Leuven Research Early Modern History Doctoral Fellowship 2017, Belgium

Publish Date: Jun 05, 2017

Deadline: Jun 30, 2017


For the Research Group Early Modern History (15th-18th Centuries), Leuven we are looking for an enthousiastic doctoral student, who is willing to write and defend a doctoral dissertation regarding burial disputes during the Dutch Revolt within the framework of four years. The dissertation, and the (co-)publication of preliminary results in (international) journals and a source repository, should shed light on the symbolic violence during these funerals and the pacification strategies by city and state. The case studies are Antwerp, Utrecht (NL) and Valenciennes (FR). The project will be supervised by promotor Violet Soen, the candidate should also report to the project's funding institution Research Foundation Flanders.

The Leuven Research Unit Early Modern History epitomises a driven and empirical approach to research. Its members foster an interest in an extended range of topics, but particular attention is given to the study of the Low Countries (and its surrounding regions) within their global context, from roughly the late fifteenth until the eighteenth century. Their research confronts the material on both the political and cultural level as well as examining socio-economic and religious implications, and is not limited to a sole method or theoretical approach. On the contrary, the researchers purposely strive toward a multi-disciplinary approach of the Early Modern city and state, based on thorough research of available sources. This breadth of interest and diversity permits staff to teach a plethora of methodological, theoretical and historical courses within the History program of KU Leuven. Moreover, members of our research unit are involved in various international research networks.


"Rest in peace". The management of death and burial during the Dutch Revolt.

Burials were highly explosive matters in the sixteenth-century strife between Catholics and Protestants. When Catholics continued to insist on the sacrament of the Last Anointing, a funeral mass led by the priest and a burial in sacred ground, Protestants rejected this ‘ritual industry’, and came to defend a sober ars moriendi and a plain burial indesignated though not sacred cemeteries. For the Holy Roman Empire, the British Isles and France, it has been extensively documented how burials thus induced confessional disputes and even religious violence, but strikingly sources in the early modern Low Countries do not register similar outbursts in or around cemeteries. Hence, this research project examines this absence of outspoken religious violence, by testing the hypothesis that it was eventually prevented through a remarkable management of death at different levels. This management consisted of the multi-level prescriptions of local, central and ecclesiastical authorities on the crucial rite de passage, as well as the engagement of local citizens with the manner in which burials could and should take place. Moreover, it argues that this top-downand bottom-up management of death led to the unforeseen outcome that at least from 1576 onwards, regulation systematically included provisional pacification measures for the ‘other’ confession, a procedure eventually surviving in the Dutch Republic. The project thus aims to explain why the Low Countries were an exception to the rule, and why and how bereaved during the Dutch Revolt could rest in peace.


  • Master in history, with excellent study results (students in their last year can also apply)
  • You have experience in working with early modern historical sources, and you dispose of good paleographic skills
  • A good command of English, French and Dutch - you are not scared to read archival sources in (church) Latin, Middle French or Middle Dutch.
  • You are prepared to stay a longer period abroad in order to carry out research in Utrecht (NL) and Valenciennes (FR)
  • You love communicating about your research, whether by (co-authored) articles, papers at international conferences, social media and education
  • You are creative and a team player (giving the colloboration behind the project's database and its members)


  • A doctoral fellowship for a period of four years (one year, prolonged with one year and two years respectively after positive evaluations).
  • A dynamic research environment with regular research meetings and conferences.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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