Court and civic society in the Burgundian Low Countries c.1420–1530

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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