RSA New Orleans 2018

Borders, borders everywhere… at the RSA New Orleans 2018

Borders, borders everywhere! It is one of the subtitles in Ben Kaplan’s Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe, but it also applies to the upcoming annual conference of the Renaissance Society of America in New Orleans. We highlighted already these three panels on the program #RenSA18


Thu, March 22, 2:00 to 3:30pm

Harrah’s Hotel, 2nd Level – Satchmo Room


Catholic Empires, Real and Planned

 Giada Pizzoni (Warwick) British Catholic Merchants: Global Trading Networks and a British National Identity, 1660–1705

This paper examines the ways in which Catholics moved beyond religious divisions and across national borders in order to sustain British trade. I argue that Catholics played an important part in the early modern commercial expansion. Although Catholicism in the British Isles implied marginalisation, it was instrumental in fostering trade networks, securing successful economic strategies with Protestant partners. By surveying British Catholics’ involvement in Atlantic and Mediterranean trade, I argue that they secured social integration through economic inclusion thereby defying the stereotype of a prosecuted community. Furthermore, I will challenge the widely accepted notion in modern historiography of a Protestant national identity constructed against a Catholic ‘other’. I argue that Catholics fostered networks of inter-faith trade within an emerging Protestant empire, fundamentally sustaining British commercial expansion.

 Violet Soen (Leuven), A Catholic International, or Transregional Catholicism in Cambrai (1559–1659)?

Reformation Studies have established a ‘Calvinist International’ branching out through protestant exiles under persecution, yet over the last years A. Walsham has pointed out similar processes emanating from Catholic English exiles settling on the continent. If we have come to acknowledge the importance of English exiles arriving in Douai and Saint Omer, buttressing a ‘Catholic International’, we still know virtually nothing about their interactions with the host society in the ecclesiastical province of Cambrai, as well as about their exchanges with exiles from France or more northern parts of the Low Countries. Through the lens of print culture in Cambrai, an online database developed in Leuven provides now the necessary evidence to unravel the transregional dynamics in this border region. Hence, this paper addresses the impact of the ‘Catholic International’ on a local, regional and global level, and it will show that the melting pot of Cambrai spurred a transregional Catholicism.

Eric Durot (York) A French Renaissance Dream: The Franco-British Empire of the Valois

This paper aims to demonstrate how the French kings not only challenged directly the Habsburg during the Renaissance period, but also wanted to create a Franco-British Empire. By the union of the crowns of France and Scotland (the dauphin Francis married Mary Stuart), Henry II tried to rule Scotland, considering the Scots as his subjects. Scotland was also a way to gain England: with Mary Stuart, great-grand-daughter of Henry VII Tudor, the French king claimed to the English throne. However, in 1559-60, the ‘Scottish Reformation Rebellion’, supported by England, broke the French dream during the reign of Francis II and Mary Stuart. This transnational and politico-religious approach highlights the 1550s-60s turning point and helps to understand the outbreak of the Wars of Religion, the Scottish revolt being in fact the first French war of Religion.


Thu, March 22, 4:00 to 5:30pm

Harrah’s Hotel, 2nd Level – Fulton Street Salon II


Imagined Territories: Constructions and Representations of Territories and Boundaries in the Late Medieval Low Countries

Mario Damen (Amsterdam), Listing Space in the Late Medieval Low Countries

How did late medieval princes, nobles and urban elites perceive and represent the territory they were living in? What was their concept and perception of political space before cartography and state formation turned boundaries and territories into more fixed geographical entities? I will formulate an answer to these questions by examining a range of different sources concerning the different principalities of the Low Countries, in the period 1350-1550. I will focus on different kinds of lists, ideal sources for approaching space before the availability of reliable maps. In the first part of this paper, I will draw mainly on administrative lists, since it is the administration that constructs borders and defines a jurisdiction. In contrast, in the second part of my paper I will analyse heraldic lists and compendia. Heraldry was omnipresent in the late medieval and early modern world and was a powerful visual tool to represent space.

