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EAUH Conference 2018


Session SS04 - Golden Ages around the North Sea. Urban planning, Architecture and the Rise and Fall of Urban Systems 1100-1800

Coordinators: Jaap Evert Abrahamse (, Heidi Deneweth (, Reinout Rutte (

Read Session abstractFrom the material culture of the early Middle Ages onwards, it is clear that settlements on all sides of the North Sea were connected. Intensive maritime trade connected the economies of the coastal areas of the Low Countries, Britain, Germany and Scandinavia. Until the sixteenth century, the largest towns and main economic centres, such as Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp, were located in Flanders. From the late sixteenth century a clear and rapid shift took place towards the emerging Dutch Republic, where Rotterdam and especially Amsterdam were on the rise. At the end of the seventeenth century, the centre of gravity moved to England, where London became the centre of a great colonial empire. All of these cities were part of larger urban systems, formed by port cities and industrial centres.
We have extensive literature about urbanization, town planning and architecture on the coasts of the North Sea. Most of our knowledge however has a strong local focus, although townscapes and both public and private buildings show striking similarities between Flemish, Dutch, and English towns, for example Bruges, Middelburg, Veere, Norwich, Boston and King’s Lynn. This session intends to bring together and confront these histories to formulate new research questions about knowledge transfer in the field of town planning, architecture and construction.
The leading question would be how the North Sea functioned not so much as the divide between regions, but as the main connection, the infrastructure providing the possibilities for an intensive exchange of people, goods and knowledge. Both the cultural exchange itself, in the fields of planning history and architecture and the underlying supra-regional networks of trade and patronage that determine the urban pattern and the layout and appearance of towns, are important subjects in this session.
Keywords: North Sea; urban systems; port cities; cultural exchange; architecture; urbanism; town planning

Thursday 30th August 2018
  Room 19 13.30-15.00



Influence of international excellence on the town planning of Stockholm in the 17th century
Marianne Råberg

The visual representation of cities around the North Sea in the early modern period.
Everhard Korthals Altes

The ‘cartographic identity’ of sixteenth-century port cities in the North Sea area
Bram Vannieuwenhuyze