The secularisation of urban space : mapping the afterlife of religious houses in Brussels, antwerp and Bruges
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This research aims to investigate the visual and material urban transformations after the suppression of the monasteries and convents in three Belgian towns — Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges — between 1773-96 and 1860 (Coomans and Klaarenbeek 2014).1 These towns had a large presence of religious houses: after a first wave of foundation of abbeys from the high Middle Ages, the urbanised Southern Low Countries — more or less the territory of present Belgium — attracted mendicant friaries and nunneries, hospital convents, charterhouses and beguinages in the thirteenth century (Coomans 2018). From the late sixteenth cen- tury onwards, a wave of new foundations including the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) resulted from the Catholic Counter-Reformation that was counterbalancing the neighbouring reformed Dutch Republic. At the end of the eighteenth century, the concentration of urban religious houses in the Southern Low Countries exceeded thirty per large town, owning no less than 13-15% of the intra-muros urban space.
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