My research interests include early modern religion, state formation and aristocratic networks, especially in the Low Countries, France and the Spanish Empire.
My research began with an investigation of the sixteenth-century inquisition in the Low Countries, and the personality of the general-inquisitor Michael Baius. This led to a broader evaluation of the 'general pardon', an amnesty measure which was proclaimed several times during the Dutch Revolt and in which Michael Baius was involved.
My dissertation (Leuven, 2008, partially published by AUP 2012) on resistance and reconciliation during the Dutch Revolt (1564-1598) argues that peacemaking was an integral part of Habsburg politics. Time and again during this conflict, which resembled a civil war, both the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs made reconciliatory offers (also in the religious sphere) or started peace negotiations. Before, during and after these negotiations, the nobility played an important role in networking between the loyal and the rebel parties concerned.
Currently, I am researching the strategies of noble families at the border between the Burgundian-Habsburg composite state and the French monarchy from 1477 to 1632. Generally, scholarship has addressed the patronage of one sovereign towards the nobility, yet because of widespread property ownership and family tactics, noble lineages usually maintained relations with various sovereigns, which profoundly influenced their choices of rebellion and reconciliation, especially during the Wars of Religion.
I am directing two research projects:
* The making of transregional Catholicism. Print culture in the church province of Cambrai (1559-1659), together with Johan Verberckmoes (co-promotor), and Alexander Soetaert (PhD-student)
* Transregional marriages and mixed identities (1659-1708). Hispano-Flemish Elites in the Habsburg Netherlands, together with Werner Thomas (promotor), and Sophie Verreyken (PhD-student)
I am supervising:
* the PhD-project of Bram De Ridder
Strategies of border management: the evolution of the boundaries between the Habsburg Netherlands and the Dutch Republic, 1580-1660