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Authors: Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

The sense of a gulf between city and court has been perpetuated, in the case of the Burgundian Low Countries, by the long-standing influence of Johan Huizinga's Herfstij der Middeleeuwen. The foundation of the Burgundian curial Order of chivalry known as the Golden Fleece was proclaimed on the market place at Bruges on behalf of Philip the Good during the festivities of his wedding to Isabella of Portugal in January 1430. The ceremonies accompanying the formal Entry of a dynast into a subject city in later medieval Europe have generated a rich and varied literature in the last generation, particularly in the case of the Burgundian Netherlands. The book includes ceremonial events, such as the spectacles and gargantuan banquets that made the Burgundian dukes the talk of Europe, the workings of the court, and jousting, archery and rhetoric competitions. The regular contests of jousters, archers and poets in towns of the Low Countries were among the most distinctive features of festive urban society in the fifteenth century. The control that late medieval urban authorities sought to exercise over the sacred, articularly over cults of saints is a phenomenon identified in Italian city states as 'civic religion'. The Burgundian court developed a reputation as one of the most spectacular in Europe: the presence and function of ceremony in court and civic society require more detailed attention.

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Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

This chapter contains a selection of translated and annotated texts on the Burgundian court. With the exception of a very small number of high-status guests and relatives, the many men and fewer women who attended court were there to serve the prince and enjoy his favour. The prince could not be present in any one city all the time, with the result that the growth of Burgundian power effectively reduced the number of princely courts within the Low Countries. Princes and their servants might enjoy rights of board and lodging in monastic institutions, but the expanding and increasingly demanding court was less likely to find suitable accommodation there than it had in the past.

in Court and civic society in the Burgundian Low Countries c.1420–1530
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Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

This introduction provides historical background to the translated texts, discussing the Burgundian lands, urban society, the city and state, service at court, ceremony and ritual, 'urban' and 'courtly' ceremonies, ritual, power and symbolic communication.

in Court and civic society in the Burgundian Low Countries c.1420–1530
Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

This chapter presents two texts describing the spectular extravagance of The Feast of the Pheasant at Lille in 1454 and the marriage feast of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York in 1468.

in Court and civic society in the Burgundian Low Countries c.1420–1530
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Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on Burgundian entry ceremonies. The Entry ceremony was quite distinct from the normal pattern of ducal itineration, occasioned as it was by a significant event, usually an inauguration of some kind. In all Entry ceremonies a set of 'formal observances' may be identified which, when fully respected, made the event an elaborate and costly undertaking for its organisers. Interpretations of Entry ceremonies are commonly grounded on the notion that they witnessed a dialogue between prince and subjects, the former communicating his authority, qualities and intentions as a good ruler, the latter advertising their loyalty and stating their corporate aspirations.

in Court and civic society in the Burgundian Low Countries c.1420–1530
Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

This chapter contains a selection of translated and annotated texts on the Order of teh Golden Fleece. The foundation of the Burgundian curial Order of chivalry known as the Golden Fleece was proclaimed on the market place at Bruges on behalf of Philip the Good during the festivities of his wedding to Isabella of Portugal in January 1430. The political value of the Order to the Valois dukes and their Habsburg successors lay in the acceptance on oath of the demanding statutes by a membership of high-ranking noblemen from the Burgundian dominions, and by a smaller but growing number of foreign rulers and dignitaries. A more neglected dimension of the political importance of the Golden Fleece was its relevance to urban society.

in Court and civic society in the Burgundian Low Countries c.1420–1530
Jousts, shooting fraternities and Chambers of rhetoric
Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on Burgundian civic society and the court. The regular contests of jousters, archers and poets in towns of the Low Countries were among the most distinctive features of festive urban society in the fifteenth century. Jousting groups do not appear to have the same formal structures as religious fraternities; but their events would invariably involve attendance at a vigil and mass on the eve of jousting. Their membership demonstrates strong links with the civic government and the upper echelons of civic society. Civic accounts from the late thirteenth century, in several towns in Flanders and northern France, begin to make sporadic payments for jousting activity on their market places. Rhetoric competitions that explored religious themes could also serve as stages for the edification, spiritual and civic, of a wider audience within the town. Moreover, 'urban' rhetoricians could not be seen as 'court' ciphers; festive events rarely offered explicit support of Burgundian rule.

in Court and civic society in the Burgundian Low Countries c.1420–1530
Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on Burgundian civic religion and the court. The involvement of Burgundian rulers in the religious life of their towns was regular, frequent and varied. The presence of the living duke in the city might mean disruption to the normal rhythms of urban religious activity. The role of the dukes in annual civic processions was usually as passive spectators. Their joining of guilds and fraternities in towns suggests participation that complemented rather than appropriated the religious activities of their urban subjects. The profusion of relics in towns and villages by the fifteenth century, and the vast number of smaller religious groupings of parishes and guilds suggests lay activity that secular and clerical authorities could react to but scarcely contain.

in Court and civic society in the Burgundian Low Countries c.1420–1530
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Freedom of belief, freedom from belief
John Pritchard, Andrew Brown, and Emma Cohen

Every internationally agreed human rights convention contains a clause protecting freedom of belief and conscience. Religious intolerance is not limited to any region nor is it exclusively practised by followers of any single religion or belief. The tolerance policy can neither afford to find an easy way out by resorting to the norms of injustice, intolerance and discrimination employed by the forces of terrorism. Nor can compromises be made that will eventually dilute the universal standards of human rights. Current debates about the value of religious belief for society often turn on unexamined and parochial notions of what religion is and mistaken assumptions about the causes of religious thinking and behaviour. In Christian theology, God gives Creation freedom to be itself; from that freedom every other freedom flows, in particular the freedom to love and be loved.

in Religion and rights