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Margit Thøfner

In early modern Europe the making of commemorative monuments for the deceased is a common and standardized practice with specific samples. Prevalently it is the wives task to — in agreement with the dying — attend to the memorials and thus prepare for death. The commemorative monuments are not only due to yoke the time present and hope for an era of grace in afterlife. Often the figures of chubby child-angels point to the cycle of birth, death an rebirth. Moreover the monument-makers not only try to visualize the artistic embodiment in religious context, but also the deceased as an individual.

Margit Thøfner


This article is concerned with one particular phase of the history of the ancient Royal Library in Brussels. It investigates how the Library developed during the first two decades of the reign of the Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella; an investigation permitted by the existence of an inventory compiled between 1614 and 1617. A substantial part of the article thus consists of an annotated transcript of the relevant parts of this inventory. On this basis, the article demonstrates that the accessions policy of the Royal Library in Brussels went through a significant transformation during the period in question: the Library changed from being a wide-ranging academic resource towards a more narrowly religious and recreational scope. However, as the article argues, this change was probably not caused by the Brussels Court of Albert and Isabella. Rather, it was due to the suppliers of the Library, the chief printing-houses and authors of the Southern Netherlands. Thus, whilst the 1614-17 inventory is of historical interest itself, it also offers important evidence of how a certain social group perceived the Brussels Court.

A Common Art

Urban Ceremonial in Antwerp and Brussels during and after the Dutch Revolt


Margit Thøfner

This richly illustrated and ground-breaking volume reassesses the relationship between art, material culture and politics in the early modern period. Focusing on festivals and processions, it shows that these played a highly significant role in the life of early modern city-dwellers. In particular, there was a flourishing of urban ceremony in the southern Low Countries, in the great cities of Brabant, in the wake of the Dutch Revolt. This book traces the origins of that flourishing in the political ructions of the 1560-1580s. It also shows that, contrary to received scholarly opinion, early modern urban festivals simultaneously involved and appealed to ordinary people. It was a common and collaborative art form, a way of soliciting broad popular support for civic and princely governments alike.