Twilight zone

Party strife, factionalism, and feuding in the Northern Low Countries


During the final centuries of the Middle Ages the Low Countries were ridden by violent clashes between what contemporary sources called partes (Middle Dutch: partien/pertien), a word that may be translated as parties or factions, dependent on the extent of their goals, recruitment and activities. Exactly this ambiguous setting, in a twilight zone between the supra-local and the local, as well as between a ‘public’/political and a ‘private’/familial field of action, makes party strife and factionalism attractive subjects of innovative historical research, that can contribute to a better understanding of the often neglected counterweights that were build-up against the slow but relentless rise of the modern state in Western Europe during the late medieval and early modern periods.

This project’s aim is to increase our knowledge of party strife and factionalism substantially along two tracks: by extending existing knowledge geographically and thematically, and by looking for completely new angles that join in with international research. In this particular case the theme of party strife and faction quarrels will be linked to four phenomena that are generally considered to have been typical for dealing with political tension in later medieval society: feuding, bastard feudalism, the creation of bargaining networks, and popular revolts.

The project consists of three subprojects, in which three quite different variations on the theme of party strife and factionalism are developed for the last three territories in the Northern Low Countries to be formally incorporated into the Burgundian-Habsburg empire: (princeless) Friesland West of the Lauwers, the Prince-bishopric of Utrecht, and the Duchy of Guelders.



Prof.dr. P.C.M. Hoppenbrouwers

Prof.dr. H. Mol


M. Gerrits, MA

Dr. G.A. Noordzij

Drs. J. Smithuis

Last Modified: 28-10-2014