Pieter Martens

GEMCA Research Fellow

Institut des civilisations, arts et lettres (INCAL)
Postdoctoral Researcher FNRS, Architectural History

Research Fields

• Renaissance Architecture and Urbanism
  • Fortifications, Engineering, Siege Warfare (16th century)
  • Urban Iconography (16th century)

Pieter Martens (°1976) studied architectural engineering at the University of Leuven. For his master thesis on the early baroque pilgrimage church of Scherpenheuvel (Montaigu), he also studied at the Università La Sapienza in Rome. In 1999 he became a member of the research group Architectural History and Conservation at the University of Leuven to work on military engineering in the 16th-century Low Countries. He also carried out research for the exhibition on the Renaissance prince Pierre-Ernest de Mansfeld at the MNHA in Luxembourg in 2007, and worked on a VNC research project on the influence of Netherlandish architecture in Europe. His PhD thesis (2009) examined the development of military architecture and siege warfare in the Low Countries 1531-1555, and was awarded with the Erik Duverger Prize of the Royal Academy (for its use of archival sources) and the Justus Lipsius Award of ICOMAM (for its contribution to military history). From 2010 to 2013 he was a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), with a research project on the iconography of cities and sieges. From 2010 to 2015 he was the programme coordinator of the Research Networking Programme PALATIUM on court residences, financed by the European Science Foundation. Since 2013 he is a postdoctoral fellow of the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS). He is a member of the Jonge Academie and a Laureate (Class of Arts) of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.

Current research project

Warrior Kings and the Red Queen effect. Arms races and the rise of artillery fortresses in the Anglo-French-Netherlandish border region, 1513–1559.
The project examines the hypothesis that the rulers of 16th-century France, England and the Netherlands were locked in an arms race which expressed itself most notably in the rise of artillery fortresses along their frontiers. From 1513 to 1559 their border region was a major theatre of war and a prime laboratory for key advances in siegecraft and fortress design. That these advances nonetheless concurred with a territorial stalemate is reminiscent of a principle which in evolutionary biology is known as the Red Queen effect; it implies that competitors will co-evolve when there is a positive feedback loop between them. Accordingly the project entails not just a comparative study of parallel developments in the three states, but new research into interactions and knowledge transfers between them. For the first time this border zone will be studied as an entity in se, and subjected to a transnational perspective. Focusing on the planning of fortresses, the project investigates the role of the rulers, the part of (Italian) engineers and other actors, and the genesis of new fortification methods. The ‘fortress revolution’ was of central importance in the whole conflict and closely related to other fields, from arms and architecture to cartography and court culture. Ultimately the project may show how a prolonged border conflict leads not only to opposition and varied arms races, but to interaction and cross-border exchanges, resulting in a common ‘culture of war’ on all sides.

Most representative publications

N. Faucherre, P. Martens, H. Paucot (eds.), La genèse du système bastionné en Europe/The genesis of the bastioned system in Europe 1500-1550, Navarrenx, CHA, 2014.

W. Bracke, P. Martens, "A New View on the World. The Cartographic and Chorographic Publications of Hieronymus Cock", in: J. Van Grieken, G. Luijten, J. Van der Stock (eds.), Hieronymus Cock. The Renaissance in Print (exhibition catalogue Leuven/Paris), New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013, pp. 58-67.

P. Martens, “Siege warfare (early modern)”, in: G. Martel (ed.), The Encyclopedia of War, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, vol. IV, pp. 1987-1994.

P. Martens, "La puissance de l’artillerie de Charles Quint au milieu du XVIe siècle: le siège de Thérouanne en 1553", in: N. Prouteau, E. de Crouy-Chanel, N. Faucherre (eds.), Artillerie et fortification 1200-1600, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2011, pp. 119-142, pl. VII-IX.

P. Martens, "La défense des Pays-Bas et l’architecture militaire pendant la régence de Marie de Hongrie (1531-1555)", in: B. Federinov, G. Docquier (ed.), Marie de Hongrie. Politique et culture sous la Renaissance aux Pays-Bas, Morlanwelz, Musée royal de Mariemont, 2008, pp. 90-105.

P. Martens, "La destruction de Thérouanne et d’Hesdin par Charles Quint en 1553", in: G. Blieck, Ph. Contamine, Chr. Corvisier, N. Faucherre, J. Mesqui (ed.), La forteresse à l’épreuve du temps. Destruction, dissolution, dénaturation, XIe-XXe siècle, Paris, CTHS, 2007, pp. 63-117.

P. Martens, "Pierre-Ernest de Mansfeld: l’homme de guerre", "Pierre-Ernest de Mansfeld et les ingénieurs militaires: la défense du territoire", in: J.-L. Mousset, K. De Jonge (ed.), Un prince de la Renaissance. Pierre-Ernest de Mansfeld (1517-1604), Vol. II, Essais et catalogue, Luxembourg, Musée national d’histoire et d’art, 2007, pp. 77-96, 97-112.

Download the complete CV


Presentation of the GEMCAProgramme of activities PublicationsOn-line ResourcesResearch projects Thesis News
Design by www.matthieumiller.be All rights reserved - Webmaster :  alessandro.metlica@uclouvain.be