Bargaining River Lords

Lordship and Spatial Politics in Premodern Guelders (Fifteenth-Sixteenth Centuries


  • Jim Van der Meulen Ghent University



Premodern Guelders, water management


This article offers an examination of the seigneurie (heerlijkheid) as an element in the institutional framework of Netherlandish water management. The investigation builds on a recent historiographical trend that questions whether inclusive systems of water management can be tied to ‘proto-democratic’ decision-making in the premodern Low Countries. Focusing on the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century river region of the duchy of Guelders, the central question is to what extent lords, ladies, and their seigneurial officials impacted the natural environment of people living in rural regions. Based on a combination of seigneurial accounts and court records, the main thesis is that the aristocratic element formed an ambiguous yet important cog in the late medieval system of water management in Guelders.


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Author Biography

  • Jim Van der Meulen, Ghent University

    Jim van der Meulen works as postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University in a team project that compares the relationship between lordship and state formation in late medieval Europe. He received his PhD in history from the University of Antwerp in 2017 for a study on textile manufacture in pre-industrial Flanders. His research interests are both in political history and socioeconomic history and he has published articles in both fields, most notably in Social History (2018) and in Continuity and Change (2021).






Research Article

How to Cite

Bargaining River Lords: Lordship and Spatial Politics in Premodern Guelders (Fifteenth-Sixteenth Centuries. (2021). TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 18(2).