Borderland Nobility

Borderland nobility: between France and the Netherlands (1470-1660)

Researcher: Violet Soen

This research project will contribute to two ongoing debates in Early Modern history by analysing the nobility at the border between France and the Netherlands from 1470 until 1660. The first debate concerns the role of the nobility in early modern state formation; the second one hinges on the effectiveness of monarchic patronage in influencing the strategies of noble lineages. The peculiarity of nobility in the ‘Franco-Netherlandish’ borderlands, with widespread possessions and therefore relations with various sovereigns, solves the one-sided approach of most research addressing only one early modern state. The working hypothesis presumes that longer than supposed the nobility had a fair amount of autonomy towards his prince(s) and developed a strategy which not always corresponded to state borders. This hypothesis will be tested through four periods of unrest, sparked by rebellion or bilateral conflict: (1) the Franco-Burgundian rivalry between 1470 and 1492, (2) the Franco-Habsburg Wars (1521-1559), (3) the Civil and Religious Wars in France and the Netherlands (1559-1598) and (4) the Frondes (Spanish Habsburg Netherlands 1632 and France 1649-1653). The project hinges on multidisciplinary border studies and transnational history, as it addresses the multilayered identity formation of an aristocracy operating in a transnational space.

Publications related to this project:

V. Soen, ‘The Chièvres Legacy, the Croÿ Family and Litigation in Paris. Dynastic Identities between the Low Countries and France (1519-1559)’, in: L. Geevers and M. Marini (eds.), Dynastic Identity in Early Modern Europe: Rulers, Aristocrats and the Formation of Identities (Politics and Culture in Europe, 1650-1750), Ashgate, Farnham, 2015, 87-102. Link to article

V. Soen and H. Cools, ‘L’aristocratie transrégionale et les frontières. Les processus d’identification politique dans les maisons de Luxembourg-Saint-Pol et de Croÿ (1470-1530)’, in: V. Soen, Y. Junot en F. Mariage (eds.), L’identité au pluriel. Jeux et enjeux des appartenances autour des anciens Pays-Bas, XIVe-XVIIIe siècles / Identity and Identities. Belonging at stake in and around the Low Countries, 14th-18th centuries (Revue du Nord, Hors série, Collection Histoire 30), Villeneuve d’Ascq, 2014, 209-228.

V. Soen, ‘La Causa Croÿ et les limites du mythe bourguignon: la frontière, le lignage et la mémoire (1465-1475)’ in: J.-M. Cauchies and P. Peporte (eds.), Mémoires conflictuelles et mythes concurrents dans les pays bourguignons (ca. 1380-1580) (Publications du Centre d’études bourguignonnes XIVe-XVIe s. 52), Neuchâtel, 2012, 81-97.

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