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City and society in the Low Countries, 1200-1800: space, knowledge, social capital


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Main topic

Commons, guilds, beguinages

Description of project

The IAP-project 'City and society in the Low Countries, 1200-1800: space, knowledge, social capital' aims at capitalizing on acquired know-how ('Urban Society in the Low Countries') and at the same time at enlarging and rejuvenating the network in order to fulfil expanded scientific goals. Available know-how on urban history in Belgium (and in the Netherlands through collaboration with a Dutch team) is brought together in order to explore topics which reflect current trends in historical research and to evaluate methodological innovation. Three research packages are proposed whose subjects emphasize the socio-cultural and spatial historical approach:  

  1. urban space;
  2. knowledge and culture;
  3. social capital.


  • ‘Jean Molinet et son temps'

Dunkerque, Lille et Gand, 8-10 November 2007

Organised by the Ghent IAP-team (Jelle Haemers) in collaboration with Elodie Lecuppre-Desjardin and Estelle Doudet (Université de Lille III) and Jean Devaux (Université du Littoral, Dunkerque).


  • ‘Political and scientific networks among towns in England, France and the Southern Low Countries, 1580-1700’

Brussels, ULB, 15-16 November 2007 

Organised by Vittoria Feola with participation of the different IAP-partners.


  •  ‘Bridging the gap: problems of coordination and the organization of international commerce in late medieval European cities’

University of Antwerp, 7-8 December 2007

Organised by Peter Stabel, and James Murray.


  •  Settimana F. Datini

Prato, April 2007

C . Billen (ULB) and M. Boone (Ghent) took part on the theme of fiscality. They were subsequently asked to participate in another conference on the fiscal ideology in Clermont-Ferrand (Sept. 2007) and in a conference on ecclesiastical fiscality (Madrid, 2008). 


  • Social Science History Conference

Lisbon, February 2008

Session organized by Jelle Haemers (UGent) and Bert De Munck (UA) on: ‘Urban Guilds, corporations and social capital (13th-17th Centuries)’, with participation of Maarten Van Dijck (UA) in this session.


  • ‘The Economy and the State in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Low Countries: cooperation, competition, interdepence’  

New York, Columbia University, March 2008 

In March 2008 the conference ‘The Economy and the State in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Low Countries: cooperation, competition, interdepence’ took place at the Columbia University, New York. Several members of the project (Maarten Prak, Marc Boone, Anne-Laure Van Bruaene, Peter Stabel) participated in this workshop.


  • Ninth International European Urban History Conference in Lyon 

Lyon, August 2008, biennial congress of the European Association of Urban History

The IAP teams organised several sessions at this congress (sessions organised by M. Boone, C. Billen, J. Haemers, B. De Munck, M. Weis, A.-L. Van Bruaene, P. Stabel, B. Blondé). The specialist session entitled ‘Historians of the city and Henri Lefebvre’, organised by Claire Billen (ULB), Martha Howell (Columbia University, New York), and Marc Boone (UGent) elaborated on the theme of the social production of space, and the production of meaning through urban space. Jelle Haemers and Wouter Ryckbosch presented a joint lecture. 


  • Pre-modern Towns Conference, 2009

London, 31 January 2009

Jelle Haemers and Frederik Buylaert (UGent) presented a paper on the on the sexual behaviour of the nobility in town.


  • The institutional context of the art production in the Low Countries during the Early Modern Period

University of Ghent, 15 May 2009

Organized by Tim De Doncker (UGent) in cooperation with professor Anne-Laure van Bruaene and professor Katlijne Van der Stighelen. The workshop brought together scholars from both the fields of arts history as well as
history to reinforce the dialogue between art historians and historians who study art production in the early modern ages. The guilds and academies engaged in dialogues as well as in conflicts and determined the state of the art world in the early modern ages. Questions about the founding, the organization, and the membership of
artist guilds and academies, about rules and regulations, and flexibility, about artistic practices and representation, about continuity and discontinuity, coupled with a broad discussion on sources and methodological aspects pertaining to the study of the
guilds and the academies were the central themes of this workshop. 


  • International congress on medieval Studies

Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, 8 May 2009

Jelle Haemers organised a joint session with Christian Liddy (University of Durham).


  • Antwerp and the Renaissance: tradition, invention and appropriation, c. 1400-1600

University of Antwerp, 28-29 May 2009

This workshop maps the impact of the northern renaissance on Antwerp and vice versa. The impact of the renaissance was investigated in different fields (architecture, urban space, consumption, public culture, integration of migrants, medical knowledge, social control, warfare, etc.).


  • World Economic History Conference

Utrecht, 3-7 August 2009 (

Maarten Prak and Tine De Moor (UU) were on the local organizing committee. This congress offered excellent opportunities for scholars in economic history from all over the world to present their work, exchange knowledge and views, and set the research agenda for the years to come.


