Book Series Studies in European Urban History (1100-1800), vol. 37

The Seven Sorrows Confraternity of Brussels

Drama, Ceremony, and Art Patronage (16th-17th Centuries)

Emily S. Thelen (ed)

  • Pages: 168 p.
  • Size:178 x 254 mm
  • Illustrations:25 b/w, 4 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2015

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55333-7
  • Paperback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55431-0
  • E-book
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The Seven Sorrows Devotion in its urban context:  A ground-breaking interdisciplinary study of the Seven Sorrows confraternity of Brussels


“(...) een rijkdom aan materiaal, die zonder enige twijfel stimuleert tot verdere reflectie en studie.” (Ruben Suykerbuyk, in BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 133, 03.09.2018)


Emily S. Thelen is a musicologist specialising in music and liturgy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in the Low Countries. She received her PhD from Princeton University and most recently has held a post-doctoral fellowship at KU Leuven.


Devotion to the Virgin of Seven Sorrows flourished in the Low Countries in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries under the auspices of the court of Philip the Fair. Quickly becoming a widespread phenomenon, the Seven Sorrows devotion generated dramatic plays, artistic works, music, and numerous miracles. Underlying the popularity of the devotion was the network of confraternity chapters dedicated to the Virgin of Sorrows. Of these chapters, the Seven Sorrows confraternity of Brussels was singled out, receiving the special patronage of Philip the Fair, Maximilian I, and Margaret of Austria. Taking the confraternity of Brussels as a focal point, this volume examines the Seven Sorrows devotion in its urban context. The essays of this collection explore the artistic, musical, and dramatic products of the Seven Sorrows devotion as created in and by the civic networks and artistic channels of Brussels. The structure of the confraternity and its historical importance for the city are also demonstrated. As an important counterpoint to work in Italian confraternity studies, this volume is the first interdisciplinary study of a confraternity in the Low Countries in English.


Emily S. Thelen
Preface & Chronology

Foundation History

Brecht Dewilde & Bram Vannieuwenhuyze
A Tangible Past. History Writing and Property Listing by the Brussels Seven Sorrows Confraternity, c. 1685

Susie Speakman Sutch
Patronage, Foundation History, and Ordinary Believers: The Membership Registry of the Brussels Seven Sorrows Confraternity

Drama and Ceremony

Remco Sleiderink
The Brussels Plays of the Seven Sorrows

Emily S. Thelen
Music and Liturgy of the Seven Sorrows Confraternity of Brussels

Art Patronage

Edmond Roobaert & Trisha Rose Jacobs
An Uncelebrated Patron of Brussels Artists: St Gorik’s Confraternity of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows (1499‑516)

Dagmar Eichberger
Visualizing the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin: Early Woodcuts and Engravings in the Context of Netherlandish Confraternities

Tine L. Meganck & Sabine van Sprang
Reforming the Seven Sorrows: Paintings by Wensel Cobergher and Theodoor van Loon for the Brussels Chapel of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows