First Roundtable on British Royal Tours

The newest issue of the Royal Studies Journal is a special issue on British royal tours of the Dominions, compiled and guest edited by Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery (both University of Sydney, Australia). Ten articles discuss several aspects of these royal tours, from the response by Canadian women over the relations with indigenous people to the practical side of royals spending a pretty long time on ships, and many more.

We got together with Robert Aldrich, Cindy McCreery, and Chris Holdridge (University of the Free State, South Africa, and Monash University, Australia) to discuss their ideas for the special issue, the connections of royal studies and post-colonial-studies, and their research.

Robert Aldrich

 

Cindy McCreery

 

Chris Holdridge

Cathleen, Kristen, and Elena: Robert, Cindy, and Chris, thank you for joining us for this roundtable on the special issue on British royal tours. Robert and Cindy, you already published books together on royal tours, and I quite well remember our discussions on the topic in Gießen and Madrid in 2017. Chris, you provided an afterword to this special issue – could you all please tell our readers a bit more about the idea behind this special issue, and how it relates to this field in general? Also, what do you see as most influential in the academic field of studying royal tours?

Crowns and coloniesRoyals on tour

Robert:  After reading Amitav Ghosh’s wonderful novel The Glass Palace, I became interested in the monarchs – emperors, kings and queens, maharajas, sultans – who were dethroned and exiled by the British and French.  (Exile was a kind of enforced tour!)  That led to a book on Banished Potentates. But I had also started to think more generally about monarchies and colonies, and Cindy and I began to work together on that theme, and edited a volume on Crowns and Colonies for Manchester University Press.  Cindy’s fascinating research on the global tour of Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred suggested that travels by monarchs and members of royal families were part of a more general phenomenon, and that these grand tours provided initiations to international affairs for the royals, examples of ‘soft diplomacy‘ and affirmations of colonial rule.  Our edited Royals on Tour (also published by Manchester) explored some of those travels by British, French, Italian and Portuguese royals, and also colonial-era tours by royals from places such as Japan, Thailand, Indochina and the Dutch East Indies.  Given the breadth of British empire, and the significance of royal tours to Australia, where we live, Dominion tours was an obvious topic for another collection, and the contributors to our RSJ issue offered many new insights into royal travels in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, and on such issues as relations between indigenous people and the Crown, gendered experiences of royal tours, and the role of displays of military might on those occasions.

One of the key academic benefits of studying royal tours is how they provide an example of ‘connected history’ – travels in a real sense link colonial metropoles with colonies, and colonies with each other, as well as linking elites to ‘commoners‘, and Europeans with indigenous people and with settler and diasporic populations.  They involved not just an individual ‘tourist’ but many others, from vice-regal officials to servants, performers to spectators.  Royals were (and are) celebrities – it is extraordinary that perhaps a quarter of the population of Australia turned out to see the queen when she first toured the country in the 1950s.  The visit to Australia later this year of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may not draw such crowds, but will no doubt create considerable interest.  The visit of the young couple will show how the British royal family and monarchy continually reinvent themselves – but also perhaps spark renewed debate on the future role of the British sovereign as head of state in Australia.

Cindy: As well as the influences Robert mentions above, we have been inspired – but also challenged – by much of the work which historians and art historians of early modern Europe have done on royal tours. As modernists who live and work in the global south, we are quite passionate about showcasing modern as well as non-European case studies of monarchical performance such as royal tours. So we want to emphasize that monarchies and royal tours are as much a part of the 19th and 20th (and indeed 21st) centuries as, say, the 16th!

Chris: Monarchy is an important part of the history of imperialism, and an aspect near inescapable for historians of empire. The articles in the special issue show that rather than colonial replicas of the politics of royal display in the British metropole, royal tours and their reception in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa very much relied on the local politics of these colonies or dominions. It is this attention to local politics that is for me the most stimulating direction in the study of royal tours. Debates about race, such as in Britain over the recent 2018 wedding of Prince Henry to the biracial American and former actress Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, had their much earlier precursors in the colonies. Studying royal tours is an entry point into understanding the long histories of multiculturalism and the complex changes over time to social hierarchies. It tells us a lot about the visibility or occlusion of violent settler colonial pasts and diverse colonial or dominion populations, and the impact of this on the social fabric. If anything then, studying royal tours and monarchy in general should not be a niche field. Histories of empire, and national or global histories, are enriched when we ask bigger comparative questions about the importance and connected histories of monarchy. Royal tours are but one way to go about this.

Cathleen, Kristen, and Elena: Modern royal tours show indeed the worldwide, and world-encompassing, reach and influence of monarchies, especially the British monarchy. The issue highlights the complex issues of empire, commonwealth, royal tours, independence, ceremony, racism, nationalism, colonialism vs anti-colonialism vs post-colonialism, and so on – how do you all deal with studying a subject so intertwined with these issues, which of course are also still political dynamite today?

Robert: Fortunately, royal tours produced much documentation – newspaper reports, commemorative volumes, memoirs and travelogues, images and artefacts.  (And, more recently, of course, there are television reports and now internet streaming.)  These provide a rich archive, and the tours shed light on many issues in the history of monarchy and in the history of the countries royals visited. 

One strategy to try to make sense of it all is to focus on a particular tour and to examine the dynamics of the itinerary and ceremonies, the reception of the royals, and reportage around the visits.  Such a fine-grained ‘snapshot‘ allows a researcher or reader to zoom in to a particular time and place.  Alternatively, study of a succession of visits shows how change occurred – changes in the way the monarchy presented itself, changes in the circumstances that inspired tours, changes in reactions from the diverse groups in countries that were visited.  As the articles in our issue of the RSJ show, yet another approach is to look at particular themes, for instance, the voyage itself, or the experiences of women or indigenous people, or the place of the armed forces and returned soldiers during these tours.

Cindy: Yes, and I think that as historians we need to be mindful and at times quite explicit in our work about linking past controversies with present campaigns. Jock Phillips’ article on the New Zealand Maori and Royal tours, Mark McKenna’s on Australian indigenous people’s relationship with the British monarchy and Carolyn Harris’s on Canadian women and royal tours all engage, albeit in different ways and with different methodological approaches, with issues of racial and gender equality that are very much relevant today.

Chris: There are no easy answers to historical questions about race, the nation, antic-colonialism and imperial loyalism. What makes royal tours so fascinating are the contradictions that one faces when looking at the archivalia that Robert mentioned, whether commemorative pamphlets or newspaper accounts. Looking beneath the surface, jubilant welcomes and warm receptions were often political theatre belying deeper tensions or resentments. In South Africa, as Hilary Sapire argues in her article on the 1925 royal tour of Edward, Prince of Wales, Afrikaners showed a mixture of unease or deference two decades after the end of the South African (Boer) War. Complexities are often best examined through case studies, of which royal tours are excellent examples. One way to tackle these complexities is to read against the grain of press accounts and official versions of events by elites to attempt a recovery of different voices and motivations. We hope that it is clear in the special issue how very different the meaning and possibilities of royal tours were for a white New Zealand immigrant from London compared to an Indigenous Australian or French-speaking Canadian. It is at the micro-level of these different voices that we can then pan out to challenge the often simplified and uniform broader narratives around monarch and empire.

Cathleen, Kristen, and Elena: What I really liked about your special issue in the Royal Studies Journal is the focus on modern monarchy, and the focus on non-European events. The British Empire and Commonwealth was, after all, world-spanning, and had much more influence outside of Europe than in this tiny continent. What is your impression, also as scholars from South Africa and Australia: in what ways do royal studies profit from non-European views, and how influential is European scholarship for non-European research?

Robert:  European monarchy is by its very nature a cosmopolitan institution – through dynastic traditions, intermarriage, conquests of territory in Europe and the wider world.  In the age of exploration and empire, European monarchies and non-Western monarchies came face to face, sometimes in violent confrontation, and both of these groups of monarchies were changed in the process.  European monarchies were imposed on many colonised areas, and European notions of governance survived even after decolonisation in some countries.  Malaysia, for instance, has a Westminster style of parliamentary government, but a particular sort of elective monarchy (with the head of state selected for a five-year term from among the hereditary sultans).  The monarchies of countries such as Thailand underwent a wide-ranging modernisation in part because of their contact with the West; this can be seen in transformations in political institutions and court ceremonial, and in personal links developed, for instance, by the late nineteenth-century King Chulalongkorn and his monarchical peers in Europe.  To understand modern monarchy, therefore, research on European and non-European forms of dynastic rule are complementary, and those strands of historiography need to be brought even closer together.  There are useful comparisons to be made, for instance, between the sacred nature of European and non-European rulers – the divine right of old regime monarchs in Europe, Buddhist kings as devarajas, Confucian rulers as ‘sons of heaven‘.  The ‘new imperial history‘ tends to view the colonising and the colonised countries within the same field, and studies of modern monarch may also profitably reflect on the transnational and global histories of Western and non-Western monarchies in the colonial and post-colonial age.  We need greater dialogue between specialists of European monarchies and those in Asia, Africa and Oceania in order to discuss the long-lasting effects of the cross-cultural encounters of different royal families and their traditions.

Cindy: In response to your point above, I actually think that the British Empire and Commonwealth was pretty influential in Europe as well as beyond it. If you think about, say, French, Belgian and German nineteenth-century colonisation schemes, many of their greatest advocates were inspired by the British model. And of course Belgian and German monarchs (notably Leopold II and Wilhelm II) were notorious for their determination to build empires to rival those of Britain… So I think that looking at these overseas empires is absolutely essential for improving our understanding of the European monarchies themselves. European scholarship on monarchy is very important – e.g. David Cannadine’s work on representations of the British monarchy at home is really helpful for understanding their representations in colonial Australia, which built on existing British representational models. I also think that Europeanists benefit from considering scholarship on non-European examples, whether that be responses to European royals in Asia, responses to Asian royals in Europe – or in their home countries.

Chris: I agree with what Robert and Cindy have mentioned. Global history has been one of the great benefits and spurs to new scholarship, bringing into conversation historians of early-modern Europe, for example, with historians who work on Australia, South Africa or India. These comparative conversations have always been present, but there is a renewed energy of late for global comparisons. One of the challenges, however, is to avoid an assumption that Europe brought its models of monarchy, governance, trade and ideas in a one-way flow to the rest of the world, or that unique extra-European cultures can be categorised into European models. This is what the postcolonial historian Dipesh Chakrabarty referred to as the need to ‘provincialize Europe’. Modernity is not a European invention, progress is not the preserve and responsibility of Europe, and monarchy and democracy are not necessarily European exports. Empire was a process of exchange—frequently violent and unequal—when Europe encountered societies that had their own advanced social orders, hierarchies and dynasties.

Comparison can help us better understand these complexities of monarchy. Two books by historians based in the global south come to mind as excellent examples of this approach. The first, Milinda Banerjee’s The Mortal God: Imagining the Sovereign in Colonial India, was published this year by Cambridge University Press. It is an intellectual history of the princely states in India and debates and exchanges with British imperial power over what constituted the sovereign and their authority, debates that often involved elites and peasant contesting what Banerjee terms the ‘political theology’ of monarchy. The second book, now two decades old, Terrific Majesty: The Powers of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Invention by Carolyn Hamilton, demonstrates that the Zulu King Shaka is an invention of the colonial archive, historical accounts and popular memory that relied on European conceptions as its foundation. This is an invention of Shaka’s greatness and infallibility that served as a useful foil in British imperial propaganda as much as it still serves as a central component of Zulu identity and nationalism in South Africa today.

File:British Empire 1921.pngThe British Empire in 1921

Cathleen, Kristen, and Elena: Now, this is a call to arms the books for us historians! Include research and researchers from the Global South! I can also only emphasize this: I worked with Milinda Banerjee on nationalism and monarchy, and his insights as a scholar based in the Global South, but also trained in Europe were enlightening. As you might know, most of our readers are researchers of premodern periods in which there were also royal tours. Can you tell us a bit how they would compare to modern royal tours? Was it ‘just’ a change of technology and infrastructure regarding transport and media coverage, or can you pin-point some more substantial changes as well? What about the change of royal families from active rulers of their own dominions to representatives for their states, to what degree does this change play a role? In this aspect, how important is the role of ‘performance of monarchy’? 

Robert:  The pre-modern tours and ‘progresses‘ of monarchs provided templates for later travels, but certainly the new technologies and the expansion of empires were key differences between those travels and those in the age of empire.  There are, however, other differences.  By the late 1800s and early 1900s, most European monarchs were losing, or had lost, the absolute powers enjoyed by their forebears; overseas travels provided a new way to sustain and indeed re-establish their place in the nation, and to present themselves as sovereigns over ‘dominions beyond the seas‘.  Empire provided an opportunity (indeed a need) for rulers such as the British monarchs to affirm their special ties with settler populations – and there is an element of ‘race patriotism‘ in this sense – but also their paternalistic imperium over colonised people of very different ethnic, religious and social backgrounds. Colonies presented the possibility for ‘performing monarchy‘ on a global stage, and to use such performances to promote empire at home.  The incorporation of the Kohinoor diamond (the subject of a fascinating recent book by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand) is one manifestation – the diamond was effectively taken as war booty after the British East India Company annexed the Punjab and deposed its ruler, who then lived in exile in Britain as a sometime wayward protégé of Queen Victoria.  The diamond taken from him was incorporated into the British crown jewels.  When it was set into the crown of Queen Alexandra – who as the consort of King Edward VII was also Empress of India – she was, in a literal sense, wearing the empire on her head.  The ways in which the colonies were intertwined with the history of modern monarchy in Europe is an often overlooked aspect to their evolution, and we hope that our research and that of our collaborators has shed light on the place of overseas empires in the construction of modern monarchy.

Cindy: Yes, and I think another important element of modern royal tours is the way in which they frequently reflected the huge economic, political and cultural significance of the colonies – and colonists – in the overall empire. When the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York travelled around the British empire in 1901, they paid enormous attention to making sure that each colony they visited felt special, as if it was THE most important stop on the itinerary, and they spent hours shaking hands with local veterans of the ongoing war in South Africa. While they were greeted with great courtesy and honour wherever they went, there was also a sense that the colonists DESERVED this royal visit, and that such tours were now a royal duty. So the focus on satisfying the broader public, rather than say just elite audiences, probably marks a substantive difference from early modern royal tours.

Chris: Of course, as you mention, the most dramatic change over the past two centuries has involved travel and communication, in the move from sailing ships to steam power and from the printing press to the telegraph, radio, television and then the Internet. Travel times diminished greatly, and so did the dangers for royals travelling to distant colonies. This made the option far more attractive by the late-nineteenth century. To echo what Cindy has said, there was an expectation in the rising mass societies of this era that the authority of politicians should be seen, whether these were presidents or monarchs. Increased literacy and a more active public resulted in a demand to see royalty as part of the political fabric connected to and answerable to ordinary folk. And media thus transformed the reception of royalty on display as a democratised and even celebrity event that drew in a larger audience through print or on screen. Royal pageantry thus became more democratised in its wider audience beyond courtly display, to the streets of the capital and the outer reaches of empire.

Cathleen, Kristen, and Elena: Thank you for these further insights into the complex topic of royal tours, and how studying them profits us in understanding monarchy, be it modern or premodern. One last question to you all on royal tours: do you have any favorite anecdotes of royal tours you’d like to share? Or, can you recommend any additional media (images, newspapers, video, speeches, radio broadcasts, etc.) for anyone interested in modern royal tours?

Robert:  Some of my own favourite anecdotes come from the travels to Europe of Asian monarchs – the king of Cambodia, Sisowath, in visiting Paris in 1906, for instance, brought with him a group of Khmer dancers.

File:Danseuse cambodgienne (Auguste Rodin) (10743744834).jpg

The young women so intrigued Rodin that spent hours sketching the dancers, and even followed the troupe from Paris to Marseille to continue drawing them.  King Sisowath meanwhile enjoyed shopping in Paris, and gave a royal medal to the manager of one department store he patronised!  Such anecdotes show the personal side of royal tours, but also how they provided occasions for two countries to ‘discover‘ each other.

