Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Theodore Cornhert
CORNHERT, Theodore (1522–1590), a Dutch writer on politics and theology, was born at Amsterdam of a good Dutch family. While a child he was for some years in Spain and Portugal. On returning to Holland, having married a wife without fortune in defiance of the provisions of his father's will, he was obliged to accept a situation as major-domo to the father of the Henry Broderode who took so prominent a part in the contest with Spain. Afterwards he settled in Haarlem as an engraver on copper. In 1562 he obtained the post of secretary to the city of Haarlem, and in 1564 that of secretary to the burgomasters of that city. He now threw himself into the struggle of his country against Spanish tyranny; and he was employed to draw up the famous manifesto which the prince of Orange published in 1566. Not long after he was seized and imprisoned by the Government; but he escaped to Cleves, where he maintained himself by his art. When the States, however, obtained their freedom, Cornhert returned home, and became secretary of state; but this position he did not long retain, on account, it is said, of the rigour with which he strove to repress military disorders. Cornhert was also famous as a theologian. At thirty years of age, having become interested in theology, and being desirous of consulting St Augustine, he commenced the study of Latin. He entered into controversy alike with Catholics and Reformers, with both of whom he refused to communicate. Reformers, he said, were sadly wanted, but those who called themselves such were not the kind that the church required; what was needed was apostles directly inspired from heaven. Till such were sent, he advised all churches to join together in an undogmatic communion.
He wrote a treatise against the capital punishment of heretics, a pamphlet defending the rebellion of the United Provinces, a preface to the Dutch grammar published by the Society of Rhetoricians of Amsterdam, and a number of poems, including, according to some, the popular song, Wilhelmus van Nassouwen, which, however, is attributed by others to Philip van Marnix. His collected works appeared in 1630.