Kim Overlaet (Amsterdam), The Perception of Borders in a Changing Territory: The Late Medieval Low Countries through Foreign Eyes

In the premodern period, the Burgundian and Habsburg Low Countries can only to a certain extent be considered a political unity. Indeed, the autonomy of the principalities, lordships and towns was protected by extensive rights and privileges, which all new rulers had to swear to uphold. In the past decades, scholars have paid increasing attention to the processes of identity-formation in these smaller territorial units. Yet, they tend to focus on the ‘local’ point of view. The question central to this paper is how foreign travellers visiting the Low Countries perceived and represented the Burgundian and Habsburg composite state. How did they experience the physical, political and cultural boundaries between, for example, Flanders and Brabant, or between Antwerp and Brussels? In order to answer these questions, I will analyse the travel narratives written by Pero Tafur (1436-39) and Lodovico Guicciardini (1567), in comparison to contemporary regional chronicles and inauguration charters.

Arend Elias Oostindiër (Amsterdam): Territory as Practice: The Incessant Construction of the Late Medieval Duchy of Brabant

In order to understand late medieval territories, it is vital not only to be concerned with perception and representation, but also with their practical construction on a day-to-day basis. Following Stuart Elden, “territory” may be conceptualised as a bundle of economic, strategic, legal and technological factors, but it is still unclear how actual late medieval territories were produced by practices of concrete actors. Taking the duchy of Brabant as a case study, I will discuss how territory was continuously and consciously shaped by the duke in negotiation with urban elites and nobility. An analysis of administrative sources as the accounts of the ducal receiver-general, and of the physical presence of the duke and his messengers clarifies how Brabant as a territory was made suitable for centralising ducal governance with the consent of his self-conscious subjects. This balances conceptual and representational questions of territory with a more practical approach.


Sat, March 24, 9:00 to 10:30am,

Hilton Riverside, 3rd Level – Commerce Room


Cartography and the Early Modern Archive

Karen-edis Barzman, Binghamton University, SUNY Cartography and Information Management in the Venetian State Archive

In 1460 Venice commanded governors in its territories to submit representations of cities, fortresses, and regions under their jurisdictions, making it the first state to invest in visualizing geodata and delivering them at a glance, in portable formats. The intention was to be systematic in building a map collection, but the process was uneven. This paper examines that trajectory, focusing on hand-drawn maps of borderlands and the modalities of representation they introduced. Produced by a new kind of technocrat (military engineer), the maps combined direct observation and local knowledge with skilled draftsmanship, mixing features of landscape painting with chorography. Unprecedented in information management, they also called for a new kind of literacy for a synchronized reading of incommensurate data-files (text and picture) in nested formats. I address the increasing dependence on such maps in the management of the Venetian state and the successive filing systems in which many were buried amidst all the paper.

Natalie Rothman, University of Toronto: “Revisti Dalmati confini”: Dragomans, Documentation, and Diplomacy in the Dalmatian Borderlands

This paper explores the entanglement of Venetian and Ottoman spatial knowledge-production in the Dalmatian borderlands (late sixteenth to early eighteenth centuries). It asks how the Dalmatian border was gradually fixed—both materially and epistemologically—through the efforts of dragomans (diplomatic interpreters) who shuttled across the region, commensurating Venetian and Istanbulite metropolitan understandings of sovereign space and constituting the archives thereof. Following dragomans’ itineraries and documentary practices across Ottoman and Venetian institutions, the paper traces border negotiations as they developed in the chanceries of the Governor General in Zara and the Venetian bailo in Istanbul, foregrounding the centrality of dragomans’ specialized knowledge to both these archival sites. Exploring the practices commensurating Venetian and Ottoman forms of political sense-making in Dalmatia, the paper brings together multiple scales of analysis, from hyper-local skirmishes that typified the borderlands to large-scale inter-imperial dynamics in which local conflicts were inevitably implicated, and which they also helped shape.

Luca Scholz (Stanford), Mapping Disputes in the Old Reich

The use of manuscript maps was widespread in territorial disputes throughout early modern Europe. In the Holy Roman Empire, maps were often produced during lawsuits, to spare the court a direct inspection of contested sites. Administrators used maps to support written documentation when a spatial situation was too complex to be described with words. A substantial proportion of these maps were produced in the context of border disputes. From the sixteenth century onwards, the use of manuscript maps as evidence in disputes over ownership and rights over land increased significantly and remained important throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Leading administrators and scholars agreed that maps offered a more efficient instrument for surveying territorial prerogatives than the often anecdotal reports produced by local officials. Showcasing several manuscript maps, this paper discusses the use of mapping in territorial disputes in different parts of the Old Reich and their value for historical research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *