Bulletin de la Commission royale d’Histoire, 187, 2021, 215 p. (issn 0001-415X).

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Józef Łaptos, en collaboration avec Idesbald Goddeeris, Thierry Grosbois, Inga Kawka, Wojciech Prażuch et Przemyslaw Szczur,

La politique polonaise à la lumière des rapports diplomatiques belges (1939-1945), Brussels, Commission royale d’Histoire, 2021, 493 p. (isbn 978-2-87044-021-6). Price : 32 € (Documents relatifs au statut international de la Belgique depuis 1830, J2).

The Author

Józef Łaptos is a Polish historian. After having obtained a PhD at the Jagiellonian University (1974), he climbed the ladder of the academic career at the Pedagogical University of Cracow. He was also a visiting professor at the Sorbonne (2001), the University of Aix-Marseille (2002-2004), the École normale supérieure de Paris (2005) and the Université libre de Bruxelles (2007). The main axes of his research are diplomatic history, European integration, the history of Belgium and humanitarian aid. Among his most important works are: Dyplomaci II Rzeczypospolitej w świetle raportów Quai d’Orsay, [Diplomats of the Second Polish Republic in the light of the Quai d’Orsay reports], Historia Belgii, (1995) [History of Belgium]; Historia małych państw (ed.) [History of small states], 2002; with M. Misztal, American Debates on Central European Union, 1942-1944 (2002); Europa marzycieli (1940-1956) [Europe of dreamers], (2012); Humanitaryzm i polityka. Pomoc UNRRA dla Polski (1943-1947) [Humanitarianism and politics. UNRRA’s aid to Poland 1943-1947], 2018. He was appointed an Officer of the Léopold Order in 2007.


Usually, publications of the Royal Historical Commission mainly focus on Belgian security issues and its foreign policy. This volume highlights Belgian diplomacy from a European perspective. A group of Polish and Belgian historians came up with the idea of bringing together Belgian dispatches and diplomatic reports devoted to the efforts that the Poles made during the Second World War to regain the independence of their state, which had fallen victim of German and Soviet aggression. The result – 275 duly annotated documents – allows us to retrace Belgian reaction to the Polish resistance, armed struggle, and diplomatic initiatives, including the idea of a Central European federation. The attitude toward the Polish disappointment caused by the British and American concessions to the USSR as well as by the catastrophic failure leading to the sovietisation of Poland, is quite revealing: it shows the political, intellectual, even emotional framework of the Belgian circles in exile, but also the sources of Belgium’s Atlantic commitment and its tireless support for supranational groupings.

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De rekeningen van de stad Brugge (1280-1319). Tweede deel (1302-1319), derde stuk, uitgegeven door C. Wyffels †, met de medewerking van A. Vandewalle. Indices door Katrien Vandewoude, met de medewerking van Maurice Vandermaesen en Stijn Meersseman, Brussels, Commission royale d'Histoire, 2020, 338 p., isbn 978-2-87044-018-6 (series in-4°, A62). Price: 40 €.

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Claire Billen & Marc Boone

Bans et édits pour la ville de Tournai en temps de peste (1349-1351) – Les transcriptions retrouvées de Frédéric Hennebert, Brussels, Commission royale d'Histoire, 2021, 211 p. (series grand in-8°, C29). Price: 23 € (isbn 978-2-87044-019-3)

Abstract - The discovery among the manuscript collection of the University Library of Ghent University of the transcriptions made by the city archivist of Tournai, Frédéric Hennebert (1837-1873) has allowed the reconstruction of the thirty first pages of the register of urban ordonnances of Tournai concerning the years 1349-1351, the original document having been lost in the course of the bombardment of the city of Tournai in May 1940. The document allows reconstructing the daily legislative activity by the urban magistrate, confronted by an almost daily crisis provoked by the arrival of the Black Death in the summer of 1349.

Claire Billen (°1947). Historian and emeritus professor at the Free university of Brussels (ULB, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Research team SociAMM) where she taught social and economic history of the middle ages, comparative urban history and ecological history. She also animated several interdisciplinary research groups active in the context of the “Institute for environmental management and territorial planning” (IGEAT) at the same university.

