Renovating the church: material culture, Habsburg ritual and early Counter-Reformation experiments in the Low Countries (c. 1535-1585)

01 January 2020 → 31 December 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Cultural history
    • Early modern history
    • Painting and drawing
    • Sculpture
Material culture Public Ritual Counter-Reformation
Project description

In the sixteenth century, the Protestant Reformation seriously challenged Catholicism According to the communis opinio, the Catholic Church only found an adequate answer towards the end of the century, when it launched a coordinated campaign that implemented the tenets of the Council of Trent (1545-63) In the historiography on the Low Countries, the Fall of Antwerp (1585) is usually designated as the starting point, which coincides with the political separation of the Habsburg Low Countries and the Dutch Republic This project challenges this view by investigating Catholic experiments in countering the Reformation in the Low Countries in the transitional period from c 1535 to c 1585

Our interdisciplinary project gives centre stage to the church building, more particularly to the interiors of the cathedrals, collegiate churches and main parish churches of the larger cities Our aim is to learn and understand how Catholic elites (prince, courtiers, bishops, canons, churchwardens) invested in material culture through a broad range of artistic media We will pay special attention to the dynamic interplay between stylistic experiments and the ritual uses of objects during Habsburg ceremonies Through this double focus on material culture and political ritual, we intend not only to revise the chronology of the Counter-Reformation in the Low Countries, but also to develop new interdisciplinary methodologies for (art) historical research