Ancestral Monuments, Iconoclasm, and Memorial Culture in the Sixteenth-Century Low Countries

Authors

  • Ruben Suykerbuyk Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.51750/emlc10007

Keywords:

funeral monuments, memory, iconoclasm, Protestant Reformation, archives, genealogy, épitaphier

Abstract

This contribution assesses the impact of the Protestant Reformation and iconoclasm on the memorial culture of tombs, epitaphs, and rituals in the Low Countries (c. 1520-1585), and analyses the consequences these events had on ancestral remembrance. Demonstrating how Protestant critiques and iconoclastic attacks fundamentally endangered the archival function of churches, it argues that this imminent threat to memory provoked a heightened awareness of the ancestral past in the later sixteenth century. Most significantly, it shows that this precarious situation led to the genesis of a new type of commemorative manuscript, the épitaphier, in which heraldic, genealogical, and other information on various types of memorial monuments in churches was recorded. In tracing the production and dissemination of these épitaphiers, the article casts new light on the pan-European heraldic and ‘genealogical craze’ in this period: while English scholars have emphasized social dynamics as explanation, this essay puts forward the religious debates as a hitherto neglected factor, and demonstrates how the two interlocked.

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Author Biography

Ruben Suykerbuyk, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Ruben Suykerbuyk is curator of old masters at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. He is the author of several contributions on fifteenth- to seventeenth-century religious art and material culture in the Low Countries, and, most recently, the Brill monograph The Matter of Piety. Zoutleeuw’s Church of Saint Leonard and Religious Material Culture in the Low Countries (c. 1450-1620). The present article is the product of a postdoctoral research project at Ghent University, focusing on the impact of the Protestant Reformation and iconoclasm on religious patronage and memorial culture in the sixteenth-century Low Countries.

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Published

2021-06-21

How to Cite

Suykerbuyk, R. (2021). Ancestral Monuments, Iconoclasm, and Memorial Culture in the Sixteenth-Century Low Countries. Early Modern Low Countries, 5(1), 40–74. https://doi.org/10.51750/emlc10007

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