One Foot in the Palace

The Habsburg Court of Brussels and the Politics of Access in the Reign of Albert and Isabella, 1598-1621

Dries Raeymaekers (Author),

Category: History, History 1500-1800

Language: English

ISBN: 9789058679390

Publication date: December 5, 2013

€65.00 (including 6% VAT)

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Number of pages: 366

Size: 240 x 160 x 150 mm

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Stock item: 83660

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Category: History, History 1500-1800

Language: English

DOI: 10.11116/9789461661432

ISBN: 9789461661432

Publication date: December 5, 2013

€49.00 (including 6% VAT)

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Number of pages: 366

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The splendor and enticement of the Archdukes’ Court in Brussels
The Habsburg Court of Brussels remains one of the few early modern princely courts that have never been thoroughly studied by historians. Yet it offers a unique case, particularly with regard to the first decades of the seventeenth century. Once home to the Dukes of Burgundy, the ancient palace on the Coudenberg hill in Brussels became the principal residence of the Habsburg governors in the Low Countries and, in the period 1598-1621, that of Archduke Albert and his wife, the Spanish Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia. Eager to reassert the dynasty’s authority in these parts, the Archdukes ruled the Habsburg Netherlands as sovereign princes in their own right. Based on the author’s prize-winning dissertation, this book vividly brings to life the splendor of their court and unravels the goals and ambitions of the men and women who lived and worked in the palace.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Illustrations & Plates
Tables & Charts
Currency values


The sovereignty debate
The emergence of court studies
Court studies and the court of the archdukes
The role of the household
Sources and methodology
Arrangement of the book

Part I: Anatomy of the Archducal Household

Chapter I: Setting the Stage
Reconstructing the archducal household
The development of the Spanish-Burgundian court model
Structure and organization of the archducal household
The Capilla
The Casa
The Cámara

a) The Cámara of Albert
b) The Cámara of Isabella
The Caballeriza
The Guarda

Conclusion: the court ceremonial in its political context

Chapter II: Household Scale & Finances
Contours: the court and its household
The figures

Financial organization of the archducal household
Departmental budgets
Conspicuous consumption

The archducal household budget
The figures


Chapter III: In the Service of the Dynasty*
The creation of the archducal household
Nation and loyalty
The selection process
The criteria
Religious and political affinity
Lineage and reputation
Experience and competence
Advocacy and appreciation

Influence from Madrid?
A ‘Spanish bastion’?

Part II: The Political Role of the Courtiers

Chapter IV: ‘Une Liberté Absolue d’Entrer’
Access in the spatial and ceremonial sense
Access to the archducal Cámara
Norms and practices
The golden key
Access and favor

Chapter V: Eyes & Ears*
Faction vs. nation
The swearing of oaths in 1616
Dynastic perils
Courtiers in diplomacy

Chapter VI: The Archduke’s Gran Privado
The long path to power
The minister-favorite
Favorites and fortunes
A valimiento in the Archducal Netherlands?



Archival Sources
Printed Primary Sources
Secondary Sources


Dries RaeymaekersORCID icon

Dries Raeymaekers is lecturer in Early Modern History at Radboud University Nijmegen.

Dries Raeymaekers is als universitair docent Vroegmoderne Geschiedenis verbonden aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. Hij is tevens voorzitter van de Vlaams-Nederlandse Vereniging voor Nieuwe Geschiedenis.

Het hof van de aartshertogen in Brussel is een prachtige, prinselijke omgeving die evenwel nog niet zo vaak bestudeerd is: wie deed er wat? Nochtans is het goed gedocumenteerd. Daarvan heeft Raeymaekers gebruik gemaakt om dit schitterende boek te schrijven: hij vond voldoende materiaal om het leven aan het hof uitvoerig te bespreken en om te achterhalen wie werkelijk aan de macht was en hoe die macht functioneerde. Daarmee brengt hij een van de rijkste passages uit onze vaderlandse geschiedenis opnieuw tot leven. Een aanrader voor deze periode.

At times, the large number of individuals discussed and detailed in part 2's examination of the political roles of the courtiers can become a bit overwhelming, but the clear interplay between courtiers and diplomacy or even warfare comes out in the variety of examples Raeymaekers presents. He desires to break down a national analysis as well as one that emphasizes too much a strict separation between public and private. To do so he provides a welter of examples of men and women active at the court and coming from across Europe with feet in both camps, looking at what he describes as ''a complex interwoven nature [sic] of political, personal, and material interests'' (238).
In closing, perhaps a word or two should be said about the translation, with its rich and earthy language full of colloquialisms and rather informal speech. The language recalls a painting by Pieter Breughel the Elder. While it may not be everyone's ''cup of tea,'' this reviewer found the prose refreshing.

JOSEPH F. PATROUCH, University of Alberta, Renaissance Quarterly 67.4 (Winter 2014).

Dit boek is niets minder dan een huzarenstukje: hofordonnanties en vele hofrekeningen van deze hofhouding ontbreken, maar Raeymaekers heeft op intelligente wijze materiaal uit verschillende archieven geïntegreerd in een mooie (en vaak ook statistisch onderbouwde) analyse. Hij slaagt er daarbij in Spaanse historiografie te ontsluiten in een eerder Angelsakische geïnspireerde en gerichte studie. [...] Bovenal zal de lezer een levendig, bijzonder vlot geschreven en vooral gestructureerd verhaal vinden over hovelingen en hun vroegzeventiende-eeuwse leefwereld.
Violet Soen, KU Leuven, BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review | Volume 129-4 (2014) | review 99

In sum, the study provides a detailed and all-encompassing picture of the political circumstances at an extraordinary court that will enrich the debates on the struggle for power in early modern Europe. The Court of Brussels has not yet been as thoroughly researched as its European counterparts in Paris, Madrid, Vienna, etc., mainly because it is considered less important. Nevertheless, it is evident that Brussels was at the centre of several key developments, especially during the seventeenth century, because it was the only place in Europe where a new household was created, the so-called Maison royale de Bruxelles, being its nearest antecedent the household of the Archdukes. So, the seventeenth-century court of Brussels constitutes an excellent case to understand power formations, and Raeymaekers' book applies an excellent approach to this topic.
José Eloy Hortal Muñoz,

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