There are a number of commemorative volumes on royal tours, and museums sometimes put on display artefacts from these travels.  The British Film Institute’s website, among others, has interesting documentary footage, and it is possible to find reports on other tours on YouTube.  Royals were always photogenic, so newspapers and other illustrated magazines of the time are also full of images and accounts – the modern phenomenon of royal paparazzi owed much to royal travels.

Cindy: One fun anecdote from Prince Alfred’s 1867-8 tour of Australia comes during his visit to the Hunter River region of New South Wales. A crowd of local people wait patiently for hours on the riverbank to watch him pass by on his steam launch. By the time the boat comes into view it is midday and the hot Australian sun, reflecting off the shiny paintwork of the royal launch, creates such glare that the spectators really can’t see very much. ‘Mrs Windeyer’, a middle-aged woman who was married to a prominent local landowner and later campaigned for women’s suffrage, describes the scene in a letter to her daughter-in-law, explaining that ‘I did not see Prince Alfred but he may have seen me!’ I think that beautifully sums up both the loyalty of many people in the nineteenth-century British empire but also their ongoing sense of individual pride and self-worth. The Prince wasn’t the only person worth looking at on that hot day!

 Chris: A memorable moment is when Queen Elizabeth II visited South Africa in 1995, following the election of Nelson Mandela as president the year prior. The Queen had last visited South Africa in 1947 with her father King George VI, her mother, and Princess Margaret. During the majority of the time between, Mandela had languished in prison for 27 years under the oppressive apartheid regime. Unlike when her father greeted onlookers in 1947 as head of state when South Africa was still part of the monarchy, in 1995 a black man with the office of head of state of a republic, and equally as regal in appearance as his British counterpart, stood next to the Queen. The contrast of a half-century was telling. The New York Times published a short but poignant ‘Cape Town Journal’ of the Queen’s visit. While many—especially black—South Africans saw the Queen’s royal tour as evidence of the end of South African isolation within the world and the possibility of a better life, others were more circumspect. One 64-year old coloured librarian, Vincent Kolbe, recalled waving a flag when a teenager in 1947 at the royal entourage. As he said to the New York Times reporter, “When you get old, you get nostalgic. This is like revisiting a moment in your life… But there isn’t the same kind of devotion now as there was then. She’s somebody else’s Queen now.” In my own memories of 1995 as a then nine-year old, I recall far more strongly South Africa’s victory against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final, and the moment Nelson Mandela lifted the trophy with the team captain, than I do the visit of Queen Elizabeth II!

Image result for queen elizabeth II nelson mandela 1995 south africa

1995 in South Africa

Image result for mandela pienaar 1995

Cathleen, Kristen, and Elena: Now, sports, power and national identiy is also quite the interesting topic! Finally, what can we expect next from you?

Robert:  Cindy and I are now putting together an edited volume on monarchies and decolonisation in Asia, looking at both European colonial monarchies and Asian ones.  This is part of a larger project, with several collaborators in Australia and overseas, on the general topic of monarchies, decolonisation and royal legacies.  Meanwhile, I’m finishing a book with a geography colleague in Sydney, John Connell, for Palgrave Macmillan, that looks at several dozen places around the world that did not become independent countries – we published a volume called The Last Colonies twenty years ago, and we are looking at those places once more.  Monarchy does figure in the story.  After all, Queen Elizabeth still reigns over islands and enclaves from Bermuda to St Helena, from Gibraltar to Pitcairn.  The king of the Netherlands reigns over six islands in the Caribbean, and the Danish queen rules over the Faeroes and Greenland.  And after that, I’m writing a general book on European colonialism since 1800 with a Swiss scholar, Andreas Stucki, for Bloomsbury Publishers.

Cindy: I am currently writing a book on Prince Alfred’s world tour in the 1860s and 70s, which I describe as the first global royal tour. I am also planning a second article on the 1901 royal tour – there is so much more to say about it! – which will examine representations of race and gender in the tour. I am also planning a conference presentation on the royal tours of King Kalakaua of Hawai’i and Sultan Abu Bakar of Johore – two other nineteenth-century keen royal tourists. Robert and I are teaming up with our colleague Mark McKenna (who contributed an article to this special issue) to plan a possible museum exhibition on monarchy in Australia. Watch this space!

Chris: Besides finishing a book on settler protest and the end of convict transportation in the British Empire, I am collaborating with Wm. Matthew Kennedy on the book Captive Subjects that looks at the thousands of prisoners of war sent to India, Ceylon, Bermuda and St Helena during the South African War. Issues of sovereignty and subjecthood abound, and I have become increasingly fascinated by the post-Napoleonic history of exile to St Helena. Besides 5,000 interned Boer prisoners at the turn of the twentieth century, the British exiled the Zulu king Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo to the island in the 1890s. Boer POWs—most ardent republicans and some racist—did not take kindly to news that the Zulu King received better treatment and hospitality than they did! Like Robert, I have thus been drawn to the history of royals in exile, which is an interesting counterpoint to royals on tour.

Cathleen, Kristen, and Elena: Again, thank you all for indulging us with this interview; and good luck with your respective projects! We’re looking forward to reading them, or seeing a bit of them (in the case of the exhibition)!

