Returning Urban Political Elites to the Research Agenda: The Case of the Southern Low Countries (c. 1350 - c. 1550)

Frederik Buylaert, Jelten Baguet, Janna Everaert

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Abstract

This article provides a comparative analysis of four large towns in the Southern Low Countries between c. 1350 and c. 1550. Combining the data on Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp - each of which is discussed in greater detail in the articles in this special section - with recent research on Bruges, the authors argue against the historiographical trend in which the political history of late medieval towns is supposedly dominated by a trend towards oligarchy. Rather than a closure of the ruling class, the four towns show a high turnover in the social composition of the political elite, and a consistent trend towards aristocracy, in which an increasingly large number of aldermen enjoyed noble status. The intensity of these trends differed from town to town, and was tied to different institutional configurations as well as different economic and political developments in each of the four towns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-588
Number of pages21
JournalUrban History
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • urban elites
  • Low countries
  • Ghent
  • Antwerp
  • Malines
  • Bruges
  • Mechelen

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