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

This new publication, written together with Arend Elias Oostindiër, is now available. The volume in which it appears is available fully open access:

Oostindiër, A.E. and Stapel, R.J. (2022) ‘Demographic Shifts and the Politics of Taxation in the Making of Fifteenth-Century Brabant’, in M.J.M. Damen and K. Overlaet (eds) Constructing and Representing Territory in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Amsterdam: AUP, pp. 141–178. Available at: (Accessed: 1 January 2022). Cite

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.

Published abstract

Some images in the publication had to be adjusted for black and white publication. Below you can access the original colour versions ( Please cite the publication when using any of these images: