Just Another Day in the Neighborhood: Collective Female Donation Practices at the Hospital of Saint John in Brussels

  • Tiffany A. Ziegler
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter examines female donations given to the thirteenth-century hospital of Saint John in Brussels that help to reveal the greater transitive nature of female pious gifts in the high Middle Ages. Practices, such as the alienation of property to religious institutions, which were once available to only noblewomen, were adopted by women living in urban centers. Some of the urban women donors occupied an elite status, i.e., wife of the castellan, alderman, or knights, while others came from the more common ranks. The donations at the hospital of Saint John provide a reassessment of traditional male and female spaces within the city structure. They demonstrate that female donors were as typical and as powerful as their male counterparts.


Primary Sources

  1. Cartulaire de l’Hôpital Saint-Jean de Bruxelles (Actes des XIIe et XIIIe Siècles). Edited by Paul Bonenfant. Brussels: Palais des Académies, 1953.Google Scholar
  2. Brussels, Centre Public d’Action Sociale de Bruxelles (CPAS): SJ 29, 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 44 (folios 2, 3, 5, and 6), and 46.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

  1. Arnade, Peter, Martha C. Howell, and Walter Simons. “Fertile Spaces: The Productivity of Urban Space in Northern Europe.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 32:4 (2002): 515–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bijsterveld, Arnoud-Jan A. Do ut des: Gift Giving, Memoria, and Conflict Management in the Medieval Low Countries. Hilversum: Verloren, 2007.Google Scholar
  3. Bitel, Lisa M. Women in Early Medieval Europe 400–1100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  4. Bonenfant, Paul. “Les premiers remparts de Bruxelles.” Annales de la Société royale d’archéologie de Bruxelles 40 (1936): 426–441.Google Scholar
  5. ———. D’Histoire des Hôpitaux. Brussels, Annales de la Société Belge, 1965.Google Scholar
  6. Cassidy-Welch, Megan. “Space and Place in Medieval Contexts.” Parergon 27:2 (2010): 1–12.Google Scholar
  7. Charruadas, Paul. “The Cradle of the City: The Environmental Imprint of Brussels and Its Hinterland in the High Middle Ages.” Regional Environmental Change 12 (2012): 255–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cherryhomes, Rawlins. “Charity in Brussels: The Hospital Saint John (1186–1300).” Unpublished Master’s Thesis: University of Texas, 1963.Google Scholar
  9. Dickstein-Bernard, Claire. “Activité économique et développement urbain à Bruxelles (XIIIe-XVe siècles).” Cahiers Bruxellois 24 (1981): 52–62.Google Scholar
  10. de Vries, André. Brussels: A Cultural and Literary History. Oxford: Signal Books, 2003.Google Scholar
  11. Evrard, Paul. “Formation, organization generale et état du domaine rural de l’hôpital Saint Jean au Moyen-Age.” Unpublished Master’s Thesis: Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1965.Google Scholar
  12. Hinnebusch, John Frederick. The Historia Occidentalis of Jacques de Vitry: A Critical Edition. Fribourg: The University Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  13. Howell, Martha C. “The Spaces of Late Medieval Urbanity.” In Shaping Urban Identity in Late Medieval Europe, edited by Marc Boone and Peter Stabel, 3–24. Leuven-Apeldoorn: Garant, 2000.Google Scholar
  14. Hutton, Shennan. “Married Women and Legal Capability in Ghent.” In Married Women and the Law in Premodern Northwest Europe, edited by Cordelia Beattie and Matthew Frank Stevens, 155–172. Gender in the Middle Ages 8. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  15. Jordan, Erin. “Female Founders: Exercising Authority in Thirteenth-Century Flanders and Hainaut.” Church History and Religious Culture 88:4 (2008): 535–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. LeFebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. Malden: Blackwell, 1991.Google Scholar
  17. Marriage, Family and Law in Medieval Europe: Collected Studies. Edited by Michael M. Sheehan and James K. Farge. Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  18. Martens, Mina. Histoire de Bruxelles. Brussels: Privat, 1976.Google Scholar
  19. McNamara, Jo Ann, and Suzanne Wemple. “The Power of Women Through the Family in Medieval Europe: 500–1100.” Feminist Studies 1:3/4 (1973): 126–141.Google Scholar
  20. Nicolaisen, W. F. H. “Tension and Extension: Thoughts on Scottish Surnames and Medieval Popular Culture.” In Popular Culture in the Middle Ages, edited by Josie P. Campbell, 88–99. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1986.Google Scholar
  21. Ockeley, Jaak. De gasthuiszusters en hun ziekenzorg in het aartsbisdom Mechelen in de 17de en de 18de eeuw: deel 1. Brussels: Algemeen Rijksarchief, 1992.Google Scholar
  22. ———. “Ziekenzorg te Brussel van de 12de tot de 19de eeuw, inzonderheid in het Sint-Jansgasthuisop-de-Poel.” Momenten uit de geschiedenis van Brussel. Centrum Brabantse Geschiedenis: Brussels: 2000.Google Scholar
  23. Painter, Sidney. “The Family and the Feudal System in Twelfth-Century England.” Speculum 35 (1960): 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Petit, Jean-Luc. Brussels in the Middle Ages. Musées de la Ville de Bruxelles: Bruxelles, n.d.Google Scholar
  25. Pollock, F., and F. W. Maitland. The History of English Law, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911. Google Scholar
  26. Reaney, P. H. A Dictionary of British Surnames. London: Routledge and Keagen Paul, 1958.Google Scholar
  27. Rosenwein, Barbara H. Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  28. Simons, Walter. Cities of Ladies. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  29. Skinner, Patricia. Medieval Amalfi and Its Diaspora, 800–1250. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. State, Paul F. Historical Dictionary of Brussels. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015.Google Scholar
  31. The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Vol. 2: Trade and Industry in the Middle Ages. Edited by M. M. Postan and Edward Miller. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  32. Verhulst, Adriaan. The Rise of Cities in North-West Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vleeschouwers-Van Melkebeek, Monique. “Separation and Marital Property in Late Medieval England and the Franco-Belgian Region.” In Regional Variations in Matrimonial Law and Custom, edited by Mia Korpiola, 77–98. Medieval Law and Its Practice 12. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011.Google Scholar
  34. Wauters, Alphonse. “Les Plus Anciens Échevins de la ville de Bruxelles.” Annales de la Société d’Archéologie de Bruxelles: Mémoires, Rapports et Documents 8 (1894): 315–331.Google Scholar
  35. White, Stephen D. Custom, Kinship, and Gifts to Saints: The Laudatio Parentum in Western France, 1050–1150. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  36. Ziegler, Tiffany A. “Considering Charity: Family Traditions, Female Donation Practices, and the Hospital of Saint John, Brussels.” Medieval Prosopography 29 (2015): 51–74.Google Scholar
  37. ———. Medieval Healthcare and Charitable Institutions: The History of the Municipal Hospital. Palgrave Pivot, November 2018.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiffany A. Ziegler
    • 1
  1. 1.Midwestern State UniversityWichita FallsUSA

Personalised recommendations