‘Men and books under watch’: the Brussels’ book market in the mid-sixteenth century through the inquisitorial archives


Buying and Selling : The Early Book Trade and the International Marketplace, Brill Academic Publishers, 2019, pp. 303-321

Renaud Adam 1, 2, 3

1 LE STUDIUM Institute for Advanced Studies, 45000 Orléans, France
2 Université de Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgique
3 CESR - Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance UMR 7323, France


The starting point for this paper are the archives produced by the so-called Council of Troubles, the special court established by Philip II in response to the uprising and misbehaviour of parts of the population of the Low Countries in the years 1566–1567. This institution remained active from 1567 to 1576 and was commanded by the Duke of Alva. In particular, being well aware of the potential of those cultural objects and carriers of ideas, it watched very closely the production, the distribution as well as the possession of books. The documents contain inventories of thousands of books – either forbidden or not – found in bookshops located in the southern provinces. I will focus my paper on the 12 bookshops located in Brussels visited in 1568 by religious authorities, and especially in that of Michiel van Hamont, printer from 1557 to 1585. The repressive measures taken by the Duke of Alva will be the entry point of a study on the state of book culture in Brussels during the last third of the sixteenth century.


XVIe siècle
Published by

Buying and Selling : The Early Book Trade and the International Marketplace