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Princely Pieties: the I598-I6I7 accessions of the Royal Library in Brussels

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This article is concerned with one particular phase of the history of the ancient Royal Library in Brussels. It investigates how the Library developed during the first two decades of the reign of the Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella; an investigation permitted by the existence of an inventory compiled between I6I4 and I6I7. A substantial part of the article thus consists of an annotated transcript of the relevant parts of this inventory. On this basis, the article demonstrates that the accessions policy of the Royal Library in Brussels went through a significant transformation during the period in question: the Library changed from being a wide-ranging academic resource towards a more narrowly religious and recreational scope. However, as the article argues, this change was probably not caused by the Brussels Court of Albert and Isabella. Rather, it was due to the suppliers of the Library, the chief printing-houses and authors of the Southern Netherlands. Thus, whilst the I6I4-I7 inventory is of historical interest itself, it also offers important evidence of how a certain social group perceived the Brussels Court.


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