News & Activities

International Conference : Social Dynamics in Atlantic Ports, XIVth-XXIst Centuries

Michael Limberger and Anne Winter, among others, are organising an International conference titled “Social Dynamics in Atlantic Ports,  XIVth – XXIst Centuries.” It will take place in Oostende from April 24-26, 2019, and is being hosted by the FLIZ, Flanders Marine Institute. The purpose of the congress is to discuss ports, which were the main nodes in the network that framed the Atlantic world since the XVIth century. They were the focus of commercial life, maritime activities and financial life. These activities created specific social dynamics which characterized port cities. This conference will examine them from the lens of social relations and dynamics on both sides of the Atlantic, north and south. Papers will cover the following areas of interest: social and professional groups; migration and diasporas; social problems and inequality; crime and conflict; public polices; social organisations, networks, and mobility.

For a copy of the conference flyer, click here.
For a copy of the conference information sheet, click here.
For a copy of the preliminary program, click here.

To register, please go to:

Jonas Roelens – early modern sex talks

Jonas Roelens (UGent) appeared on the “De Wereld van Sofie” on January 3, 1019. He discussed how people talked about sex in the past. You can listen his interview – from ca. 1:23, at:

Anne-Laure Van Bruaene – early modern beards and masculinity

Anne-Laure Van Bruaene (UGent) recently appeared on “De Wereld van Sofie” to discuss the history of masculinity and beards. You can read about it and watch her discuss it here:

IEMH presentations on November 23 and December 20

IEMH members will be presenting their work  on November 23 and December 20, 2018.


November 23: Kevin Dekoster will discuss “From Dissecting Table to Courtroom. Medico-Legal Expertise and its Impact on the Administration of Criminal Justice in the Early Modern County of Flanders (16th-18th Centuries)​.” This will take place following the Sweet Sixteen lecture given by Christine Kooi on “Writing the Netherlandish Reformation.”
Time: 2 pm to 4 pm. Place: room 1.3 of the Plateau-Rozier building, UGent.


December 20:  Anke Verbeke will present a paper titled “The social demography of old age in Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp at the end of the eighteenth century.” C. Annemieke Romein will present a funding proposal titled “A Game of Thrones? Social Order and Governance in the Dutch Republic and the Swiss Confederation, 1576‐1701.”
Time: 2 pm to 4 pm. Place: meeting room on the third floor of the UFO (room 130.024).

International Conference: Addressing the Public Abroad

Several IEMH members are participating in the international conference, “Addressing the Public Abroad. Strategies of Cultural and Public Diplomacy in the Early Modern Habsburg World (1550-1750),” taking place in Brussels, December 6 and 7, 2018. This conference is centred on the different strategies that different players in the field of early modern foreign affairs adopted in order to influence public opinion abroad – or to gain influence abroad – and thus increase their success in the diplomatic field. In particular, the conference focusses on Habsburg lands and diplomatic strategies..
For the program and registration, please see the conference website, here.

International Conference: “Coordinating the Two Books”

Jetze Touber and Steven Vanden Broecke, in conjunction with the IEMH, are organising a conference on November 22-23, 2018, titled “Coordinating the Two Books: God’s Word and the Natural World in Early Modern Catholic Europe.”

This conference examines the configuration of confessional interests and epistemic concerns at the interface of hermeneutics and science. Current historiography does not appreciate early modern Catholic endeavours in generating knowledge about the Book of Nature and the Word of God in their own right. At best, they tend to be regarded as a stepping stone to the ‘real thing’, the Protestant study of nature as an act of devotion to God. It is high time to re-integrate early modern Catholic intellectual output in the received history of ways of managing religious and natural knowledge. This conference aims to contribute to studying Catholic’s proper trajectory in aligning natural enquiry and textual authority.

For the final programme, click here.

For a copy of the conference flyer, click here.

To register, please contact Jetze Touber at



Jonas Roelens, co-winner of scientific communication prize

We are pleased to announce that Verzwegen verlangen, co-authored by Jonas Roelens, Wannes Dupont, and Elwin Hofman, has won a prize for scientific communication, awarded by the Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België.

The voting for the public’s favourite scientific communicator will, however, remain open until November 25. You can vote at EOSWetenschap.

Sarton Chair and Sarton Medal Lectures, Robert S. Westman

This academic year, the Ghent University  Sarton Chair was awarded by our faculty to Prof. Robert S. Westman (University of California, San Diego). Prof. Westman’s work on the interaction between Early Modern science (in particular, astronomy and astrology) and broader institutional and cultural contexts, has been one of the most important influences upon the way in which historians have studied Early Modern science for the last four decades. Two lectures mark this occasion.


On Thursday, October 11, 2018, at 4 p.m. (Aula, Voldersstraat 9, 9000 Gent) Prof. Westman will receive his chair, and his lecture is titled  “Either/Or vs. Both/And: Carl Gustav Jung, Wolfgang Pauli and the Kepler-Fludd Polemic”.

On Friday, October 12, 2018, at 4 p.m. (Campus Boekentoren, Aud. Cumont) Prof. Westman will deliver his faculty medal lecture, titled  “Science and Survival: Jonas Salk, Jacob Bronowski and the ‘Two Cultures’ Question”.

Both lectures beautifully illustrate the way in which the history of science can shed a different light on the social questions that scientists working in the humanities concern themselves with. You are cordially invited to both lectures, as well as the following reception in honour of Prof. Westman. For more information, or to notify the organisers of your attendance, please contact Prof. Steven Vanden Broecke at

GEMS Lecture, 2018

The annual GEMS Lecture will be delivered this year by Prof. Craig Martin (Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia). The title of Prof. Martins contribution is “Astrological Debates in Italian Renaissance Commentaries on Aristotle’s Meteorology“. The lecture will be held on Friday, October 5, 2018, at 4 p.m. (Ghent University, Blandijn, room 100.072). You are cordially invited to this reading, as well as the following reception. For more information, please contact Prof. Steven Vanden Broecke at .

International Conference: Law & Order. The role of the institutions in creating the legislation in the Low Countries (1500-1700)

International Conference

Law & Order. The role of the institutions in creating the legislation in the Low Countries (1500-1700s)

18 October 2018
University Saint-Louis – Brussels
43 Jardin Botanique Bd., 1000 Brussels Room P61

The history of legislation should not be limited to the study of legislative acts’ content. Legislation can clearly be seen as an instrument of early modern governments, but it must also be considered as a tool of communication between those that rule and their subjects. Understood as a communication process, the study of the early modern legislation decisively opens up a new angle in this field of research. Therefore, it must be realized that the history of legislation should be considered through a plural and multifactorial approach.

Amongst the possible angles, we have chosen:

The decision-making process should certainly receive attention. The study of the early modern legislation must necessarily echo the decision-making process by which a simple act’s draft becomes an edict ready to be proclaimed and/or printed. Considering the study of the decision-making process implies to question the value of advices and deliberations taking place before the edict’s promulgation. To what extent did the legislator rely on advice issued by provincial or local authorities? How was managed the flow of communication between different institutions or between different jurisdictions? This means mapping this communication, not just on a central level, but also provincially and locally. Another element, complementary to the first, is the publication of legislation. It has always been essential to ensure a good dissemination and good publicity when promulgating legislation. The authority of the government was at stake.

If the oral dissemination of the law during the Middle Ages is a well-studied topic, we cannot say the same regarding the impact of print on oral practices linked to the law’s publication. For instance, to what extent have the rulers pushed to use the printed version of an edict to complement an oral announcement?? Furthermore, the question of the (in)effectiveness of legislation should also be asked. By considering ex-post-analysis methods we can judge the (non-)applicability of legislation, arguments of subjects regarding disobedience or mobilisation of legislation in court. Legislation should thus be placed in a social context, as social phenomena can be enforced. It is therefore also fruitful to question the interconnectedness and reciprocal influence of legal sources. One might think about the customary law incorporated in legislative acts or foreign influences.

