Vorstenportretten in vroege drukken van wetgeving in Holland en Zeeland (1500-1540) | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1566-7146
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1611



Around 1500, just like other sovereigns in Europe, the higher authorities in the Habsburg Netherlands immediately used the printing press in the context of legal and political communication, for example to promulgate laws and statutes. Moreover, their visual aspect played an essential role in their dissemination, as many editions contain woodcuts with princely emblems and/or portraits. Because producing woodcuts was a labourintensive and costly process, printers reused woodblocks from other books, also in legislation. For example, Willem Vorsterman reused portraits of sovereigns he commissioned for his (Antwerp, 1531) in his editions of ordinances. This contribution showcases illustrated ordinances issued in the county of Holland-Zeeland (1500-1540) and traces the origin of reused woodcuts in other texts. Were these portraits purely meant as political communication by the sovereign or was using this particular kind of woodcuts an invention of book printers to promote a new genre?


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