Praet, Bronkhorst en Boetzelaer Adellijke weduwes in de bres voor het calvinisme tijdens en na de Beeldenstorm (1566-1567)


Nina Valkeneers

Violet Soen


Recently, historiography on early modem France has established the crucial role
of noblewomen - and particularly of no bie widows - in propagating the Calvinist
Faith during the sixteenth-century Wars of Religion. This article unravels this very
same phenomenon for the Habsburg Low Countries, concentrating on the eve and
the aftermath of the Iconoclastic Fury in the year 1566. After the death of their husbands,
the related noblewomen Petronella van Praet-Moerkerken, Catharina van Bronckhorst-
Batenburg and Catharina van Boetzelaer became influential and instrumental in
spreading Calvinism in their dominions, even when the Habsburg government took specific
measures to prohibit their support for the 'new religion' and tried to interfere in the
seigniorial administration. The Iconoclastic Fury certainly enabled these three noblewomen
to perform activities which were not normally ascribed to their gender, such as
offering shelter for coreligionists and organizing religious resistance and even iconoclasm.
Compared with their spouses and male siblings defending their confession in
leagues and battles, however, their action radius as women seems to have been confined
chiefly to the limits of their lordships.