Book Series Bibliothèque de la Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique, vol. 101

Church, Censorship and Reform in the Early Modern Habsburg Netherlands

Violet Soen, Dries Vanysacker, Wim François (eds)

  • Pages: 240 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:14 b/w, 3 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2017

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56751-8
  • Paperback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56752-5
  • E-book
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“Specialists in early modern Catholicism and the history of the Low Countries will be well rewarded with the rich detail in these essays.” (Jesse Spohnholz, in Reading Religion, 05 July 2018)

“(...) specialists will take pleasure in the robust research substantiating each chapter.” (Silke Muylaert, in BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 133, 01.10.2018)

“Complessivamente i contributi migliorano la conoscenza del periodo e della complessa realtà istituzionale e pure da casi circoscritti si può passare a panorami più ampi.” (Michaela Valente, in Archivio Storico Italiano, 176/657, 2018, p. 600)

“Der Band bietet einen lohnenden Einblick in die Methoden und Archivbestände, mit denen die fragmentierte frühneuzeitliche Gesetzgebung, Spannungen zwischen weltlichen und geistlichen Autoritäten sowie die Vielfalt innerhalb der katholischen Kirche in den (nördlichen der) südlichen Niederlande erfasst werden können.” (Sonja Kmec, in Hémecht, 4, 2019, p. 503)

“One of the strongpoints of this volume is that it demonstrates so much careful and cutting-edge research. The contributors, many of whom are young historians with fresh perspectives, build their conclusions on ample and often previously unexplored or underexplored primary-source material (…) In the end we are left with a stimulating and valuable work for scholars of Catholic reform, book history, and the early modern Low Countries (…)” (Jonas van Tol, in Renaissance Quarterly, LXXII/4, 2019, p. 1516)


Violet Soen is Professor of Early Modern History, Dries Vanysacker and Wim François are Professors of History of the Church and Theology, all at the Catholic University of Leuven.


In recent years, historiography has come to rethink the traditional account of a state-backed Counter-Reformation in the early modern Habsburg Netherlands. Hence, this volume takes a refreshing perspective on the themes of church and reform in this region from the late fifteenth century onwards. The first part interrogates the dynamics of repression and censorship in matters of religion. Six chapters underline that this censorship was not only state- or church-driven, but performed by a multitude of actors, ranging from professional organisations to university theologians. Throughout the Ancient Regime, this resulted in an institutionally and regionally fragmented policy, opening margins of manoeuver for those concerned. A second part focuses on more internal impulses for Catholic Reform in the sixteenth century, especially those created by the Council of Trent. As such, this volume helps to contextualise the Counter-Reformation of the seventeenth century in a long-term perspective, identifying the myriad of actors and motives behind this Catholic revival.


Violet Soen, Dries Vanysacker and Wim François
Church, Censorship and Reform: Questions and New Answers Regarding the Early Modern Habsburg Netherlands

Part I: Censorship & Religion

Renaud Adam
The Profession of Printer in the Southern Netherlands before the Reformation. Considerations on Professional, Religious and State Legislations (1473-1520)

Grantley McDonald
‘Burned to Dust’. Censorship and repression of theological literature in the Habsburg Netherlands during the 1520s

Arjan Van Dixhoorn
The Claim to Expertise and Doctrinal Authority in the Struggle for Anti-Heresy Policies in the Habsburg Netherlands, 1520s-1560s

Els Agten
Ottavio Mirto Frangipani, first papal nuncio to Flanders (1596-1606) and his thoughts on book censorship

Gerrit Vanden Bosch
Censorship in the archdiocese of Malines (1559-1795)

César Manrique Figueroa
Sixteenth-century Spanish editions printed in Antwerp facing censorship in the Hispanic World. The case of the Antwerp printers Nutius and Steelsius

Part II: Church & Reform

Violet Soen and Aurelie Van de Meulebroucke
Vanguard Tridentine Reform in the Habsburg Netherlands: The Episcopacy of Robert de Croÿ, Bishop of Cambrai (1519–1556)

Dries Vanysacker
The Church Province of Malines and its Official Printings (1559/1607–1613): A State of the Art of the Implementation of the Council of Trent in the Netherlands

Michal Bauwens
Restoration and Reform of the Parish after Trent: The Case of St James in Ghent (1561–1630

Annelies Somers
Making a Virtue out of Necessity? The Chapter of St Pharahild in Ghent and the Decrees of the Council of Trent (1584–1614)

Nicolas Simon
The Council of Trent and its Impact on Philip II’s Legislation in the Habsburg Netherlands (1580–1598)

Tom Bervoets
Caught between Compromise and Conflict: The Establishment and Institutional Development of the Ecclesiastical Court(s) in the Early Modern Archdiocese of Malines