on the shelves show us how practices in government administration were continued by the successors of the Fagels after 1795.

5. The Fagel Archives

The Fagel archives – The Fagel Collection in the Library of Trinity College may be a treasure trove, but the key to unlock it is found in the National Archives in The Hague. They not only keep the vast archives of the States General and the hundreds of volumes with state resolutions, but also the family archive of the Fagels. These archives comprise hundreds of boxes packed with personal documents, travel reports and correspondence. Arjan Poelwijk, archival specialist at the National Archives, explains how the various archival collections are related to one another. Project manager Alex Alsemgeest follows up with a tale from the Fagels’ family history.

6. Private Libraries in The Hague

The Hague was one of the important Dutch book towns in the eighteenth century. Important families were connected, and it was along these lines that a beautifully bound genealogy of the Fagels ended up in Museum Meermanno, House of the Book. Former curator of the museum Erik Geleijns explains more about book auctions, the world of the book in The Hague and the place of the Fagels within this history.

7. Libraries in Times of Revolution

The KB National Library of the Netherlands was founded in the summer of 1798 on the instigation of revolutionary politicians of the Batavian Republic. It can be argued that the KB originates from the same revolution that banished the Fagels from their office. There is a striking similarity between the two libraries: whereas the Fagels had built up a library to support the work at the registry, the KB was initially only open to representatives of the people. Curator of Early Printed Books Esther van Gelder shows a number of books that demonstrate how the fate of both libraries was rooted in the Batavian Revolution.

8. A Short Century of Fagel Research

The KB, National Library of the Netherlands and the Library of Trinity College have been working together on a project to unravel the secrets of the Fagel collection since 2020. Dutch interest in the collection goes back a long way. General director of the KB Leendert Brummel visited Dublin in the 1930s. Former curator of Early Printed Books Marieke van Delft gives a brief overview of the Fagel history from Brummel up to the current project.

9. International Cooperation

The Fagel Collection is shared cultural heritage. The library was built up over the course of one-and-a-half centuries in The Hague, and has been kept safe in Dublin for more than two centuries. The central place of the Fagels in early modern European networks and the role of the Dutch Republic on the world stage, potentially offer a great variety of perspectives and histories that can be told from this collection. General director of the KB Lily Knibbeler and Ambassador of Ireland to the Netherlands Kevin Kelly stress that this can best be achieved by working together.

Series 2: The Fagel Library


The Fagel family’s vast collection of books has been in the library of Trinity College Dublin since 1802. Follow the second series of videos to discover some of its gems and aspects of the ongoing project to share these with the world.

1. Arrival in Dublin

When 115 cases of Hendrik Fagel’s books and maps arrived in Dublin in 1802, the collections of the Library of Trinity College Dublin increased by 40% overnight. They reflected the knowledge and information that circulated in the 18th century on a great variety of subjects. A shared European heritage, it has since been at the heart of the Library, and the project ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection’ seeks to make it accessible to all.

2. Arrival at Trinity College Dublin

The Fagel Collection has been housed in the stunning Old Library since its arrival at Trinity College Dublin. Today it is the first collection visitors encounter upon entering the Long Room. Despite successive remodellings of the building since, the riches of this collection remain together, identifiably marked as belonging to a distinct historical library. Today it is an important resource for its material aspects, content and historical context.

3. The Fagel Pamphlets

The pamphlets collected and arranged by François Fagel the Younger make up 278 volumes containing some 5,500 pamphlets published between 1541 and 1736. These short printed works were collected, organised and bound together in bespoke combinations. They reflect the information culture of the 17th- and 18th-century Dutch Republic, and cover everything from political events to gruesome murders and natural phenomena. Gathered and used by members of a family that was at the heart of Dutch politics, the Fagel pamphlets are a unique resource to learn about the mindset of the time.

4. Books Dedicated and Gifted to the Fagels

The books in the Fagel collection were bound in a variety of styles, ranging from quite simple to truly luxurious. The ornately decorated volumes were often presented as gifts to individual members of the Fagel family, either by the author or on their behalf. Printed dedications also provide evidence of how these books arrived in the collection. In this case, judging books by their covers can actually be a first step towards understanding the history of the Fagel library.

5. The Fagels and the Architects

Within the Fagel Collection are materials documenting architectural endeavours, particularly of the 17th and 18th centuries. These range from books and engravings that show temporary celebratory structures, to detailed drawings of the gardens and palaces of Saint Petersburg. Today, as then, these items communicate information on what cities, buildings and gardens looked like in cultural centres across Europe. In studying the collection’s rich holdings, researchers gain insight into the architectural history and visual representation of early modern society.

6. Conversations with Friends

As a working library for generations of greffiers to the States General, the Fagel Collection holds a wealth of publications useful to and issued by government. As a private library, it also contains volumes of exquisite beauty that served as conversation starters when dignitaries visited the Fagel home. These gems still serve a similar purpose today at the Library of Trinity College Dublin.

7. Conservation of the Fagel Collection

Over the centuries, books in the Fagel Collection have become worn through use. Different binding materials and structures require careful attention from conservators so that fragile books can be used again. This crucial step also prepares the books for digitisation. The specialised work done in the Preservation and Conservation Department is therefore an integral step in ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection’.

8. Digitisation of the Fagel Collection

Digitisation is a key part of what it means to ‘unlock’ the Fagel Collection. High quality imaging and technological enhancement make it possible for new audiences to explore the books in innovative ways. Collaborating with local and international colleagues expands the ways in which the collection can be used.

9. Future in the Fagel Collection

The project of ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection’ is working to fully describe and catalogue every book and pamphlet. Once complete, it will for the first time be possible to find every single item in the catalogue of the Library of Trinity College Dublin, and via the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands (STCN). This will open up the collection to new possibilities for research and exploration by users from around the globe.

These videos were created as part of the project ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection’, a collaboration between the KB National Library of the Netherlands and the Library of Trinity College Dublin, and made possible with the support of the Government of The Netherlands. The videos were created by Jaar & Dag Media.