The British Michael Pye is known for At the edge of the world, about the North Sea as a nursery for our modern world. He elaborated that bold statement. In Antwerp – The Glory Years there is no question of a new historical insight. It was well known that Antwerp grew into the center of Europe that had awakened from the Middle Ages in the 16th century. Wars were carried on with money from Antwerp bank, goods from all over the world found their way to the rest of Europe via Antwerp. The painters Dürer and Bruegel worked there, the printer Plantin printed his books there, the city was a center of culture. Even a city where Jews and Protestants were more or less tolerated, repression would not benefit trade.
Using dozens of portraits, Pye paints a kaleidoscopic picture of 16th-century Antwerp – merchants, craftsmen and artists, wealthy and poor people. This has been finalized in a colorful but also confused picture of the city, in which the reader is regularly lost due to the facts.
Michael Pye: Antwerp – The Glory Years. From the English by Pon Ruiter and Annemie de Vries. The Busy Bee; €29.99.