Urban public space was a forum for political contests between cities of the Low Countries—particularly Ghent—and the late medieval Burgundian state. Contrary to much of the scholarship on the Low Countries' urban history of the late Middle Ages, civic space was independentof marketact ivities, however important these activities were. In the long fierce contests over rights and privileges waged by the late medieval cities of the southern Low Countries against princely hegemony, possession of civic spaces became the ultimate sign of political legitimacy. But their ultimate possessors often destroyed them, thus ending their power to confer legitimacy on future challengers and/or erasing memory of their defilement at the hands of pretenders.

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