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Territory as Practice: The Incessant Construction of the Late Medieval Duchy of Brabant

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


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.