PhD position: Staging Nobility in Urban Space. The Nassau Dynasty and the Towns of the Low Countries –

Faculty:  Faculty of Humanities

Education level:  Master

Function type:  Wetenschappelijk Personeel

Closing date:  8 september 2023

Vacancy number:  11867


The Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH) invites applications for a PhD position tenable from 15 November 2023, for doctoral research in the field of medieval history. The research will be conducted in the research project recently awarded a NWO Open Competition grant and led by dr M.J.M. Damen. ASH represents and fosters the study of the human past from Antiquity to the present day. It brings together about 200 academics who participate in ca. 16 research groups.

ASH is one of the six research schools/institutes within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. Each research school/institute covers an important research area within the Faculty of Humanties (FoH) and has its own research programme. It is also the home base for PhD candidates, who interact with each other and with senior members in the research groups that make up the research school.

What are you going to do?

You will execute your doctoral research based on the research proposal approved by the NWO in the project Staging Nobility in Urban Space. The Nassau Dynasty and the Towns of the Low Countries (c. 1400-c. 1570).

In 1403, the Nassau dynasty acquired the town of Breda and other lordships in the Low Countries. The rise of this high-ranking noble family had important consequences for this highly urbanized area. This project aims to demonstrate how the Nassaus used urban space to legitimate their privileged position and to represent their noble lineage and lifestyle. Moreover, it uncovers how, in their turn, the towns took advantage of the dynasty’s princely, noble, and religious networks in the fifteenth and sixteenth century.

This PhD project identifies the impact the Nassau dynasty had on urban space in the Low Countries and investigates how the towns in their turn benefited from the families’ princely, noble and religious networks. To reach this research objective, it takes a threefold approach. The focus is first on the agency of six generations of noble men and women in the towns of the Low Countries: they are the starting point for uncovering the local, transregional and international networks, social and gender relationships, and cultural transfer between noble and urban environments. Secondly, the viewpoint of the towns and the actions of urban elites will merit equal attention. In particular, it concerns the towns that were part of their lordships (Breda and Diest), the two administrative centres of the Low Countries (Brussels and Mechelen) where the Nassaus had noble residences, and the economic metropole of Antwerp of which they were entitled viscounts. In addition to focussing on the Nassaus and urban elites as actors, this project also examines the agency of objects. As part of the overall research objective, the project will assess how objects were instrumental in building networks not only with local, regional and supra-regional ecclesiastical elites, but also with the urban populations.


Tasks and responsibilities

  • conducting research and submission of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • presenting intermediate research results at national and international workshops and conferences;
  • participating in project meetings, and closely collaborating with other members of the research team;
  • possible teaching deployment at BA level in the second and third year of the appointment, for a maximum of 0,2 FTE per year;
  • participating in the ASH and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes.


What do you have to offer?

You are a talented researcher, motivated to embark on a four-year project and able to work independently while guided by your supervisors. Being a team-player, you enjoy working in close collaboration with other researchers and institutions. You have good communication skills that will enable you to present your research clearly in papers, talks, and the final dissertation.



  • a completed Master’s degree in a field relevant to the proposed PhD project, e.g. Medieval or Early Modern History. Alternatively, you may also apply if you have not yet completed your Master’s degree but can provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before 1 November 2023;
  • excellent research skills demonstrated by an outstanding Master’s thesis and a demonstrable capacity to develop a track record of publishing in high-ranking journals and/or with leading presses;
  • a strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • enthusiasm for communicating academic research to non-academic audiences;
  • excellent paleographical skills in medieval Dutch and French.
  • good reading skills in Dutch, French and German

Please note that if you already hold a doctorate/PhD or are working towards obtaining a similar degree elsewhere, you will not be admitted to a doctoral programme at the UvA.


What can we offer you?

We offer a temporary employment contract for the period of 48 months. The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The employment contract is for 38 hours a week. The preferred starting date is 15 November 2023.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and relevant experience, ranges from € 2,541 up to a maximum of € 3,247. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.


What else do we offer

  • PhD candidates receive a tuition fee waiver;
  • PhD candidates have free access to courses offered by the faculty’s Graduate School of Humanities and the Dutch National Research Schools;
  • excellent possibilities for further professional development and education;
  • an enthusiastic, inspiring and professional academic team.


About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 42,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in the field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutions in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the link below. The deadline for applying for this vacancy is 08 September 2023.

Applications should include the following information (submitted in one .pdf by uploading in the required field ‘CV’):

  1. A letter of motivation in which you demonstrate that you are able to conduct individual research as well as to work in a bigger team.
  2. A full academic CV, listing at least:
    • full address and contact details
    • previous education
    • professional information (previous university (or relevant) employment)
    • conference presentations and publications, if applicable
    • grants/honours
    • language proficiency
    • paleographical skills
  3. A list of grades (transcript) obtained for your Master’s (or equivalent) programme; at this stage a certified document is not yet necessary
  4. The name and contact details of one or two academic referees
  5. A writing sample, such as a paper or a chapter of a master’s thesis, written in Dutch or English, of up to 4,000 words maximum.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

Applicants will be informed whether they are invited for an interview by Mid-September 2023. The interviews will be held in early October 2023.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.


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