Lodewijk Elzevir


Lodewijk Elzevir (c. 1540, Leuven – 4 February 1617, Leiden), originally Lodewijk or Louis Elsevier or Elzevier, was a printer, born in the city of Leuven (today in Belgium, then part of the Habsburg Netherlands or Spanish Netherlands). He was the founder of the House of Elzevir, which printed, for example, "Two New Sciences", a work of Galileo,[1] at a time when his work was suppressed for religious reasons. Although the House of Elzevir ceased publishing in 1712, the modern Dutch Elsevier company was founded in 1880 and took its name from the historic Dutch publishing house.[2]

Title page from Prof. Nicolaes Tulp's book called Observacionum Medicarum, published by Ludovicum Elzevirium, 1641


Elzevir, son of Hans Helschevier, was born in Leuven and started his career as a bookbinder at the printing shop of Christoffel Plantijn in Antwerp. In 1563 he married Maijke de Verdeijen Verbois in Antwerp, where his first two sons were born. He moved to Wesel before 1570, to Douai before 1575 and settled in Leiden before 1580.

He produced his first book at Leiden in 1583 and under his descendants the business continued until 1791. The printing house was instrumental in the publication of important work in science. Atypical of other printers of the era, Elzevir books focused on sturdiness rather than elegance and legibility over ornate characters. His books were usually smaller with narrow margins. Christopher van Dyck was one of the type designers. Most of the work was published in Latin.

His oldest son Matthijs and his sixth son Bonaventure Elzevir and his grandsons Abraham and Isaac Elzevir continued and expanded the business. The Lodowijk Elzevir who famously met Galileo in Arcetri in 1636 was the grandson of this Lodwijk (1604–1670).[3][4][5]


  1. ^ John Michael Lewis (2006). Galileo in France: French Reactions to the Theories and Trial of Galileo. Peter Lang. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-8204-5768-0.
  2. ^ John J. Regazzi (12 February 2015). Scholarly Communications: A History from Content as King to Content as Kingmaker. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-8108-9088-6.
  3. ^ "Elsevier". Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Bd. 6. Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Duncker & Humblot. 1877. p. 62.
  4. ^ Brian Clegg (22 July 2016). A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable. Little, Brown. ISBN 9781472107640.
  5. ^ Michael Sharratt (22 July 2016). Galileo: Decisive Innovator. CUP. ISBN 9780521566711.

External linksEdit

  • Exhaustive pedigree of the Elsevier/Elzevier family, ±1500-present
  • Genealogy at geneanet.org


Literature in archives and in libraries and online on Internet Archive.Org:

  • Hartman de Custer, Handschriftenverzameling Rotterdam 13, Collectie 33-01 (Stadsarchief Rotterdam, 1760, 346p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • J.F. Adry, Notice sur les imprimeurs de la famille des Elzévirs (Delance, Paris, 1806, 60p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • Charles Pieters, Genealogie de la famille Elsevier, Annex de: Analyse des matériaux les plus utiles, pour des futures annales de l’imprimerie des Elsevier (C. Annoot-Braeckman, Gand, 1843, 76p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • W.J.C. Rammelman Elsevier, Uitkomsten van een onderzoek omtrent de Elseviers, meer bepaaldelijk met opzigt tot derzelver genealogie (N. van der Monde, Utrecht, 1845, 100p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • A. de Reume, Recherches historiques, généalogiques et bibliographiques sur les Elsevier, (Ad. Wahlen et compagnie, Bruxelles, 1847, 124p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • Charles Pieters, Annales de l'Imprimerie Elsevirienne et histoire de la famille des Elsevier et de ses editions, (C. Annoot-Braeckman, Gand, 1851, 468p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • Charles Pieters, Annales de l'Imprimerie des Elsevier ou histoire de leur famille et de leurs éditions. Seconde édition, revue et augmentée, (C. Annoot-Braeckman, Gand, 1858, 575p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • Alphonse Willems, Les Elzevier histoire et annales typographiques, (G.A. van Trigt, Bruxelles, Adolphe Labitte, Paris, Martinus Nijhoff, La Haye, 1880, 865p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • P. Haverkorn van Rijsewijk, ‘‘Bijdrage tot de Geschiedenis der Elseviers’‘ (Oud Holland, Jg. XIV, 1896, 33p) Here at Internet Archive.Org
  • Alfons Willems, ‘‘Lodewijk Elzevier's geboortejaar’‘ (Tijdschrift voor boek- en bibliotheekwezen, Jg. VI, 1908, 3p)
Literature in libraries and for sale online
  • David W. Davies, The World of the Elseviers 1580-1712, (Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1954, 168p)
  • S.L. Hartz, The Elseviers and their Contemporaries, (Elsevier, Amsterdam-Brussels, 1955, 107p)
  • Paul Hoftijzer e.a. (red.), Boekverkopers van Europa - Het 17de-eeuwse Nederlandse uitgevershuis Elzevier, (Walburg pers, Zutphen, 2000, 352p)
Literature in libraries
  • A.M. Bosters, Enige genealogische gegevens over het West-Brabantse geslacht Elsevier, (A.M. Bosters. Voorburg, 2000, 5p)
  • C.E.G. ten Houte de Lange, Stockmans, Stokmans, Elsevier Stokmans, Elzevier Stokmans (Megen), (NIGHO, Zeist, 2006, 48p)