Wealth Inequality in a Time of Transition: Coastal Flanders in the Sixteenth Century


  • Kristof Dombrecht Ghent University
  • Wouter Ryckbosch Vrije Universiteit Brussel






In this article we aim to make a case for a renewed attention to the structural social and political processes that influenced changes in early modern levels of inequality. We argue that early modern changes in inequality were not solely, or even primarily, determined by (exogenous) demographic trends and macro-economic growth, but by structural changes in the (political) economy of early modern society. By studying a micro-level case-study of inequality during a period of intense change in economic structure, this article aims to reconcile such traditional interpretations with the recent historiography on early modern inequality.


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Author Biographies

  • Kristof Dombrecht, Ghent University

    Kristof Dombrecht (1987) obtained his Ph.D. in history from Ghent University in 2014. He specialised in late medieval and early modern economic history, and has published on topics such as social inequality, burial rituals, fraternities and local office-holding in 15th and 16th century villages north of Bruges. Currently he is working for the Federal Department of Finances of Belgium.

  • Wouter Ryckbosch, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
    Wouter Ryckbosch (1984) studied medieval history at Ghent University, and obtained his Ph.D. in history from the University of Antwerp in 2012. He specialises in medieval and early modern social history, and has published on issues of material culture, living standards, consumption, and inequality in pre-industrial Europe. Since 2016 he teaches early modern history at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.






Research Article

How to Cite

Wealth Inequality in a Time of Transition: Coastal Flanders in the Sixteenth Century. (2017). TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 14(2), 63-84. https://doi.org/10.18352/tseg.917