M.L. Craane, Spatial Patterns: The Late Medieval and Early-Modern Movement Economy of the Bailiwick of 's Hertogenbosch from an Interregional, Regional and Local Spatial Perspective

Sam Griffiths
2015 BMGN: Low Countries Historical Review  
Perspective (PhD Tilburg University 2013; Tilburg: [Marlous Craane], 2013, 230 pp., ISBN 978 90 820642 0 9). In Spatial Patterns, a monograph based on her PhD research at Tilburg University (Netherlands), Marlous Craane provides an exhaustively researched and analytically rigorous account of the medieval economy of 's-Hertogenbosch, a Bailiwick in what is now the Dutch province of North Brabant. Her study investigates the relationship between urbanization and economic development at the
more » ... scale, deploying network concepts such as accessibility to problematize the conventional hierarchy of town and hinterland that, she argues, endorses a simplistic contrast between the 'dynamic' urban and 'passive' rural domains. This conceptual emphasis allows her to draw attention to the diverse material cultures that characterized the smaller settlements of the Bailiwick beyond the principal market centre of 's-Hertogenbosch itself, which she presents as discrete components of a dynamic socio-economic system. Craane is aware how deploying 'town' and 'country' as analytical categories risks assigning arbitrary significance to physical or administrative boundaries at a cost to acknowledging the socio-economic relationships which enable the flow of goods, people and information across boundaries. In response she proposes a 'symbiotic' relation between town and country in the Bailiwick of 's-Hertogenbosch, a hypothesis she develops by focusing on the role of spatial infrastructure, particularly road and river networks, in producing and sustaining socio-economic relationships at different geographical scales from the local to the interregional. This approach does not imply a spatially-reductive focus. On the contrary, Craane carefully guides the reader through impressively wide-ranging analyses of the topographical, economic, demographic and political histories of 's-Hertogenbosch Bailiwick, drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary sources to do so. This thorough contextualization lends credibility to the central analytical proposition of the thesis: that the economic history of 's-Hertogenbosch is best served by understanding the role of spatial infrastructure in organizing commercial activity at the regional scale of the Bailiwick, rather than privileging the town as a 'central place'. What distinguishes Craane's study is a methodologically innovative attempt to
doi:10.18352/bmgn-lchr.9910 fatcat:7jx4naajire7ph6hfvzxylcfqe