Imagining a territory…

Constructions and representations of late medieval Brabant


This NWO project analyses how the interaction between prince, nobles and urban elites influenced the construction, perception, and representation of territories in late medieval Europe, before cartography and state formation turned boundaries and territories into more fixed (but still changeable) geographical entities. The test case will be the Duchy of Brabant, which still has historical and territorial significance for many people in present-day Belgium and the Netherlands.

Central to this research project is the fluidity and multiplicity of the concept of territory, especially in a time before the availability of reliable scale maps. To disentangle the divergent, though sometimes overlapping, conceptions of what exactly Brabant was (or should be) in the eyes of ducal, noble andĀ urban actors, this project takes a twofold approach. On the one hand, we will define ducal, noble, and urban conceptions of Brabant mainly through administrative sources, particularly those of the fourteenth century that reflect a turning point in the capturing of territory. On the other hand, we will explicate how political actors envisaged and visualised territory in a wide range of relevant architectural, heraldic, cartographic, narrative, and administrative sources. In this way, the project provides a completely new perspective on the concept of territory in the late medieval period.


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