The Reformation had a major impact on the practices of godparenthood in early modern Europe. Catholic parents could only appoint two godparents, a man and a woman, while Protestants were free to ask as much godparents as they wanted. This implies that godparenthood offered more opportunities for network formation in protestant regions. However, a social network analysis shows that the number of ties was not the only factor of importance. The social networks in the catholic city of Mechelen were denser than in the protestant Leiden as a result of the higher number of mutual connections. The low cohesion in Leiden was probably due to the high number of migrants and the absence of other forms of ritual kinship, such as religious confraternities. Another significant conclusion concerns the nature of these relations. The elite acted less as patron regarding lower social groups in Mechelen compared to Leiden. This is a remarkable conclusion because historians usually assume that social relation were more equal in the Dutch Republic than in the Spanish Netherlands.
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

van Dijck, M. (2015). Pour une étude comparée des usages sociaux du parrainage dans deux villes des anciens Pays-Bas. Leyde et Malines au XVIIe siècle. In Le parrainage en Europe et en Amérique. Pratiques de longue durée (XVIe-XXIe siécle) (pp. 179–200). Retrieved from