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M. (Meggy) Lennaerts, MA

PhD student
Profile picture of M. (Meggy) Lennaerts, MA

'Goede vriend en nabuur': Jurisdictional Politics in the region Groningen/East Frisia between 1600-1900.

My research dives into the use of jurisdictions by border dwellers, migrants and border managers in Groningen - East Frisia (Germany). Recent studies have proven that early modern people knew how to navigate law and jurisdiction in their local places. They had to shape and construct an identity that worked for, for example, the royal, local, or ecclesiastical courts (depending on the location.) Border dwellers had the luxurious position of being near the border, thus the end of a jurisdiction. Yet, especially in the early modern period, the border was not set in stone. Additionally, an administrative border could differ from a cultural or ecclesiastical one. This makes the border a relational construct, the core of the transregional history theory developed by Violet Soen et all.

This study takes this concept as a starting point and argues that border dwellers were aware of their exceptional position at the end of a jurisdictional border and used it to their advantage. Especially in the Groningen - East Frisia region, the inhabitants shared a cultural background as part of the Frisian Freedom and spoke similar dialects (plattdeutch). This raises the question of whether they also shared comparable practices regarding their use of law and jurisdictions. If so, how did they use their knowledge to their advantage?

By identifying case studies, this study aims to answer these questions. The first case study researches the origins of Bunderneuland, a polder embanked by Amsterdam merchants in 1605. Right next to the border, most people crossed it to go to Nieuweschans for baptisms and marriages. Landowners of Bunderneuland even lived in Nieuweschans or Groningen, but their property fell under the jurisdiction of East Frisia. This study analyzes conflict, like the origins of Bunderneuland or troops marching through their lands, and looks at cooperation practices between the different villages in their struggle against the Dollard.

The second case study researches the garrisons stationed in Emden and Leerort. Although they might have been military men from the Dutch Republic, they were stationed in East Frisia. What if they married locally? How did they negotiate their different identities?

The other case studies are coming soon.

I am also interested in Digital Humanities, Historical Humor Studies, the early modern Low Countries, memory studies, identity politics.

Last modified:26 April 2024 10.23 a.m.