14 January 2021

BOOK: Erik DE BOM, Randall LESAFFER and Werner THOMAS (Eds.), Early Modern Sovereignties - Theory and Practice of a Burgeoning Concept in the Netherlands (Leiden-New York: Brill, 2021). ISBN 978-90-04-44604-5, 141.00 EUR


(Source: Brill)

Brill is publishing a new edited collection on early modern sovereignties.


The essays in this volume explore the theories and practices of sovereignty in the context of state-building in the early modern Northern and Southern Low Countries. The Dutch Revolt, the secession of the northern provinces from the Spanish empire, the formation of the Dutch Republic and the reconstitution of Habsburg authority in the south, fostered tense debates among scholars and political leaders about the legitimacy, organisation and processes of law and governance. This made the Low Countries a prime battlefield for theoretical and political contestations about the nature of public authority and the relations between different layers of government in early-modern Europe. The book approaches this historical debate from three angles: (1) political theoretical, (2) legal, and (3) politico-historical.


Erik De Bom, Ph.D. (2009), KU Leuven, is Research Fellow at that university. He has published on the history of political thought in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, early-modern intellectual history and Renaissance humanism. 

Randall Lesaffer is Professor of legal history at KU Leuven as well as Tilburg University. His research focuses on the historical development of the law of nations in Europa since the sixteenth century. He is general editor of Oxford Historical Treaties and The Cambridge History of International Law. 

Werner Thomas is professor of Spanish and Spanish American History at KU Leuven. He publishes on the Low Countries and the Spanish monarchy, the repression of Protestantism in Spain, and the government of Archdukes Albert and Isabella in the Southern Netherlands.


List of Tables

Notes on Contributors



   Werner Thomas



The Construction of Sovereignty


1 Sovereignty in Grotius

   Hans Blom


2 Ideas on Sovereignty

  Soto, Vázquez and Grotius

   Gustaaf van Nifterik


3 Conform to the Government and Acknowledge the Sovereignty

  Simon Stevin and François Vranck, a Practical Approach to Contested Sovereignty

   Lies van Aelst



The Use and Limits of Sovereignty


4 Sovereignty as Argument

  The Habsburg-Dutch Struggle for Territory before and after Westphalia, 1576–1664

   Bram De Ridder


5 Sovereignty and Early Modern Private Property Rights

   Shavana Musa


6 The ‘Perfect Principality’ of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella

  Project and Reality of a ‘Separate Sovereignty’ of the Spanish Crown, 1529–1621

   Alicia Esteban Estríngana



Sovereigns and Sovereignty in Practice


7 ‘The King is the Real Sovereign of this Countries’

  Politics of Justice and Order from the Duke of Alba in the Netherlands, 1567–1571

   Gustaaf Janssens


8 Electing a Prince

  the Popular Transfer of Sovereignty at the End of the Sixteenth Century

   José Javier Ruiz Ibáñez


9 North-Netherlandish Sovereigns at Work in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century

   Simon Groenveld


10 Early Seventeenth-Century Representative Institutions and Law Making in the Habsburg Netherlands

   René Vermeir




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