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CCCU Prizes 2018

This is an amazing Kings&Queens summer – great conferences, books, discussions, and now some prizes for outstanding scholarship in the field of Royal Studies!
At the Kings&Queens conference, we celebrated with Joanna Laynesmith who won the CCCU Book Prize for her study on Cecily Duchess of York! Go on, buy it, read it, and tell us what you think of it – and to make it easier – there is a discount… 35% discount off “Cecily Duchess of York” at http://www.bloomsbury.com on individual sales with the code GLR KR6 (that makes it £55.25, plus postage if overseas).
Cecily Duchess of York
 
We would also like to honor the runner up book from Penny NAsh on the Empress Adelheid and Countess Matilda (https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137590886) for its amazing scholarship on these two medieval women!
And, if that’s not enough – also our early career and doctoral students in the field produce exceptional work: The 2018 RSJ-CCCU Prize for the best unpublished article by an ECR goes to Dr Alison Creber (KCL) for her article, “The Princely Woman and the Emperor: Imagery of Female Rule in Benzo of Alba’s Ad Heinricum IV”. – Keep a look out for this article in our December issue!
 
We honored also already published work: the 2018 RSJ-CCCU Prize for the best published article by a PGR goes to Jessica O’Leary, who is undertaking her doctoral research at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Her article, “Politics, Pedagogy, and Praise: Three Literary Texts Dedicated to Eleonora d’Aragona, Duchess of Ferrara”, was published in 2016 in the distinguished scholarly journal, I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, volume 19, number 2 (2016): https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/688439

Modern Monarchies Around the World

The current special issue of the Royal Studies Journal is about royal tours in the modern era. While many of us who study monarchies specialize in ancient, medieval, or early modern history, there are a number of monarchies alive and well in today’s world. The maps below highlight the world’s current monarchies.

current world monarchies

Current Monarchies simplified map

The first map shows the 16 countries of the British Commonwealth that recognize the monarch as head of state (the larger Commonwealth consists of over 50 countries) and the 29 other countries with monarchs. The second map is a simplified version of the first: it provides country names but many smaller principalities were left off the map.

The 16 Commonwealth Countries with a monarch are: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia.

Current Monarchies in the Americas

The 10 monarchies in North America are all part of the Commonwealth.

monarchies in Oceania

A close-up of the monarchies in Oceania. All but the Kingdom of Tonga (green) are part of the Commonwealth.

 

current monarchies africa

Current monarchies in Africa are Lesotho, Morocco, and Swaziland.

current monarchies asia

The current monarchies in Asia are Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.

current monarchies europe

The current monarchies in Europe are Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

The only continents without any monarchies are Antarctica and South America. Asia and Europe are tied for the most monarchies, with 13 each.

*All maps were made using Mapchart.net, which is an extremely fun resource!

Interview with Stella Fletcher: Cardinals and the War of Ferrara

Stella Fletcher is a graduate of the University of Warwick, where she specialised in Italian Renaissance history.  Her doctoral thesis examined Venetian cardinals in Rome between 1471 and 1492.  Since then she has taught for various universities, most recently the University of Manchester.  She has also served as editor of the Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies and as honorary secretary of the Ecclesiastical History Society.

Elena, Cathleen, Kristen:  Welcome Stella and thank you for agreeing to this interview with us!

Stella:  I’m flattered to have been asked.

Elena, Cathleen, Kristen: In the Royal Studies Network we are interested in cardinals because they are ecclesiastical princes, but your account of the War of Ferrara (1482–4) reveals that some of them were royal or noble by birth as well, so we are particularly interested in those individuals.  Were cardinals of noble birth expected to be equally knowledgeable about worldly and spiritual matters?

Stella:  My suspicion is that you are thinking principally of Cardinal Giovanni d’Aragona, who was the son of King Ferrante of Naples, making him a prince by birth and by profession. Giovanni was dynastically connected to Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza of Milan, so perhaps you are thinking of him as well. Other names come to mind, but those will do for now. There is one rather useful distinction that can be observed concerning cardinals of elite birth in the later fifteenth century. Just as the clerical body is formed of a hierarchy of bishops, priests and deacons, so there were – and are – cardinal bishops, cardinal priests and cardinal deacons. If you look at each cardinal in turn you can see a distinction between the venerable cardinal bishops, who were effectively a short list of candidates for the next papal election, the more numerous cardinal priests, who had a lifetime of ecclesiastical service and often much learning behind them, and the cardinal deacons, who were often younger, less learned and – yes – of noble birth. Sure enough, Giovanni d’Aragona and Ascanio Maria Sforza were both made cardinal deacons, as was the young and apparently irresponsible Giovanni Colonna. It seems to me to be a tacit acknowledgement that they were not quite the thing. Fortunately for them, they could be cardinals without even being in holy orders, which is a bit like the president of France being a canon of the Lateran basilica in Rome in spite of being a layman.  All sorts of rules can be tweaked for persons of such distinction. There are certain responsibilities that fall to the most senior of the cardinal deacons. They include making the ‘Habemus papam’ declaration when a new pope has been elected, but do not happen to involve cure of souls. In the century of Bernardino of Siena, Girolamo Savonarola and any number of other notable preaching friars, there was no shortage of men to teach the faith, hear confessions and so forth. For practical purposes, it didn’t make any significant difference if a small number of prelates did not possess the faculties to do that sort of thing.

Titian_Sixtus IV

Pope Sixtus IV, Titian ca. 1545

Elena, Cathleen, Kristen: How much was the education of future cardinals as political assets part of a noble family’s long-term planning?

