Postdoctoral position: PARDONS project


Job offer: Postdoctoral Researcher, BRAIN/PARDONS (80%, 48 months)

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The PARDONS project (‘Topographies of Pardon Tales: Contextual Mapping of Pardon Letters in the Southern Low Countries, 15th-17th c.’) is a four-year research project funded by the BELSPO research programme BRAIN-be 2.0 and carried out by a team of researchers from the State Archives of Belgium, UCLouvain, and KU Leuven. The purpose of this project it to make publicly accessible the vast collections of pardon letters granted by the Burgundian and Habsburg rulers and available at the National Archives in Belgium, in order to provide an innovative history of power and social relations in the early modern Low Countries, including at moments of political and religious tensions such as the Dutch Revolt. These thousands of pardon letters are one of the most prominent items in the early modern archival heritage of the Low Countries, not only because of the richness of their narrative structures and legal contents, but also because of the exceptionally long time span they cover. These fascinating collections of stories of violence, conflict, and disruption of daily lives are an invaluable part of the material and cultural heritage in Belgium.

This project aims to digitize, index, and transcribe a coherent set of pardon letters from the State Archives of Belgium. Moreover, the creation of a dedicated web application will provide unlimited digital access to these letters to a large audience. Building on the thick description of the stories described in the pardon letters, we aim to reconstruct the discourses, legal strategies, and concerns of the offenders and how these offenders dealt with the revendications of the victims, who sometimes opposed the granting of a pardon. We also aim to map the power structures behind the use of pardons and show how the use of pardons served as an instrument of peace management, in response to social and political conflicts. By retelling the hidden stories from pardon collections, this project could even enable contemporary people to connect with a forgotten past.

Job description (postdoctoral position, 0.8 FTE, 48 months):

As a postdoctoral researcher and an active member of the research team, you will closely work with an archivist and a PhD student hired by the other partners (National Archives in Belgium and KU Leuven). Your primary role is to contribute to the collection, digitization, and transcription of the Burgundian and Habsburg pardon letters preserved in the National Archives in Belgium. You will also carry out research on the narrative content of these pardon letters (crime descriptions, rhetorical techniques, legal arguments) as well as on the role of pardoning in conflict resolution in the late medieval and early modern Low Countries, 1500-1700. You will have a significant role in the construction of the research database and website. Finally, you will actively participate in the valorisation of the results of the project, by participating in conferences and workshops, organizing research events, and publishing articles in international journals.

Working environment:

UCLouvain – Institute for Civilization, Arts & Letters, Centre for Law & Justice history

Profile requirements:

  • A PhD in History or a related field, with a specialization in the early modern period
  • Experience in middle French and middle Dutch archival sources, including palaeography
  • Active knowledge of modern English, and at least passive knowledge of modern French and Dutch
  • Good team-working and communication skills, including the ability to closely work with the other partners of the project
  • Willingness to strongly contribute to the research project, present at international conferences and workshops, and publish the results of the research

Additional skills:

  • Experience in working on legal and criminal court records
  • Knowledge in the fields of social history, criminal justice history and the history of the early modern Low Countries (15th-17th centuries)
  • Experience in the digitisation of archival documents, management and creation of databases and websites
  • A good record of research and publication related to the topics of the project

Starting date:

  • 15 July 2021

How to apply:

Published on March 23, 2021