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Local antiquities, local identitiesArt, literature and antiquarianism in Europe, c. 1400–1700$
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Kathleen Christian and Bianca de Divitiis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526117045

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526117045.001.0001

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On Romans, Batavians and giants: the quest for the true origin of architecture in the Dutch Republic

On Romans, Batavians and giants: the quest for the true origin of architecture in the Dutch Republic

(p.261) 12 On Romans, Batavians and giants: the quest for the true origin of architecture in the Dutch Republic
Local antiquities, local identities

Konrad Ottenheym

Manchester University Press

In 1631 the Dutch painter and architect Salomon de Bray wrote that it was a common mistake to regard the move towards a more classical architecture as fashionably modern. Instead, he argued, it was actually the revival the true and eldest manner of building in the Low Countries. The notion that the Low Countries had once been part of the Roman Empire helped inspire scholarly architects to introduce classical models into contemporary architecture. This essay investigates this tendency by asking how and why the Roman past became such an important topic during this period, despite a lack of remaining Roman buildings, and which alternative heroic pasts were available to account for the origins of architecture. Various historical descriptions of Netherlandish towns include references to local ancient history and Roman remains. Some of these antiquities were authentically Roman, even to modern archaeological scholarship (like Brittenburg), while others were certainly not. Antiquarian and archaeological interest focused on the era of the Batavians, a Germanic tribe living in what later became Holland who were politically independent from Rome, as well as on an even older local past, traced in were thought to be the material remains of an ancient tribe of giants.

Keywords:   Dutch Republic, Dutch architecture, Brittenburg, Batavians, Dutch antiquarianism, Giants, Roman Netherlands

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