[Paper:] Spaces of Many-Faced Majesty. Heraldic Church Interior and the Redefinition of Rule During the Dutch Revolt (Steven Thiry)

Funerary 'cabinet d'armes' of Charles V in the Brussels church of St Gudula, 1558 [copyright Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam]

Funerary ‘cabinet d’armes’ of Charles V in the Brussels church of St Gudula, 1558 [copyright Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam]

It is commonplace that princely ensigns armorial embodied dynastic continuity and rightful territorial possession. Either impressing elites in an exclusive palace setting or showered upon the masses by the ephemeral machinery of festive spectacle, they are usually considered plain instruments of worldly domination. However, their iconography was not always that uncomplicated. The Spanish Monarchy’s heraldic patrimony in particular consisted of various symbolic conventions, evoking a strenuous history of state formation and intertwined interests. Such precarious and potentially conflicting merger of different constituents found an even more intricate expression in the great public churches of Brabant and Flanders. Within these sacred confines, profane signs of century-old dynastic bonds interacted with a variety of communal markers, as well as with the attributes of supreme Majesty. As the venue of significant dynastic rites, church interior was temporarily transformed into an ultimate sanctum of Burgundian-Habsburg power, while retaining its multi-semantic guise. Yet, in times of royal contestation and full civil war – upsetting the Low Countries between 1566 and 1621 − waves of iconoclasm, dissident regimes and a strong reassertion of Habsburg rule engulfed this rich legacy. The present contribution will explore how both local (dissenting) stakeholders and the government actively exploited this ambiguous armorial presence in the realm eternal to reset the limits of royal authority.

Steven Thiry (1987) is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), affiliated to the University of Antwerp (Power in History. Centre for Political History). His dissertation (2015), entitled Matter(s) of State. Heraldic Display and Discourse in the Early Modern Monarchy (c. 1480-1650), dealt with the – sometimes subversive – role of heraldic imagery in the construction of royal authority. On top of that, he has published research on dynastic ceremonial and political symbolism in the Burgundian-Habsburg Netherlands and in France. He is currently studying the impact of (medieval) antiquarianism on political strategies during the Dutch Revolt (1570-1648).


 

The paper will be given at the international workshop: Heraldry in Medieval and Early Modern State-Rooms: Towards a Typology of Heraldic Programmes in Spaces of Self-Representation – Münster, Germany, 16-18 March 2016
Cite the article as: Heraldica Nova, "[Paper:] Spaces of Many-Faced Majesty. Heraldic Church Interior and the Redefinition of Rule During the Dutch Revolt (Steven Thiry)", in: Heraldica nova. Medieval Heraldry in social and cultural-historical perspectives (blog on Hypotheses.org), published: 07/03/2016, Internet: http://heraldica.hypotheses.org/4421.

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