Sources on the history of Middelburg 1217-1574

Compiled by W.S. Unger

In an effort to publish a concise reference work “that combines prominent papers on how a town is governed and administered with details of the hustle and bustle of daily life in one reference work,” the Advisory Commission of the Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën (RGP) finally selected Middelburg. That choice was especially influenced by the abundance of documentary sources available on this Zeeland city (for example, the accounts of the city have more or less been preserved without any interruption since 1365), combined with the fact that these sources had hardly ever been published let alone the subject of a major study.

In retrospect, Middelburg was an auspicious choice for another reason which became apparent during World War II when the city’s impressive archive went up in flames. As a result, the three volumes of Bronnen tot de geschiedenis van Middelburg [Sources on the history of Middelburg] are now indispensable for research into Middelburg, Walcheren and Zeeland from the 13th up to and including the 16th century.

W.S. Unger edited this vast body of material, which was published within a decade. Volume I (1923) contains sources on governance, law and jurisprudence, church issues and poor relief, the city’s general history and its relationship with the surrounding areas; Volume II (1926) contains documents that place the development of the city’s finances in sharp relief; and finally Volume III (1931) documents sources on the city’s economic history.