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.
The European Horizon2020 research project “Religious Toleration and Peace” (RETOPEA) investigates how experiences with historical peace treaties and toleration in Europe and globally can contribute to greater tolerance and understanding of religious diversity, especially among teenagers.
More information will follow. Kick-off meeting in Mainz, Institut für Europäische Geschichte, May 24-25, 2018.
As an early modern historian, I participated in the commemoration of 500 years Reformation in 2017, with chapters in collective volumes, entries in encyclopedias, a now digital exhibit with rare books, blogs and interviews, a glossy public history magazine, a public debate, and last but not least, a Leuven doctorate honoris causa to the Lutheran church historian Theodor Dieter.
This project examines the crucial role of the Cambrai borderlands between the Low Countries and France in the making of early modern Catholicism.» Publications project members Transregional Catholicism (PDF, 253.46 Kb)
This four-year project funded by the Research Foundation Flanders examines the conundrum why burials during the Dutch 'Wars of Religion' seem to have passed more peacefully than in contemporary France.