Stella:  That depends on which generation you have in mind, though it is something we can see coming into focus in the decades around the War of Ferrara.  If you look at earlier generations, there was no shortage of cardinals from ‘noble’ families, though we could be here for some time if we try to identify precisely what counted as noble status and whether it meant precisely the same thing in different regions of Christendom.  I remember sitting round a table in the Jesuit headquarters in Rome with a diverse group of people from around the globe. Each one declared him or herself to have noble blood, leaving me to comment that I was the only person present who came from a country where noble birth actually entitled certain individuals to have a seat in parliament – the rules have changed slightly since then – and I was pleased to say I had no noble blood in my veins whatsoever.  If nobles can apparently outnumber non-nobles in a random group of people, how much has the term been stretched over the centuries?  In the fifteenth century a handful of cardinals came from the higher nobility but, like many of the bishops throughout Christendom, a much larger proportion was recruited from the minor nobility.  The novelty came when close relatives of ruling princes – who perhaps had no overlord other than the distant and ineffectual emperor – were made cardinals.  Think of it as beginning with Pius II’s promotion of the seventeen-year-old Francesco Gonzaga in 1461.  That opened up all sorts of possibilities.  If the ruling family of Mantua could have its own cardinal, families of similar or higher status wanted them too.  It paralleled an inflation of secular titles in the same period, an inflation that can also be illustrated by the Gonzaga. Thus, the cardinalate became politicised in a way that it had not been previously.  You ask about ‘long-term planning’.  The clearest case of that in the fifteenth century comes not from a noble family at all, but from one that chose to marry into noble families and live the noble lifestyle.  In the Florentine republic Lorenzo de’ Medici positively groomed his son Giovanni for great things in the Church, and it worked: he was a cardinal at thirteen and pope at thirty-seven.  In the following centuries it became the norm for elite families to have a cardinal in each generation as a matter of course, regardless of whether their candidates were intellectually suitable for it or had illustrious careers behind them.  That’s the ancien reégime for you!

Elena, Cathleen, Kristen:   In view of the political divisions among the Italian states, how much self-regulation and compromise was involved in the creation of cardinals and papal elections?

Stella:  The creation of cardinals was and remains entirely in the gift of the pope, so it is up to him whether he chooses to create balances of one sort or another, geographical, theological or whatever might be relevant.  I would rather not generalise but, instead, suggest that you look at the precise circumstances behind each creation.  In the article I account for Sixtus IV’s creation of five new cardinals in 1483 and emphasise the balancing acts that went into that.  The political context surely influenced his decisions.  Similar patterns can be found among his earlier promotions, but there is also evidence of a certain lack of caution, not least in his choice of Giovanni d’Aragona. The existing cardinals advised against it precisely because Giovanni was the son of the king of Naples and would retain that allegiance.  More broadly, they sought to block increases in their number because each individual cardinal enjoyed more authority and significance if the college was smaller and found his personal authority diminished by each addition to their number.  There was a financial dimension to this because certain sums of money were divided between those cardinals who were resident in Rome: the fewer of them there were, the greater the income each one received. The sums didn’t increase to match a larger number of cardinals.  Think of it as a cake being divided into pieces.  There was no possibility of baking a larger one.  On the other hand, it was in the pope’s interest to promote a greater number of cardinals because that meant none of them were too powerful to be any sort of threat to his authority. Sixtus IV was a strong pontiff who created many cardinals.  His successor, Innocent VIII, was much weaker and created fewer in proportion to the length of his pontificate.  It is well known that cardinals voting in conclaves have often reacted against the previous pontiff and gone for a deliberate contrast for the next pope. Sixtus was so strong a character that there was much to react against though, as you saw in the article, in 1484 Giovanni Battista Cibo was not necessarily chosen because he was meek and mild in comparison, though it must have helped his chances. The nature of conclaves means that compromise is almost inevitable. It is part of how the world works.

Elena, Cathleen, Kristen: Did Sixtus IV’s experience of the Ferrarese war influence the way in which subsequent popes dealt with the secular powers?

Stella: You might be forgiven for thinking so, especially because the next four pontiffs – Innocent VIII, Alexander VI, Pius III, and Julius II – were among those cardinals featured in the article, men who had direct experience of the conflict.  However, that would be to assume that the War of Ferrara was somehow exceptional. It wasn’t, even during Sixtus’s pontificate. Not long before the Ferrarese war there had been the Pazzi War, in which papal and Neapolitan forces encountered those of Florence and Venice.  Tensions were usually high, and the pope employed soldiers as a matter of course. The War of Ferrara was part of a continuum of conflicts among the states of later fifteenth-century Italy, so it made no decisive difference to how any of the major political players operated, including the popes.  Between 1454 and 1494 the Italian states were pretty much always jostling with one another in such a way that we can look back at it now and see that what they did had the effect of maintaining a balance of power. Relations between the popes and the secular princes did change from 1494 onwards and that was because non-Italian powers – France, the Spanish kingdoms, the emperor, the Swiss – began using Italy as a convenient battlefield on which to fight each other, which challenged the popes in unprecedented ways.  Back in 1482 the fear was that Venice had become too dominant and, indeed, it is a measure of Venetian strength that most of the Italian states were in league against the republic and yet failed to defeat it in two years of conflict.  As we have seen in the article, that was a measure of the League’s weakness as much as it was a sign of Venetian strength.  Venice was not defeated and continued to be conscious of its vulnerability to attack from the south, which it countered by seeking influence down the coast south of Ferrara … in the Papal States.  One of the cardinals who appears in the article, Giuliano della Rovere, became Pope Julius II in 1503 and effectively took up where his uncle, Sixtus, had left off, being determined to drive the Venetians out of papal territory.  That is just one example of continuity, of the Ferrarese war marking no obvious difference in relations between the states.  As long as the popes were territorial princes as well as spiritual leaders of Christendom they had no option but to defend their state.  How could they have done otherwise?

