Arie-Jan Gelderblom, Jan L. de Jong, and Marc van Vaeck, eds. The Low Countries as a Crossroads of Religious Beliefs.
Intersections: Yearbook for Early Modern Studies 3 (2003). Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2004. viii + 332 pp. + 11 b/w pls. index. $155. ISBN: 90-04-12288-5.
In his contribution to this eclectic volume, Paul Arblaster describes Antwerp in the 1520s-40s not as a crossroads, where people and ideas "meet and converse, " but rather as a "roundabout with traffic lights, where traffic going in different directions was kept carefully separate" (11). The metaphor could aptly be applied to this book, which contains thirteen essays, only a minority of which focus clearly on the theme announced in the book's title. The others treat a wide variety of topics in the religious history of the Low Countries in the early modern era.
To call the Low Countries a "crossroads" of religious beliefs is to suggest that they were a point of intersection--a place where people of different beliefs encountered and interacted with one another. That they certainly were, both the southern and northern provinces in the sixteenth century, and the northern ones thereafter. It is also to suggest that people and religious influences from diverse parts of Europe flowed into and out of the Low Countries. Again, this is most emphatically true, a consequence of the Low Countries' geographic position, their function as central node of the early modern economy, and their many export industries, which notably included both art and books. Studying the circulation of religious art and books offers a particularly concrete way to trace these interactions and influences. It is an approach taken by several contributors to this volume....