What we do

Research projects

Fundamental research is our core business. Next to a range of projects and personal pre- and postdoc fellowships funded by the university or the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), the Institute is home to 4 ERC Starting Grants, 1 ERC Consolidator Grant, 3 Concerted Research Actions funded by the university, 3 Flemish HERCULES projects for developing digital research infrastructure, and 1 Belgian-Dutch Interuniversity Research Network on pre-modern urban history.


ERC Starting Grant Projects:

EVALISA The evolution of case, alignment and argument structure in Indo-European (dir.: Jóhanna Barðdal)

MEPHILA Memory of empire. The post-imperial historiography of late antiquity (dir.: Peter Vannuffelen)

NOVELSAINTS Studies in ancient fiction and hagiography (dir.: Koen De Temmerman)

STATE Lordship and the rise of the state in Western Europe, 1300-1600 (dir.: Frederik Buylaert)

ERC Consolidator Grant Projects:

MMS-II  The Mamlukisation of the Mamluk Sultanate - II. Historiography, political order and state formation in 15th-century Egypt and Syria (dir.: Jo Van Steenbergen)

UGent - BOF Concerted Research Actions (GOA)

Archaeometrical Study of the Ghent Altarpiece  (dir.: Max Martens & Peter Vandenabeele)

Economic growth and inequality. Explaining divergent regional growth paths in pre-industrial Europe (Late Middle Ages – 19th century). (dir.: Erik Thoen)

Poetry from the Margins. Literary, linguistic, philological and cultural-historical analysis of a new corpus of Byzantine book epigrams (800-1453) (Dir.: Kristoffel Demoen)

FWO Hercules Projects

MPP: Mamluk Prosopography Project (dir.: Jo Van Steenbergen)

DSDD: A Dictionary of the Southern Dutch Dialects (dir.: Jacques Van Keymeulen)

CHLG: A parsed corpus of historical Low German (dir.: Anne Breitbarth)

BELSPO Interuniversity Research Network (IAP)

IAP Phase VII. City and Society in the Low Countries (1200-1800). The condition urbaine: between resilience and vulnerability (dir.: Marc Boone)


The Pirenne Institute is also a partner in 1 FWO Scientifc Research Community on Digital Humanities in Flanders (DHu.f). We were a partner in the Horizon2020 Coordination and Support Action ACCOMPLISSH  (2016-2019) on improving co creation with societal stakeholders and increasing SSH research impact.

Dissemination and training

The Institute hosts monthly Medieval Seminar Lunch Lectures at which invited speakers share their latest research. Next is Christopher Dyer on ‘Medieval Peasant Farming and the Landscape’, 27th October 2017. We also organise an annual Autumn School on historical languages or the auxiliary sciences. This year’s theme is ‘Editing Medieval Texts: Techniques, Opportunities and Challenges’ (17-20 October 2017). Finally, we support members with the organisation of conferences and workshops

Networks and collaborations

The Institute collaborates with several (inter)national or regional organisations in Medieval Studies, such as the Dutch Research School for Medieval Studies, the Interfaces group of the Anglo-Danish Centre for Medieval Literature and the Flemish Medievalist Association. Find all of our academic and societal partners in the pages on collaboration and impact.