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Listing Space in the Late Medieval Low Countries

Thu, March 22, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Harrah's Hotel, 2nd Level - Fulton Street Salon II


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.