About HOST / HOST research programme

Cities have been attributed a crucial role in Europe’s history over the past millennium: as engines of specialization, commercialization, industrialization, social differentiation and individualization, as determining factors in processes of state formation, as migration nodes and cradles of new ideas, art forms and social relations, and as hallmarks of modernity. Notwithstanding a wide acknowledgement of cities’ roles as catalysts of social change, the actual dynamics of change remain elusive, as do the interactions between dynamics of change on the one hand and the observed resilience of the urban fabric on the other hand. European cities’ capacity to harness their own transformative power is indeed a remarkable achievement in global historical perspective, which has manifested itself in an overall resilience of the urban network and the urban condition since Europe’s High Middle Ages. The question of how the interactions between diverse social groups shaped urban dynamics of change and stability forms the basic point of departure for HOST’s research agenda.

The spatial and temporal setting of HOST’s research agenda is that of the cities of Brabant and Flanders from the late Middle Ages to the long nineteenth century, two core regions of the Southern Low Countries characterized by high levels of urbanization, commercialization and early industrialization, and marked variation in urban structures and profound upswings and downswings in economic development. Drawing on complementary expertise in the social and economic history of urban Brabant and Flanders, HOST’s central research agenda revolves around the interactions between social inequality, migration and social relations in a long-term and comparative perspective. By adopting a long-term perspective from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, it is possible to dissociate analytically the impact of long-term structural transformations from conjunctural effects when exploring the dynamics of urban change and stability, while the implementation of an internationally comparative perspective allows to establish the generality and typicality of the urban developments studied. On a social scale, the HOST research agenda adopts a broad scope to allow for a focus on the interactions between urban elites, middling groups and the labouring poor.

Research Group HOST

HOST Seminars

The bi-weekly HOST seminars are intended primarily to discuss work in progress of HOST team members. In addition, we gladly welcome researchers from other teams and universities to discuss recent papers that have particular relevance to ongoing research within HOST. Papers are sent to all team members one week in advance of the seminar. Seminars take place from late August until the Christmas break, and from February until the summer break. If you would like to attend one or more seminars and/or if you would like to discuss some of your recent work, please contact Anne Winter.

Upcoming academic year 2019-2020

To be announced.


Monday 10 September 2018

- Ellen Debackere (UA & VUB) and Anne Winter (VUB), ‘Poor migrants between belonging and expulsion’

- Griet Vermeesch (VUB), ‘De poortwachters van de stedelijke rechtspraak’

Monday 24 September 2018

- Bart Lambert (VUB), ‘Migration, Gender and Economic Opportunity in England during the Later Middle Ages’

Monday 8 October 2018

- Wouter Ryckbosch (VUB), ‘Governance, regulation and the state’

Monday 22 October 2018

- Rik Vosters (VUB), ‘Historical sociolinguistics: a view from below’

Monday 19 November 2018

-  Anke Verbeke (VUB), 'The social demography of old age, 1797'

- Yasmina Zian (ULB)

Monday 3 December 2018

Bart Lambert (VUB), ‘Citizenry and Nationality: immigrants and Urban Politics in Later Medieval England’

Monday 17 December 2018

- Gerrit Verhoeven (UA)

Monday 18 February 2019

- Oscar Gelderblom (UU) and Joost Jonker (UvA-IISH), ‘Growing apart together. Patterns of private debt in the Northern and Southern Low Countries, 1500-1780’

Monday 4 March 2019

Jelten Baguet (VUB), 'Urban patriciate or open elite? The ruling class of sixteenth-century Ghent'

- Wout Saelens (VUB), ‘Energy and economy in eighteenth-century Ghent. A view from the consumer side.’

Monday 18 March 2019

Kaat Capelle (VUB), 'Familiale structuren in testamenten'

Peter Solat (Vesalius College) & Liam Kennedy (Queen's University Belfast), 'The famine that wasn't? 1799-1801 in Ireland'

Monday 1 April 2019

Anne Winter (VUB) and Hilde Greefs (UA), ‘The democratization of long-distance migration? Foreign newcomers to Antwerp, 1850-1910’

Monday 6 May 2019

Anke Verbeke (VUB), 'Last days. Social networks and formal care provisions at the deathbed of urban elderly in Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp, 1797'

Monday 20 mei 2019

- Tine de Moor (UU), 'Shared patterns in long-term dynamics of commons institutions’

Matthijs Degraeve (VUB), 'Urban industrial districts on the move. Locational patterns of housebuilders in Brussels (1830-1970)'

Monday 3 June 2019

Arie Van Steensel (RUG) – 'Social and Economic Governance in Late Medieval Leiden'

- Anne Winter (VUB) and Wouter Ryckbosch (VUB), ‘Stedelijke nijverheden en ambachten in 18de-eeuws Vlaanderen & Brabant: Een verkenning aan de hand van de Oostenrijkse enquêtes’

Monday 24 June 2019

Gijs Dreijer (VUB), ‘Southern European merchants before the Great Council (1511-1542): a case study of maritime transport’


