The Elder Peter Bruegel, 1528 (?)-1569

The Elder Peter Bruegel, 1528 (?)-1569

The Elder Peter Bruegel, 1528 (?)-1569

The Elder Peter Bruegel, 1528 (?)-1569

Excerpt

It is customary, in discussing a painter long dead, to assemble a few historical facts about his period, to show, even though superficially, how his art was shaped by his times. This is not an easy matter, but with a copy of Ploetz Manual of Universal History at hand, there is no reason for us to breach the convention. We can give you some notion of what was going on when Peter Bruegel was born . . . between 1520 and 1530 A. D.

Flanders, the painter's country, was part of the Netherlands, a group of 17 provinces occupying the flat lowlands along the North Sea: the Holland, Belgium, and Northern France of today. At first these provinces had been feudal states but gradually, in the course of the 13th and 14th Centuries, the important towns had become so wealthy from the manufacture of wool that they were able to buy charters for themselves. There arose a number of municipalities, practically self-governing republics, who were semi-independent vassals of feudal overlords. In many cases, the early oligarchic systems of municipal government had given way to more democratic institutions. In Bruges, for example, apprentices over 16 were allowed to vote, and in Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, and Liege analagous situations prevailed. In the 15th . . .

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