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The county of Flanders belonged to one of the most urbanisedregions of Western Europe. In the later medieval period, it witnessed therise of a new power elite. As a consequence of the state formation processimpoverished noble lineages who survived by serving the prince fusedwith rich patrician families who also took up princely offices. They didthis by forming social networks based on marriage alliances. The nobilitydid not at all close itself off from newcomers. During the fifteenth century,the possibilities for interaction between nobles and non-nobles werefrequent Burghers and members of the rural elites were ennobled indifferent ways. The ducal officers constructed family and social networksthat went beyond their class and geographical origins. The elite groups ofthe city and the surrounding countryside had a tendency to overlap.Important layers of this composite political elite developed into whatcould be considered a new 'state nobility'. Along with ennoblement andupward social mobility, high officials adopted the family structure of thepatrilineal 'lineage' typical of the nobility. The new regional political elitewhich was partially created by the state formation process also constructeditself subjectively by adapting what we could call a 'state ideology'.