Schrijven voor de schepenbank: De ontwikkeling van bestuurlijke pragmatische geletterdheid op het Noordbrabantse platteland (de Meierij van ‘s-Hertogenbosch, ca. 1300-1550)

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


This thesis is dedicated to the question how late medieval rural community interacted with the written word and what the latter’s role was within the administrative structures. Traditionally the written word is considered a method of communication connected mainly to cities, as urban governments, merchants and others were seen as the main proponents of writing. On the other hand, the countryside is considered to have known no impulses for increasing literacy: local knowledge and oral agreements sufficed. Furthermore the number of literate peasants was expected to have been extremely low.
For this thesis the Bailiwick of ‘s-Hertogenbosch has been selected as case study. The Bailiwick was part of the duchy of Brabant and included what is the larger part of the province Noord-Brabant at present. By analysing the administrative scribal activity, primarily charters, we were able to pinpoint when and where scribes were active. It has become clear that they were personally responsible for introducing the written word to the smaller villages and hamlets, as they travelled through the region and recorded legal acts at the behest of the village governments. Since these legal acts were voluntary in nature, the majority of the Bailiwick’s peasants were brought into contact with the written word, even though they were not able to read and write themselves.
Original languageDutch
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Mostert, Marco, Primary supervisor
Award date6 Nov 2020
Print ISBNs978-94-6421-042-2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2020


  • Middeleeuwen
  • Geletterdheid
  • Paleografie
  • Oorkondenleer
  • Platteland
  • Noord-Brabant

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