18 September 2017
- Griet Vermeesch
Facing illegitimacy in eighteenth-century Antwerp. A mixed bag of experiences in shifting contexts.
- Esther Beeckaert, Sander Berghmans, Dieter Bruneel, Hanne Cottyn, Pieter De Reu, Marjolein Schepers, Tobit Vandamme and Sven Van Melkebeke
TSEG essay competition: Economic and social history in the next ten years

2 October 2017
- Frederik Buylaert
Constructing the Flemish nobility

16 October 2017
- Pieter De Graef (UAntwerpen) and Wouter Ronsijn (UGhent) 
From home food production to professional farming. A social continuum of urban agriculture: 19th-century Oudenaarde and Kortrijk, Belgium
- Wouter Ryckbosch and Wout Saelens (UAntwerpen)
Industrialisation and the 'energy revolutions' in Flanders and Holland: the energy regimes of Leiden and Ghent compared, 1600-1850

30 October 2017
- Esther Beeckaert 
Growing social spending. The funding of poor relief in Flemish village communities during the crisis of the 1840s, a comparative analysis

13 November 2017
- Matthijs Degraeve and Jelena Dobbels
Spatial strategies of general contractors in the construction industry. An analysis of the industrial sites of the Louis De Waele enterprise in Brussels (1866-1988)
- Heidi Deneweth
Rebuilding and renovating early modern Leiden. Opportunities and risks for the building trades

27 November 2017
- Aniek Smit
Comparing the Belgian and Dutch (post-)colonial migration circuit
- Vitaly Volkov
Mobility policy in Antwerp, 1965-1985

11 December 2017
- Kaat Capelle (Metajuridica, VUB)
The ‘constrained’ or ‘self-limiting patriarchy’. Wives, household authority and law in sixteenth-century Antwerp
- Janna Everaert
Political Elites and the Mastery over Urban Space in Late Medieval Antwerp



19 February 2018
- Josje Schnitzeler (Utrecht University)
Private money, public oversight. Orphan chambers of Holland in a European context.
- Anke Verbeke
'Wat bedroeft lot het is oud, stijf ende arm te wesen': coping strategieen in verzoekschriften van verarmde Brusselse ouderen, ca. 1750-1850.

5 March 2018
- Matthijs Korevaar (Maastricht University), Thies Lindenthal (University of Cambridge) and Piet Eichholz (Maastricht University)
500 years of urban rents, housing quality and affordability in Europe.
- Frederik Dhondt (Faculty of Law, VUB)
A pragmatic Utopian? Saint-Pierre and the practical diplomacy after the Peace of Utrecht.

19 March 2018
- Laura Nys (Ghent University/ Department of Criminology, VUB) 
"Ik was kwaad en ik kon mij niet meer houden." Zelfbeheersing in het Rijksopvoedingsgesticht voor 'weerspannige' jongens te Mol, 1927-1960.
- Torsten Feys
Riding the rails of deportation: the impact of railroads on border controls and expulsion practices.

16 April 2018
- Davide Cristoferi (Ghent University)
Coping with the crisis: the Sienese state and the development of Transhumance in the Late Middle Ages (Southern Tuscany, 1353-1419).

30 April 2018
- Nick van den Broeck
'One has to know the roots of evil in order to reduce them’. Explaining rural poor relief practices: the Campine and Coastal area in the Southern Low Countries compared during the first quarter of the 19th century.

14 May 2018
- Ayfer Erkul
“Onder dwang toe te dienen: ½ melk, 2 eieren, 10st suiker”. Hongerstakingen in Belgische gevangenissen: een verkennend onderzoek (1920-1940).
 - Ans Vervaeke
Penny-wise or pound foolish? The cost of initiating a court case in the eighteenth-century civil courts of the Franc of Bruges.

11 June 2018
- Janna Everaert
Elite Entanglement, Economic Growth, Policy and Lobbying during Antwerp’s Golden Age (1490-1550).
- Kristof Loockx (University of Antwerp & VUB)
From sail to steam: maritime wages in the port of Antwerp, 1850-1914.

25 June 2018
- Ward Leloup
Locating foreign artisans in the urban spaces of Bruges and Mechlin during the 16th century



Semester I: September 2016 - January 2017

3 October 2016
- Dries Tys
The market square in medieval towns in the (Southern) Low Countries. Urban life, form and identity between social practice and iconographic identity. 

 17 October 2016
- Frederik Buylaert and Sam Geens (Antwerp University)
Social Mobility in the Medieval Low Countries.

 31 October 2016
- Nick Deschacht (KU Leuven) and Anne Winter
Persistence and Transition: Municipal Migration Levels in the Provinces of Flanders and Antwerp, 1796-1846. 

 14 November 2016
- Filip Van Roosbroeck (UAntwerpen – Huygens Instituut)
Veepest in de 18de-eeuwse Nederlanden. 
- Inneke Baatsen (Antwerp University)
A haste for better taste? Fleshing out the material imprints of Bruges dining culture in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. 

 28 November 2016
- Margo De Koster and Barbara Deruytter (Ghent University)
Police-Public Relations in Transition in Antwerp, 1840s–1914.
- Thijs Lambrecht (UGhent) 
Village by-laws and the regulation of gleaning in the Southern Low Countries and Northern France, late 13th-late 16th centuries.

Semester II: February - June 2017

20 February 2017
- Jan Naert (Ghent University)
"Ventre affamé n’a pas d’oreilles” Lokale besturen en voedselpolitiek: interacties en populaire percepties in bezet België en Noord-Frankrijk tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog
- Heidi Deneweth, Ward Leloup & Mathijs Speecke (Ghent University)
Visualising urban social change, Bruges (Belgium) 1300-1700

6 March 2017
- Manuela Martini (Université Lyon 2)
Brotherhood and immigrant business from Southern to North-Western Europe in the 20th Century 

20 March 2017
- Lies Vervaet (Ghent University)
Female wage labour in Coastal Flanders (15th-16th century) 

24 April 2017
- Jordan Claridge (LSE, London School of Economics and Political Science)
(Real) Wages in Late Medieval England: Evidence from Agriculture 

22 May 2017
- Thomas Verbruggen (Antwerp University)
De negentiende-eeuwse transportrevolutie en veranderingen in de rekruteringsgebieden voor dienstmeiden van Antwerpen en Brussel, 1850-1910 

26 June 2017
- Marjolein Schepers
Over de grenzen van de gemeenschap. Onderhandelingen over het behoren tot de lokale samenleving in de Lage Landen, 1750-1850 
- Janna Everaert
Urban and Rural Elites: From Separate to Closely Entangled Worlds - The Cases of Late Medieval Flanders and Brabant


31 August 2015
- Frederik Buylaert and Jelle Haemers (KU Leuven)
Record Keeping and Status Performance in the Early Modern Low Countries.

28 September 2015
- Jelle De Rock (Ghent University)
Turning Away from the City. Depictions of a Rural Ideal.
- Marjolein Schepers
(Post-) colonial migration and membership regimes in Belgium, 1945-1972.

12 October 2015
- Nick Van den Broeck and Tim Soens (Antwerp University)
Graancrisis en peasant-landbouw. Een socio-institutionele analyse van de subsistentiecrisis van 1480-82 in het Land van Turnhout.
- Torsten Feys
Transatlantic migration movements in the long nineteenth century. 

26 October 2015
- Jeroen Puttevils (Antwerp University) and Wout Van de Sompele (Antwerp University)
Desired objects: lottery prizes in the Low Countries, 1440-1600.
- Jan Dumolyn (Ghent University) and Jelle Haemers (KULeuven)
Hard Monday, Bad Wednesday and Good Friday. Revolt, Social Memory and Liturgical Time in the Later Medieval Low Countries.

 16 November 2015
- Frederik Buylaert and Mario Damen (UvA, Amsterdam)
From Periphery to Centre and Back Again: Elite Transformations in Malines (14th-16th Centuries).
- Janna Everaert
A trail of trails. "Flemish" networks in sixteenth-century Valladolid and Medina del Campo.

30 November 2015
FWO proposals.

22 February 2016
- Bert de Munck (Antwerp University) and Griet Vermeesch
Early modern urban citizenship in the Low Countries (project proposal).

7 March 2016
- Laurence van Goethem
Premodern Impostors. Identity Fraud in the Low Countries during the Ancien Regime.
- Nick van den Broeck, Anne Winter and Thijs Lambrecht (UGhent)
Preindustrial welfare between regional economies and local regimes: Rural poor relief in Flanders around 1800.

21 March 2016
- Marjolein Schepers
Welfare and the regulation of labour mobility. The concordat of Ypres, 1750-1789.
- Ward Leloup
Een grafelijke stadstichting langs het Zwin: het ontstaan van Sluis en de commerciele tegenstellingen tussen Brugge en de Vlaamse graaf aan het einde van de dertiende eeuw.

18 April 2016
- Jaco Zuijderduijn (Leiden University)
Surviving the game. Managing the retirement business in pre-modern Amsterdam and Leiden.
Torsten Feys
America's first Refugee Crisis: From American tourists to poor little Belgians.

 2 May 2016
- Ans Vervaeke
A deliberate choice? The impact of the social and economic environment on the 'uses of justice' (Franc of Bruges, 1746-1751).
- Boris Horemans
Apprentices in the Brussels Four Crowned Martyrs Guild: 1659-1705.

30 May 2016
- Jaap Evert Abrahamse (Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed, NL), Heidi Deneweth, Menne Kosian (Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed, NL) and Erik Schmitz (Municipal Archives Amsterdam, NL)
Swaying fortunes. Real estate strategies of building entrepreneurs in the urban extensions of Amsterdam during the Golden Age.
- Sally Chambers (Ghent University)
Presentation of DARIAH: Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities.

 13 June 2016
- Ruth Wauters
Arriving at the arrival neighbourhood? Spatial logic of the arrival of foreign newcomers in Brussels in 1880.

27 June 2016
- Frederik Buylaert 
Chivalry, seigneurial war, and the state in the Burgundian-Habsburg Low Countries
Hilmi Kaçar (UGhent)
Making Istanbul: conquest, reconstruction and Ottomanization

Miet Adriaens

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Frederik Buylaert

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