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The struggle for the commons in the late medieval Campine Area 


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Main topic

Commons, late medieval, Campine area

Description of project

Common pool resources studies tend to limit themselves to economical or political turning points that led to the disappearance of these resources. Conflicts on the commons however, were not limited to these great economic and political turning points. Even in regions and periods where no structural changes in the rural economy and no straightforward ‘assault’ on the commons was launched, such as the late medieval Campine area, the use and regulation of the common pool resources was permanently debated.


In this project, actors, arguments and outcomes of these late medieval conflicts are analysed, not only to reveal changing use of and expectations on the commonly managed natural resources by different stakeholders, but also to reveal changes in the local balance of power and in the physical, natural environment within and beyond the rural villages.


Through an investigation of litigation processes on the Campine commons this project questions how control over the vital commons was used by different groups to gain influence in the village society and how these power struggles affected the use and management of the commons. By doing so, it aims to offer an innovative view of the hidden dynamics of the late medieval Campine society and its use and management of the natural environment.




  • Prof. dr. Tim Soens (University of Antwerp)
  • Maïka De Keyzer (University of Antwerp, department of History)

Funding body

  • 2009-2010: University of Antwerp, Dehousse-mandate
  • 2010-2014: Research Foundation Flanders (FWO Vlaanderen), PhD fellowship


Prof. dr. Tim Soens (University of Antwerp)

Contact details

Tim Soens

(0032) 326 543 49


Maïka De Keyzer

(0032) 326 544 85

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