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Letters of Countess nominated for UNESCO International Memory of the World Register


The archive of Geldern (Gelders Archief) in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and the Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv (Hannover, Germany) have nominated the correspondence of Charlotte Sophie Countess Bentinck (1715-1800) to be included in the UNESCO International Memory of the World. The correspondence consists of approximately 25,000 personal letters over a period of more than 65 years. As such, this correspondence gives an impressive picture of the life of the European nobility in the eighteenth century. She corresponded with the great personalities of the world, including Voltaire, Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, Marquis de Lafayette, representatives of the courts of Vienna and Copenhagen and many other political figures, intelligentsia and scientists in and outside the Dutch Republic.

The correspondence deals mainly with social and political issues, such as education, emancipation, the French Revolution, European wars and developments in Russia. The internationally renowned author Hella Haasse used this correspondence to portray Countess Bentinck in her novels: Mevrouw Bentinck of Onverenigbaarheid van karakter. Een ware geschiedenis (Amsterdam 1978) and De groten der aarde of Bentinck tegen Bentinck. Een geschiedverhaal (Amsterdam 1981) (translated into French and German). Though located at the Geldern Archive, the documents are in fact the ownership of descendants of Countess Bentinck, family Zu Ortenburg at Middachten estate near Arnhem. On the 18th of November 2016 an international conference on the Bentinck family will be held at Middachten estate: The World of the Bentincks.

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