Demographic Shifts and the Politics of Taxation in the Making of Fifteenth-Century Brabant

Arend Elias Oostindiër, Rombert Stapel

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


In 1437, the Burgundian Duke Philip the Good introduced hearth counts in the Duchy of Brabant, engineering a complete overhaul of the existing fiscal system. Hearth or household counts offered a rational and uniform determinant for allocating each locality a share in the general taxes. This curbed opportunities to negotiate rebates, reducing the bargaining power of the duke’s subjects in this key principality in the Burgundian composite monarchy and one of the most densely populated regions in Europe.
In this paper we use new GIS-reconstructions of village-level boundaries and novel spatial techniques to map the fiscal capacity of the contributing localities before (1383/1386) and after (1436–1442) the reform. By combining this to written sources of the negotiations, we show how the duke was able to exploit the hearth censuses as a tool of power for mastering the political space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConstructing and Representing Territory in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
EditorsMario Damen, Kim Overlaet
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
ISBN (Electronic)978 90 4855 180 4
ISBN (Print)978 94 6372 613 9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Brabant
  • human geography
  • historical GIS
  • hearth counts
  • fiscal history
  • state formation
  • middle ages
  • Burgundy


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