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Open Access ‘Willingly We Follow a Gentle Leader . . .’: Joyous Entries into Antwerp

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‘Willingly We Follow a Gentle Leader . . .’: Joyous Entries into Antwerp

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the ritual circumstances that surrounded the first visit of an early modern European ruler to a subject city. Customarily, this was a carefully choreographed and highly formalised encounter. In the city of Antwerp in the southern or Habsburg Netherlands, which serves as a highly apposite case study, such visits were known as 'Blijde Intreden' or 'Joyous Entries'. In Antwerp, mutual oaths were taken twice, once outside the city walls and once inside the city, on the Town Hall Square. These two moments sandwiched a grand procession through specially decorated streets, filled with elaborate pageantry and temporary architecture, by means of which the municipality and the citizens voiced their expectations of the new reign. The Joyous Entry was therefore the chief, because most visible, means by which the relationship between princes and cities was invoked, defined, performed, maintained, negotiated, and re-negotiated.

Keywords: Antwerp; European ruler; Joyous Entry; Town Hall Square



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