With this workshop, our aim is to draw attention to specific territories, i.e. the Habsburg Netherlands and the United Provinces. Although following diverging paths from 1560’s onwards, these areas do share a common legal past making early modern legislation interesting to study. Therefore it is important and even necessary to be able to study these two political spaces together in order to be able to highlight specific practices, both those that form a common ground and those that make the areas unique.

By bringing together researchers from Belgium and the Netherlands, this one-day workshop intends to shed light on a poorly studied phenomenon but genuinely key for the early modern period.


9.30 Welcome


9.55 Introduction


10.00 Key-note
Jorgen Mührmann-Lund (Århus) – Interstate influences on early modern police ordinances


10.45 Session 1
Chair : Louis Sicking (Leiden/ VUAmsterdam)

Marie-Charlotte Le Bailly (Red Star Line Museum) – “De publicatie van den niewe ordonnantie”. The making and printing of ordinances and instructions for the Court of Holland, 1462-1811

Arthur der Weduwen (St. Andrews) – Publishing and Distributing Government Print in the Dutch Golden Age.


11.45 Posters session
Kevin DeKoster (UGent); Lies van Aelst(UU/Wethoudersvereniging); Inès Glogowski (VUB/UCLouvain).


12.00 Lunch


13.15 Session 2

Chair : Griet Vermeesch (VUB)

Xavier Rousseaux (FNRS/UCLouvain) and Romain Parmentier (UCLouvain) – Touchy Questions ? Decriminalizing the body in the Austrian Netherlands : the example of Suicide and Torture

Nicolas Simon (FNRS/UCLouvain/USL-B) – (In)effectiveness of the legislation in the Habsburg Netherlands (1598-1665)

Annemieke Romein (UGhent/EUR) – Establishing and implementing security- regulations and ‘Bona Politia’ in Flanders (1579-1701). Concepts, Normative Texts, and Instruments.


15.00 Tea break


15.15 Conclusion
René Vermeir (Ghent)


15.45 Discussion & Future Prospects
Annemieke Romein (UGent/EUR) & Jorgen Mührmann-Lund (Århus)


16.00 End



Dr. Nicolas Simon :
Dr. Annemieke Romein :


Conference sponsored by

Transkribus Workshop

On 21 September 2018, we want to organise a first workshop on Transkribus. The location will normally be the UGent, pending confirmation, initially planned from 13:00 until 16:00, with the possibility to join us for a drink afterwards (at your own expense).  
The aim of this workshop is to offer a hands-on Transkribus session of three hours. It will be delivered by Dr. Louise Seaward (University College London) of the Bentham Project. Transkribus is a free and open platform for automated recognition, transcription and searching of historical documents, using Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The workshop is aimed at scholars who are involved in the transcription and editing of historical documents. It already has promising results, as the Huygens ING has already reached a 98% recognition-rate on printed texts from the 17th and 18th century. Hence our aim to offer some necessary first training to get to grips with the platform and the technology to be able to use and to apply it in our own research.
Participation is not limited to a specific university. Registration is free but please register by sending an email to Do remember: you will need to bring your own laptop to this workshop. If you have already registered, there is no need to send us another email.
Please note that for this first workshop the number of participants is limited and registrations will be accepted in the order of arrival. We will work with a waiting list and if there is enough interest, we will soon organise another workshop. Let us know if you do not want your data to be stored for this purpose. In addition, a workshop on Transkribus within the framework of the Doctoral Schools is being planned (with the necessary credits for those that need this). Please let us know if you are interested, then we can work together with the Transkribus team to get such an event organised.
Thank you for your interest,
Kind regards,
Nina Lamal (FWO post-doctoral researcher, University of Antwerp)
Annemieke Romein (NWO-Rubicon post-doctoral researcher, Ghent University/Erasmus University Rotterdam)


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