Who I am

Oud Leuven: #3 S. Gheertruydts kerck, Clooster, abdie

Name on the map: S. Gheertruydts kerck, Clooster, abdie
Other names: –
Current name: Sint-Geertruikerk, Sint-Geertruisabdij

The origins of the Saint Gertrude’s Abbey in Leuven dates back to a 12-century chapel that was transformed by Duke Henry I in 1206 to a priory for Augustinian cannons. The new church of the priory, that was built soon after 1206, became the parish chuch of the newly founded Saint Gertrude’s parish – one of the parishes in the inner city of Leuven that split from the main Saint Peter’s parish. Thanks to the financial support of Duke John I in 1298, the parish was further built up and its property enlarged to both banks of the River Dijle. Important but unidentified construction work was described by its Parish Priest Godefroid d’Udekem (1307-1320) and a large part of reconstruction took place after a fire in 1326. Read more

Oud Leuven: #1 Sint-Pieterskerk

Name on the map: S. Pieters kercke
Other names: –
Current name: Sint-Pieterskerk

De collegiale Sint-Pieterskerk is a Roman Catholitc church in Leuven, built in the Brabant Gothic style. Many well-known Late-Gothic masters were involved in its building, in the course of the 15th century, including Sulpitius van Vorst, Jan II Keldermans and Matthijs de Layens. Until the 17th century, the church still remained unfinished; two western towers never reached their full intended height. It was due to the patronage of the Apostle Peter, at the Saint Peter’s Church, that Leuven inhabitants earned the nickname of Peetermannen. (Source) Read more

The Self-Identification of the Other: How Flanders came to be the Name of the Region Today

Today, Flanders refers to the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium. But what about the provinces of East and West Flanders? Why is it that the region took on the name of a County that existed on the western end of the country? To any historian, the name ‘Flemish Brabant’ sounds like an oxymoron, because Brabant was itself a Duchy, a centre of economic prowess and the seat of power of the Duchy of Burgundy. On the same note, for a Limburger or an Antwerper to call himself ‘Flemish’ sounds positively bizarre. Why can they not just call themselves ‘northern Belgians’?

In the search for an answer to this situation, this article will examine the historic and political context in which Flanders was defined over the last two thousand years. At the same time, the article will inadvertently try to untangle the vital differences in the perspectives of the Dutch and French language communities and their societies, which are often clouded in the highly-politicised discourse of the media and politicians here. Read more

The Art of Saying ‘No’: ‘Naying’ Among the British, the Belgians and the Chinese

Having lived in Belgium for more than a decade, I have come to notice the *Northern Belgians’ penchant for anything British: British TV, British comedians, British humour, British soaps… I guess it comes from the steady diet of BBC television and the often undubbed telecast of BBC programmes on Belgian channels, the country being such a small market itself. Read more