Like everywhere in Western Europe, Flemish and Brabantine village elites came more to the foreground during the late Middle Ages. In the same period commercialisation was emerging in certain areas, but both phenomena have seldom been linked to one another in the past. Comparing two regions in the Southern Low Countries that experienced a significantly divergent economic development - the Campine region in Brabant and the coastal ‘Polder’ area in Flanders -, the aim of this project is to explain regional divergences in the organisation and dynamics of late medieval village elites by linking them to the equally regionally divergent patterns of rural commercialisation. In order to do so we have to question the basic assumption that an early and intensive commercialisation of agriculture was always paralleled by an equally early concentration of political and economic power in the hands of ‘new’ village elites, and that, vice versa, in more traditional or economically backward regions, feudal elites and community-based institutions and organisations were able to maintain their grip on rural society. The project uses an innovating methodology combining a dynamic, network-oriented, approach with a more structural analysis of rural elites on the micro-level of the village community. Resulting in two integrated PhD-dissertations, this comparative research project will make clear whether the distinction between commercial and traditional regions is sufficient to grasp the complexity of social relations, power building and elite group formation in late medieval village communities.