< Back to previous page


The Residential System of the High Nobility in the Habsburg Low Countries: the Croÿ Case

The research is focused on the architecture of the nobility, specifically the higher ranks of court society, in the Low Countries during the long Habsburg sixteenth century (1477-1635). The ‘modern’ architecture of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century was indeed built for families such as the Croÿs and their successors. The noble way of life was essentially nomadic, linked with the constant movement of the court throughout the whole of the Low Countries.
In my research I am mappingthe network of residences that served this nomadic lifestyle linking itwith detailed information concerning the “palaces”, castles and “villas”. The primary case-study is the network of the Croÿ – later Arenberg – dynasty as this family can be considered representative for the phenomenon we want to analyze. The migration of the highest nobility strongly depends on the movements of the princely household. In defining the urban network of residences of the high nobility the link with the movements of the reigning prince is closely examined. As Lord High Chamberlain and Knight of the Golden Fleece, William II of Croÿ was very close to the court of Emperor Charles V. Next to these courtly functions he had semi-military responsibilities as lord of Chièvres, duke of Soria, first count of Beaumont and first marquis of Aarschot that required a frequent presence in these seigniories.
Linked with these important functions at the court as well as in the different provinces were the residences that belonged to the Croÿ. This network of residences can be mapped using the GIS system, creating an accessible medium for historical informationretrieval. Taking this even to a next level, we aim to reconstruct someof the routes and travels that the Croÿ undertook in the 16th century, with a special focus on the border area to France.
Architecture is seen here as an essential part of vivre noblement, the nobility’s way of life. The noble residence represents power, ancestral lineage and social prestige to the contemporary observer. In the next phase of our research we will investigate how the architecture of these residences helped to consolidate the Croÿs’ high-ranked position at court, and conversely if and how the Burgundian court served as a model for the Croÿs. It should be remembered that they were among the principal favorites of Philip the Good, to whom they owed their initial good fortune.

Date:2 Sep 2014 →  28 May 2019
Keywords:Residences, Croÿ, Low Countries, Digital methods
Disciplines:Architectural engineering, Architecture, Interior architecture, Architectural design, Art studies and sciences
Project type:PhD project