Elena, Cathleen, Kristen: The bellicose Pope Julius was roundly condemned in the satire Julius exclusus, so how did his uncle’s involvement in the War of Ferrara affect the reputation of the papacy a generation earlier?

Stella: Just because we have the Julius exclusus does not mean that it should be allowed to speak for anyone except its author – presumably Erasmus – and his learned circle of friends.  Just because you know what happened in the sixteenth century does not mean that it should be allowed to colour appreciation of the fifteenth.  The sixteenth gets us into a world of polemical tracts and therefore into something we can regard as public opinion. The fifteenth-century printers were busy educating and currying favour with patrons, rather than stirring up trouble and biting the hands that fed them.  What the pope did at a political level was therefore communicated by ambassadors in their dispatches to their princes, so who knew what depended on the quality and quantity of information they received from Rome and was limited to the princes and their ministers. The pope belonged to their world: they took up arms to defend their territory, so there was no reason for secular princes to be surprised if he did likewise. He was, of course, expected to inspire men to take up arms against the infidel, and the Venetians were not slow to point out the irony when that enthusiasm was directed against fellow Christians, but they were playing politics when they did so. The political elites knew what was happening and why it was happening, so the pope’s reputation was not really an issue.

Pope Julius II_Raphael

Pope Julius II, Raphael ca. 1511

Elena, Cathleen, Kristen: Thank you very much for giving us these fascinating insights into your topic. What is your next project?

Stella: I have a list of potential projects, ranging from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, most of which deal with some sort of cross between religion and diplomacy. It would be satisfying to do all of them in due course, but the precise order will have to be dictated by whatever circumstances happen to arise.

Kings & Queens 7 – Interview with Gabby Storey

Gabby Storey is part of  of the organizing committee for the next Kings & Queens 7 Conference at Winchester, UK in July 2018, and will tell us a bit more about what we can expect from the conference. She is also a PhD researcher at the University of Winchester, working on four queens and how the relationships between mothers and daughters-in-law in the emerging Angevin empire, 1135-1216 affect diplomatic and political power. Her research interests are queenship, gender, and sexuality in Western Europe, with particular emphasis on the Anglo-Norman world. Gabby also works as a layout assistant for the Royal Studies Journal, so there is also that connection…

Please make sure to include #KQ7 on social media, and follow the conference on the same hashtag if you cannot be there!

Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: Hi Gabby! Thanks for giving this interview for the organizing committee! First, the conference is back home again, after being “on tour” the last three years. Could you tell us a bit more how being on tour changed the conference series, and what it means to you all, organizing the conference back in Winchester?

Gabby: Hi! The conference being on tour has really opened it up to the academic community around the world, and has brought such a range of papers and topics to each conference. It’s gone from strength to strength! Bringing it back to Winchester is a lovely homecoming for us as organisers, and gives new delegates the chance to see the country it started in, and what it means to us having it in a historically royal city. It was also important for us to have some extra special events for our delegates, the highlight of which will be the first day at Hampton Court Palace. We’re really looking forward to it!

Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: The organisation of such a conference is always a difficult matter with a lot of coordination, planning, and stressing out over problems going on. Could you tell us a bit more about how you are doing it this year, e.g. who else is in the organisation committee, or how you divided all the work? And especially, this year includes some quite interesting add-ons to the normal sitting in lecture halls and discussing royal studies – could you please elaborate a bit on this?

Gabby: Sure! It has been great this year as there are quite a few of us on the committee to share the load. When we had the initial meeting  to propose the theme of ‘Royal Sexualities’ we were very excited to see what response we would have, and we had over 120 abstracts submitted. The conference committee had a meeting at Hampton Court Palace to organise the first draft programme and plan our day at Hampton Court. Ellie [Woodacre] has been overseeing and directing us all, taking the lead with programming, and working with Gordon [McKelvie] on funding which is why we were able to give so many of our postgraduate students and ECRs bursaries to attend the conference. Katia [Wright] has been overseeing the logistical side of the conference with transport and administration, Sarah [Stockdale] is our promotional guru and Karl [Alvestad] and myself have been organising the play, registration and all the email enquiries! Matthew [Storey] and Edward [Legon] from Historic Royal Palaces have been taking care of all the organisation for Hampton Court, and will be joining us at Winchester for the rest of the conference, which has been a wonderful mixture of heritage and history. We also have a specialist conferences team at Winchester who have organised the catering and accommodation for all our delegates, and they have been an amazing support. Special thanks must go to the University of Winchester and the Society for Renaissance Studies who gave us funding for the bursaries. We’ve combined this all with our other responsibilities but having such a supportive committee has made the process very enjoyable!