Marc Boone (Ghent, 1955) full professor at the Ghent University, PhD in 1987, dean of the faculty of Arts and Philosophy between 2012 and 2018. Invited professor at the Université de Bourgogne (Dijon), the University of  Paris IV,  and the ‘École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales’ (Paris) and at the Università degli Studi di Milano, internal Belgian Francqui chair at ULB. Member of the Royal Flemish academy of  Belgium (KVAB) and of the Academia Europeae. President of the Pro Civitate committee (Royal academies of Belgium) and of the Society for history and archaeology of Ghent. Research fields: urban history, political and socio-economic history of the late Middle Ages, Burgundian history.

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René Wilkin, Bernard Wilkin & Christian Remy

Mémoires des campagnes de Jean Gheerbrant, maréchal des logis-chef au Xe régiment de hussards (1798-1808), Brussels, Commission royale d'Histoire, 2021, 259 p. (series grand in-8°, C30). Price: 25 € (ISBN 978-2-87044-020-9)

Abstract - Jean Gheerbrant, a young Flemish from Wacken, left his native village in 1798, having been conscripted in the French republican army. He spent a year chasing anti-Revolutionary activists in Normandy before deserting his infantry unit for the 10th Hussars regiment. The next years, he travelled across France, Italy and Spain without fighting. In September 1805, he left for Germany. During his first battle, at Wertingen, Gheerbrant captured an Austrian cannon, a deed for which he was awarded the Legion of Honour. He also saw action at Ulm and took part in the capture of Vienna. Serving as aide-de-camp to Murat, Gheerbrant asked to be sent back to his regiment. He was again distinguished for his bravery during the battle of Wischau and fought at Austerlitz. Once the peace treaties signed, he was stationed in Germany. In 1806, he captured a flag at the battle of Iena. Involved in several other clashes, he was reformed in 1808. Once home, he took over the family business. He became mayor of Wakken in 1821 and died in 1871

René et Bernard Wilkin, father and son, both studied history at the University of Liege. Bernard also completed a PhD at the University of Sheffield. A retired teacher, René spends most of his time investigating the Ourthe départment during the French period. Bernard is senior archivist at the State Archives of Belgium (Liege). Together, they have written two books in English Fighting for Napoleon and Fighting the British, and one in French Lettres de Grognards, as well as several articles about the Napoleonic era in the British press.

Christian Remy was born in Machelen in 1939. He spent his youth in Bukavu, Congo. After completing a civil engineer degree at the ULv, he worked as an engineer until 2014. His mother-in-law, a direct relative of Gheerbrant, held the original memoirs and had begun the translation work, which he finished after her death.

Bulletin de la Commission royale d'Histoire, 186, 2020, 197 p.


2019 (185), 319 p.

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Karim Schelkens & Dirk Claes, eds. Gerard Philips

Dagboek van twee reizen in Belgisch Congo en Ruanda-Urundi (1957 en 1959), Brussel, Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis, 2019, 135 p. (reeks groot in-8°, C28). 17 €, isbn 978-2-87044-017-9

Abstract - With the forelying critical edition of Gerard Philips’ travel diaries, a unique historical source becomes available to the public. Philips’ notebooks testify to the complex relationships that marked daily life in the Belgian Congo and in Ruanda-Urundi on the eve of Congolese independence. The author was at the same time a senator, an academic and a priest, a combination of capacities due to which his travel report offers a unique insight into the relationship between the political, university and ecclesiastical environments in the colonial era. Moreover, these journals cover the story of two journeys, in 1957 and in 1959, enabling the reader to closely follow the change in Belgian colonial policy as a result of the policy shift from the liberal-socialist government Van Acker IV to the Eyskens III cabinet and to witness the momentum of the Congolese struggle for emancipation in the late 1950s. The editors offer a detailed historical introduction, and in the process of annotating the source, they have made use of unpublished materials from a large number of archive collections.

Karim Schelkens (Lier, 1977) is associate professor at Tilburg University and guest professor at KU Leuven, where he obtained his PhD in 2007. He conducts research into the history of the ecumenical movement and the domain of academic biography. As an expert in the history of religions, Schelkens has published extensively on the Second Vatican Council and on reform movements in modern European Catholicism. As an author or editor, he has published some twenty academic books, including a critically annotated edition of Gerard Philips’ council journals.

