“Facebook” of the Golden Age

You would not expect it, but social media are nothing new… Literature Sophie Reinders recently graduated (cum laude) on the dissertation The Moss and the Candle. Friendship and love in alba amicorum of noble women from the northern Netherlands 1575-1640.

At that time, ‘alba amicorum’, Latin was used for ‘friends albums’. Sophie Reinders studied these books. Young noble women used these friends albums to collect drawings, personal sayings and poems of friends and family. In addition, the booklets also commented on these messages. Flirting, joke making, whatever happens to Facebook now also existed 450 years ago! The owners of these books were generally 20 years old and stopped writing when they married.

alba amicorum
A [page out of Rutghera van Eck’s friends book, from the collection Schimmelpenninck van der Oije. Image: Adeln High Council.

Social life

The book gives a nice glimpse into the social life of this age: the Golden Age. Sophie Reinders discovered that women were more interesting than what was generally known about this ‘men’s world’. They often spoke several languages and went on a trips for inspiration, whilst still maintaining the upkeep of a large household.

Hype

Reinders investigated more than 30 books and therefore could reconstruct a fraction of these womans lives. In addition, she realizes that she only gets a superficially ‘zoomed’ look, just like the current Facebook profiles. Now that’s the case, the more people wrote a contribution to your book, the better! It also predicts how these friends books went on, how likely it will be with the current social media… It was a bit of a hype. The last book Reinders investigated dates back to 1640. Then this fashion phenomenon was over…

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