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The Burgundian Netherlands
The term "Netherlandish" is applied to northern Renaissance art produced in the region that includes present-day Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and portions of northern France. For most of the 15th century this territory was ruled by the dukes of Burgundy, a cadet line of the Valois kings of France. After the death of Duke Charles the Bold in 1477 and the marriage of his daughter, Mary of Burgundy, to Emperor Maximilian I, the Burgundian Netherlands became part of the Holy Roman Empire, which included Austria, Germany, and Spain. In 1519 Maximilian's daughter, Margaret of Austria, was appointed regent and governess of the Netherlands by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
In the 15th and early 16th centuries the power and influence of the Burgundian Netherlands far outweighed its relatively small size. The courts of the dukes of Burgundy were among the richest in Europe, and young men from the other areas were routinely sent there to be educated in noble and chivalrous behavior. Moreover, the region was a mercantile and financial hub of northern Europe. For most of the 15th century Bruges was a center for both banking and the production of luxury goods. In the early 16th century economic dominance shifted to Antwerp, home of a lively import-export trade and the Bourse, or financial exchange. Art also flourished, and the Netherlands, along with Italy, was one of the preeminent centers of painting in the Renaissance.
Copyright © 2008 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC