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The Dutch Revolt and the Medieval Tradition of Urban Dissent

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The political culture which came to the forefront in the Dutch Revolt, ultimately leading to the abjuration of Philip II of Spain, drew on two distinct traditions. The first was a tradition of practical critical evaluation of the prince's politics by the representatives of the great cities of the county of Flanders and of the duchy of Brabant; the second a more theoretical tradition of important texts elaborated in previous moments of political crisis and thus imbued with a 'constitutional' meaning. This awareness of an important medieval legacy of rebelliousness has helped to elaborate a political culture in which historical consciousness and the practical defence of concrete urban interests and values through both political stance and urban rituals merged, and were finally passed on to the following generations of burghers. The power of the prince was thus balanced by a set of values and principles which finally led to the abjuration of King Philip as a 'logical' outcome of the Revolt.

Affiliations: 1: University of Ghent


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