  • “Städtische Freiheiten und bürgerliche Partizipation vom Mittelalter bis heute”

Luxembourg, 7 September 2009

Annual meeting of the ‘International Commission for the History of Towns’. Jelle Haemers presented together with Jan Dumolyn his research on urban revolts at Ghent. 


  • Urban Networks and the Printing Trade in Early Modern Europe (15th – 18th Century)

Brussels, Royal Library of Belgium, 6 November 2009. 

This conference was organised by the Royal Library, the IAP, the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), the contact group FNRS ‘Documents rares et précieux’, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), and the Vlaamse Werkgroep Boekgeschiedenis (VWB). Other members of the IAP were associated to this event: Sébastien Afonso (ULB), Ann Kelders (KBR) and Monique Weis (ULB). 


  • Workshop: Market Culture in Late Medieval Early Modern Europe

Brussels, Francqui-chair: Martha Howell, 7 November 2009.

A workshop featuring new research on various aspects of trade, the social relations affected by trade, and the cultural responses to commerce.  


  • Interpreting the Signs and Voices of ‘the People’ in the Medieval Public Sphere

University of Ghent, 13-14 November 2009

This round table is the second one in a series of three organised by the Spanish-French-Belgian-British collaborative project, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science entitled ‘Espacio público, opinión y comunicación política a fines de la Edad Media / Public space, opinion and political communication in the late Middle Ages’. The first meeting took place at Seville in September 2008. During this meeting the analysis of different types of source material to discover the ‘voices of the subaltern’ was the central point of departure. Organised by Jelle Haemers and Jan Dumolyn with participation of several IAP-members.


  • Lecteurs, lectures et groupes sociaux au Moyen Age

KBR, 18 March 2010

Organised by Céline Van Hoorebeeck (Bibliothèque royale de Belgique) in collaboration with Xavier Hermand (Facultés universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix, Namur), with participation of B. Bousmanne.  


  • European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC) in Ghent

Ghent, 13-16 April 2010 (

The ESSHC aims at bringing together scholars interested in explaining historical phenomena using the methods of the social sciences. The IAP-members will also organise different sessions.


  • The Power of Space: Cities in Late Medieval/ Early Modern Italy and Northern Europe

New York, 11-12 March 2010

Organised by Marc Boone (Ugent) in collaboration with Claire Billen (ULB), Martha Howell (Colombia University), Elisabeth Crouzet-Pavan (§Université de Paris, Sorbonne). With participation of Marc Boone (UGent), Claire Billen (ULB), Chloé Deligne (ULB), Peter Stabel (UA).


  • Biennial congress on urban history

Ghent, 1-5 September 2010

As president of the European Association of Urban History Marc Boone organizes, with the IAP in support. 


  • Ghent University: Marc Boone (director), Hilde Symoens, Jelle Haemers, Susie Sutch, Hannes Lowagie, Tim De Doncker, Anne-Laure van Bruaene, Remco Sleiderink, Barm Vannieuwenhuyze, Jan Dumolyn, Jonas Braekevelt, Frederik Buylaert, Bert Verwerft, Thérèse de Hemptinne, Bart Lambert, Claudine Colyn
  • University of Antwerp: Bert de Munck, Bruno Blondé, Guido Marnef, Peter Stabel, Maarten Van Dijck, Tim Bisschops, Marloes Craane, Wouter Ryckbosch, Jelle De Rock, Ellen Burm, Jord Hanus, Dries Raeymaekers, Elke Ortmanns, Jan Demeester, Dries Lyna, Veerle De Laet, Reinoud Vermoessen, Arjan Van Dixhoorn, Ilja van Damme, Luc Duerloo
  • Free University of Brussels: Monique Weis, Claire Billen, Paolo Charruadas, Sébastien Afonso, David Kusman, Chloé Deligne, Xavier Stevens, Michèle Galand
  • Utrecht University: Maarten Prak, Tine De Moor, Claartje Rasterhoff
  • Royal Library of Belgium (KBR): Bernard Bousmanne, Céline Van Hoorebeeck, Ann Keldrs, Renaud Adam, Antoon-Michaël Verweij, Paul De Ridder
  • Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium (KMSKB/MRBAB): Sabine Van Sprang, Tine Meganck, Irene Schaudies, Stefaan Hautekeete
  • International Experts: Willem Blockmans, Elisabeth Crouzet-Paven, Derek Keene, Herman Pleij


The composition of the teams (UGent, ULB, UA, KBR, MRBAB/KMSKB and Universiteit Utrecht) came about in order to take maximum advantage of available competencies and in response to a clear wish both to redirect research in the direction of cultural studies in a broad interdisciplinary sense (hence the incorporation of the Royal Museum) and to explore the link between urban economy and the diffusion of intellectual knowledge (hence the incorporation of the University of Utrecht as European partner).

Funding body

Belgian Science Policy


Prof. dr. Marc Boone (Ghent University) 

Contact details 

Prof. dr. Marc Boone (Ghent University)

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