Dirk Claes (Lommel, 1966) studied theology (history of Church and theology) and mediaeval history at KU Leuven, where he obtained his PhD in 2004 on a study of the Leuven theological faculty in the first half of the twentieth century. He has worked as a research fellow at the University of Groningen and KU Leuven, and published on faculty history, religious history topics from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and on late medieval encyclopedic legal texts. He is a policy officer at the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels.

2018 (184), 406 p.

Claude Bruneel, Thérèse de Hemptinne & Guy Vanthemsche (eds.),

Fragments de guerre – Oorlogsfragmenten 1914-1918. Bulletin de la Commission royale d'Histoire, 184, 2018, 406 p.

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José Eloy Hortal MuÑoz, África Espíldora García & Pierre-François Pirlet

El ceremonial en la Corte de Bruselas del siglo XVII. Los manuscritos de Francisco Alonso Lozano
, Bruxelles, Commission royale d'Histoire, 2018, 271 p. (Collection grand in-8°, C27). ISBN 978-2-87044-016-2

Following their incorporation into the Spanish monarchy, the Habsburg Netherlands were ruled by governors-general, who established their own Households in Brussels. However, this situation began to change in the mid-seventeenth century, as evidenced by the letters of appointment of various courtiers, who were no longer identified as members of this or that governor’s household, but rather as part of la Maison Royale de Bruxelles. We can infer, therefore, that from this moment onwards, the royal household in Brussels belonged to the territory rather than to particular people. Naturally, a theoretical justification was required to support the existence of this new household, by the way, the only one that was created in whole Europe at the seventeenth century. At the same time, it should also be remembered that during the reign of Felipe IV (1621-1665), the Etiquettes concerning the royal household were thoroughly codified in Madrid, so that the other Courts in the Monarchy could not have been oblivious to this development and became involved in the process, as was the case of Brussels. It is in this context where we must situate the elaboration of the manuscripts of Francisco Alonso Lozano that we present here. Between 1692 and 1712, he wrote two books: the first was called Plan ou Estat de la maison royale dans ces estats de flandres, in which he detailed the functions of each office, while the second, Notice de toutes les emplois de la cour et de la chapelle royale de Bruxelles, indicated the number of servants and the stipends and bouche of court that they received. No doubt, we guess that these two manuscripts represents an invaluable source to the knowledge of the seventeenth-century Court of Brussels, comparable to what represent the Etiquetas Generales de Palacio for the Court of Madrid.

José Eloy Hortal Muñoz (Madrid, 1974) graduated in Early Modern and Modern History (1997) and History of Art (1999) at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (UAM), where he also defended his PhD thesis in September 2004 with the highest mark. He works as professor at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC) since 2009. His major works include the monographs Las guardas reales de los Austrias hispanos (Madrid, 2013), and Los asuntos de Flandes. Las relaciones entre las Cortes de la Monarquía Hispánica y de los Países Bajos durante el siglo XVI (Saarbrücken, 2011); he also co-directed several collective works as A Constellation of Courts. The Households of Habsburg Europe, (1555-1665) (Louvain, 2014), with René Vermeir and Dries Raeymaekers; and La Casa de Borgoña: la Casa del rey de España (Louvain, 2014), with Félix Labrador Arroyo. More information on the web: www.joseeloyhortal.com.

África Espíldora García (Toledo, 1960) graduated in Geography and History at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) in 1993. For some years, she taught in secondary schools and worked in libraries (Museo de Santa Cruz de Toledo); then she switched to the archival world. In this field, she first worked as a senior technician at the Archivo Historico de la Nobleza de Toledo (1999-2001, 2008-2011); later on, she was in charge of the central archives of several government counsels of the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha (2001-2006). Since 2011, she has dedicated her attention to research. She is currently is finishing the edition of a volume titled Francisco de Mendoza: un almirante por los caminos de Europa (1596).

