Venice conference “Making Space for Festival” edition:1 location:Venice date:21-24 March 2013
In the second half of the seventeenth century the Spanish Netherlands, ruled by the Spanish Habsburg King Charles II (1661-1700), were wrecked by war and were impoverished by an economic decline. After the religious wars against the protestants the Catholics were now divided because of the Jansenist movement. The prospects for the different levels of the population weren’t very positive. The news of the victories of the Austrian Habsburg emperor against the Ottoman Turks, the “terror” of the West, was welcomed and celebrated in the cities of the Spanish Netherlands.
On September 8th 1685, the city of Antwerp became the scene of pump and circumstance. It remembered the citizens of better times and it expressed the hope for a new dawn of prosperity. One can wonder if the festivities for the victories against the Turk, were only the expression of joy by the population and its elites or if there were deeper motives for the celebrations? Analyzing the festival components and the city accounts will show who played an important role in the creation of the festivities and who benefitted from this display. Was the created image of the Turk in the celebrations part of late-medieval traditions of the exotic enemy or were there any timely adjustments? Was the theme a popular, recurring subject or was there more to it than meets the eye?