Marcus van Vaernewijck


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(b Ghent, 21 Dec 1516; d Ghent, 20 Feb 1569). South Netherlandish writer and poet. He was a public servant in Ghent: guardian of the poorhouse in 1563, alderman in 1564, headman of seven craft corporations, and in 1566 he became controller of the grain depot. He was a fervent Catholic and led the civic guard responsible for reporting to the authorities on the religious convictions of the people of Ghent and foreigners in the city. In 1560 he published Vlaemsche audvremdigheyt, a poem on Flemish history in four parts. Den spieghel der Nederlandscher audtheyt was published eight times between 1568 and 1829; in essence a history of Flanders from antiquity until 1568, this bizarre mixture of reality and fantasy is historically unreliable. However, the last chapters contain interesting information concerning the city of Ghent and its art treasures, including the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck. Vaernewijck's diary, consisting of 10 books written between 1566 and 1568, is historically more reliable and of more importance to the art historian. It provides information concerning the Protestant secret preachings (Flem. Hagepreken), the iconoclastic riots and a systematic review of the destruction of works of art in Ghent, the ill-fated attack by Prince William I of Orange-Nassau on Spanish forces in October–November 1568 and the subsequent repression of the Flemish people by the Duque de Alba and the Spanish. These books are an important primary source for factual evidence as well as for understanding the popular mentality that shaped Flemish culture in Ghent in a period of religious transformation.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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