Pierre-François Pirlet (Liège, 1982) holds a PhD in History, Arts and Archaeology from Liège University since 2015, and is a scientific collaborator of ULiège’s Historical Sciences Department since October 2017. He is also member of Transitions. Unité de recherches Moyen Âge & première Modernité. His research, pertaining to both Court Studies and religious history, aims at reassessing the nature and modalities of the power at the Brussels court during the 17th century. He defended a thesis dedicated to the Princely confessor in Spanish Low Countries (1598-1659). This work, written under direction of Prof. Annick Delfosse (ULiège), addresses the nature of the links between secular and religious powers within the court. It will be published soon with Leuven University Press, in the Avisos de Flandes series.

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Christine Renardy

Le Livre des morts du Neufmoustier à Huy 1130-1787, Bruxelles, Commission royale d’Histoire, 2017, 270 p. (ISBN 978-2-87044-015-5) (Collection grand in-8°, C26).

The author
Christine Renardy (born 6th February 1948) received her bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Liège. She worked for three years on behalf of the Royal Historical Commission drafting the "New Potthast" (a critical guide of narrative sources relating to the Middle Ages) before taking up the post of assistant to professors Fernand Vercauteren and André Joris at the seminar of History of the Middle Ages at the University of Liège in 1972. In October 1977 she defended a doctoral thesis on "The world of university masters in the diocese of Liège up to 1350", later published in two volumes in 1979 and 1981. In April 1978 she was appointed as archivist of the City of Liège, a department that she led until 2007 when the municipal authorities entrusted her with the management of all collections relating to cultural heritage. Finally, in 2009 she was assigned to the general coordination of the Culture and Tourism Department, a post that she held until her retirement.

In the early years of the 12th century a mixed community spontaneously established itself in an outlying area of Huy, probably in memory of a priest called ‘Peter the Hermit’. On the 21st September 1130 the Bishop of Liège, Alexander I, consecrated the church of Neufmoustier, which had recently been built. It has been proved that from that time on the priests followed the doctrine of Saint Augustine. Fortunately the liber capitulimanuscript of this regular chapter has been preserved, but it is damaged. It was conceived around 1130 and was completed through the centuries – concerning obituaries it continues up to 1787. This death register contains significant information that not only enriches our knowledge of the urban, economic and social history in the late Middle Ages, but also of the attitudes, worship and liturgy, without forgetting the goldsmith’s trade in the Meuse valley. Text referring to non-clergy (only eight people) becomes rare and sporadic from the end of the 15th century, as the register was in fact reserved for dignitaries and a few members of the chapter of Huy. This edition of "Livre des morts du Neufmoustier" is mainly based on the original manuscript which is preserved at the Grand Curtius Museum ; the gaps caused by the loss of some pages was largely compensated for by copies made by a chapter clerk at the end of the 17th century kept in the State Archives of Liège (fonds du Neufmoustier).

Patricia Van den Eeckhout & Guy Vanthemsche, eds.

Sources pour l’étude de la Belgique contemporaine, 19e-21e siècle, Bruxelles, Commission royale d'Histoire, 2017, 2 vol., 1844 p. (ISBN: 978-2-87044-014-8; prix: 64 €).

Notre société produit un flux incessant de documents, d’images et d’autres sources. Il n’est pas facile de maîtriser cette masse croissante d’informations. Ce livre se présente comme un « guide de voyage » dans ce dédale : il offre un aperçu systématique ainsi qu’une analyse critique des sources qui ont été produites en Belgique depuis le début du 19e siècle jusqu’à nos jours, tant par les institutions publiques que par les organisations privées. Il abord à la fois les sources d’archives et les documents imprimés et digitaux. De nombreux individus ont également produit des sources importantes ; cette production trouve également sa place dans le présent ouvrage, tout comme les sources non écrites (photographies, films, témoignages oraux, bâtiments, objets, cartes et plans).
Cet ouvrage inclut les sources les plus récentes. Il est donc un instrument de recherche indispensable, non seulement pour les historiens, les étudiants en histoire et les archivistes, mais également pour les journalistes, les documentalistes, les bibliothécaires et les chercheurs en sciences de la communication, en sociologie, en sciences politiques, en économie et en droit. 
Plus de 60 spécialistes, attachés à diverses universités et institutions de recherche et d’archives du pays ont apporté leur concours à l’élaboration de ce livre. Un index détaillé des noms de personnes, d’auteurs et de matières, établi par Stijn Meersseman, facilite l’utilisation de cet instrument de recherche.
Les éditeurs:

Patricia Van den Eeckhout
enseigne l'histoire et la rhétorique politique à la Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Elle a publié sur l'historiographie de l'histoire sociale et sur l'histoire du logement social, des revenus ouvriers, de la consommation, de la publicité, du temps libre, des statistiques sociales, des contremaîtres, du commerce de détail (notamment Delhaize), du travail et des relations du travail, notamment dans l'horeca (voir entre autres "Waiters, Waitresses, and their Tips in Western Europe before World War I", in International Review of Social History, 2015, p. 349-378)

Guy Vanthemsche
est professeur d’histoire contemporaine à la Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Il est un spécialiste de l’histoire sociale, économique et politique de la Belgique contemporaine. Il a consacré plusieurs ouvrages à ce sujet, notamment La Sabena et l’aviation commerciale belge 1923-2001, Bruxelles, De Boeck, 2001 et Belgium and the Congo 1880-1980, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Bulletin de la Commision royale d’Histoire, 2017 (183), 254 p.

Bulletin de la Commision royale d'Histoire, 2016 (182), 419 p.

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Alain Lottin

"L'Héraclée flamen et catholicque" par Frère Jean De Le Barre, religieux du monastère de la bienheureuse Vierge Marie à Loos-Lez-Lille. Tome 1: La guerre entre la France et l'Espagne et en Europe (1636-1649)
, Bruxelles, Commision royale d'Histoire, 2017, 371 p. (ISBN: 978-2-87044-012-4)

Summary - L’Héraclée flamen (L’Hercule flamand): ce titre ésotérique est un hommage au comte de Bucquoy, vainqueur des protestants à Prague. Ce livre contient la transcription annotée et commentée du manuscrit 319 du fonds patrimonial de la bibliothèque municipale de Lille, intitulé l’« Héraclée flamen et catholicque », consacré essentiellement à la guerre franco-espagnole de 1636 à 1649 et à la guerre en Europe jusqu’aux traités de Westphalie (1648). Son auteur, Jean de le Barre, est un religieux cistercien de l’abbaye de Loos-lez-Lille, détaché comme père-confesseur à l’abbaye du Vivier à Wancourt près d’Arras. C’est là qu’à partir de 1636, il vit, aux avant-postes, la guerre « pépinière de tous maux », les invasions de l’Artois et la prise d’Arras (1640) par les Français. Après 1643, il se réfugie avec une partie des religieuses à Douai. Jean de le Barre, comme ses contemporains, pense que la guerre est un fléau de Dieu. La France et ses alliés hollandais, suédois, protestants allemands, conduits par la politique machiavélique de deux « monstrueux » ministres, Richelieu et Mazarin qui, pourtant cardinaux de l’Église romaine, subordonnent la religion à l’État. Pour lui Dieu ne peut avoir abandonné les Habsbourg de Madrid et de Vienne, remparts de la chrétienté contre « l’ennemi commun », les Turcs. Grande est sa déception de voir la guerre entre la France et l’Espagne continuer après la paix de Westphalie. L’auteur rapporte les combats, les terribles  violences subies par les populations civiles, pillages, rapts, viols, exécutions, incendies d’églises et de villages par des mercenaires des deux côtés. En 1645, en Artois « plus de la mitan des hommes étaient morts par la guerre et contagion. On ne voyoit que des loups ». Ce témoignage exceptionnel introduit, transcrit et annoté par le professeur Alain Lottin et doté d’un volumineux index est paru en mai 2017. En 2010, la Commission royale d’Histoire de Belgique a publié la chronique intégrale de P.I. Chavatte, ouvrier lillois au temps de Louis XIV, ouvrage qui en 2011 obtint la médaille de vermeil de l’Académie française.

L'auteur/éditeur :
Alain Lottin, docteur en Histoire, a été président de l'Université de Lille III de 1986 à 1991 puis de l'Université d'Artois de 1996 à 2000.