One of the new events for this year is the ‘Pitch a Project’ workshop, where we’re inviting all delegates who are interested in finding collaborators for grant funding and/or publications to come together and discuss ideas for future projects. The conference series Kings and Queens has led to several edited volumes and the creation of the Royal Studies Journal so we really want to encourage people to work together on their research. We’re also putting on a staged reading of a fantastic play on the life of Elizabeth by Carole Levin, which will see our very own conference delegates taking part. The big event for us is the day at Hampton Court: we have behind-the-scenes tours, a special heritage roundtable and a keynote from Professor Anthony Musson who is head of research at Historic Royal Palaces.

Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: Hampton Court will be an exciting treat this year! We are really looking forward to this.
Can you tell us a bit more about the state of research in Royal Studies in the last few years, and especially in England? What is your impression about the Royal Studies Network and the conference series as multiplicator for this field of research? Also, how does being a modern monarchy reflect on this field?

Gabby: Research in Royal Studies is still growing in abundance which is fantastic to see. What is really fascinating is the growth in global monarchical studies which our very own Ellie Woodacre has edited a volume on (A Companion to Global Queenship, ARC Humanities) coming out later this year, as well as the collaborative volumes which span a wide geographical breadth. Within England we have a very strong royal studies group of scholars, from the Anglo-Saxons through to the present day, and I think the fact we still have a modern monarchy allows us to retain that connection to the past. We can always think about how things have changed – the recent royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the birth of Prince Louis are national events which bring all us royal studies enthusiasts together!

The Royal Studies Network is great for bringing scholars together from around the world, be it on a collaborative volume, the RSJ or the conference. It is a wonderfully supportive group of scholars, and the continued publication successes, as well as the panels at Kalamazoo, Leeds and ANZAMEMS show the global outreach of what the Royal Studies Network does. It pulls together a range of researchers, working on any aspect of royal studies to discuss and collaborate and it goes further and further every year. It’s a really exciting group to be a part of!

Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: This global outreach is simply shown by the conferences you named, which are on three different continents! Now we only need to find conference to connect in Asia and Africa (and maybe South America)… So, in the conference next month: what can we expect? What is planned, and what should we absolutely not miss when visiting Winchester – both for people who have been already to Winchester, and for first-timers?

Gabby: You can expect a massively diverse range of papers – this year’s theme was Royal Sexualities and our delegates have really shown us what a wide range of research there is out there on this topic! So look forward to lots of discussions around LGBTQ+ history. We’ve also had some great panels put together by other scholars which gives us full day strands: so there’s something for every royal studies scholar. The day at Hampton Court Palace is really not to be missed – it’s open to delegates and the public, and gives us a sneak peek at lots of hidden histories. The tours that we’ve organised are great! The sessions start in full swing at Winchester on 10 July through to the 12th, and we have a wine reception, the pitch-a-project workshop, the play and a ‘Renaissance Lovers’ roundtable to look forward to. The conference is a mix of scholars from all levels around the world, and the public facing events are an exciting way to stimulate lots of discussion around royal studies.

Winchester has one of the largest cathedrals in Europe which I highly recommend visiting – the nave is beautiful and it has a crypt which can be explored. It is also surrounded by beautiful gardens. We also have the Great Hall, which is all that remains of Winchester Castle, and it contains a replica of King Arthur’s roundtable. Essential viewing for any medieval scholars as the castle dates back to William I!

Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: Just as an addition: when visiting the Cathedral, look for the grave of Jane Austen which is in the nave. I quite remember starting my first paper in Winchester with a famous quote from her, and discovering the day before that she was buried there!
Gabby, thanks for doing this interview! Is there anything you’d like to add?

Gabby: We really hope that everyone who attends enjoys the conference, and do follow us on Twitter for those that can’t attend as we will be live-tweeting throughout under #KQ7. Hopefully it will be the beginnings of several new publication and research projects, and we are planning a special edition of the Royal Studies Journal open to anyone who presents at the conference. A lot of hard work has gone into the conference so it will be a delight to see how it progresses, and we look forward to hearing everyone’s fantastic research next month! Thank you for doing this interview for the Royal Studies blog!

New Website for the Royal Studies Journal!

The Royal Studies Journal has moved to a new and improved website! Please visit at https://www.rsj.winchester.ac.uk/.

To help you navigate the new site, Ellie Woodacre has kindly recorded a video. Please view it here.

We have a new website because Winchester University Press has teamed up with Ubiquity Press, a leading open-access publisher. Joining forces with an established open-access publisher keeps the journal at the forefront of scholarship and streamlines access to both current and back issues.

We hope you enjoy the new website!

Conference Report from Kalamazoo

This year the Royal Studies Network and Royal Studies Journal hosted two excellent sessions on Plural/Corporate Monarchy at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Congress at Kalamazoo is one of the largest gatherings of medievalists from around the world, and it features papers from a wide range of disciplines such as history, English, philosophy, religious studies, and world languages to name just a few. Medievalists from undergraduates to senior scholars enjoy the scholarship, social opportunities (including a Saturday night dance), and book discounts. Be on the lookout on the Royal Studies Network Facebook page for more information about future Kalamazoo sessions.

Below are quick summaries of our sessions, provided so that those who were unable to attend don’t miss out!

Session One:

Erin L. Jordan’s paper, “Melisende, Fulk and Corporate Monarchy in the Twelfth-Century Kingdom of Jerusalem” discussed corporate monarchy in the Latin East. Jordan argued that Melisende was a true co-ruler and when her husband Fulk tried to cut her out, she (with the support of native nobles) rebelled in 1134. The couple reconciled rather quickly because co-rule worked very well for a conquest kingdom such as that of Jerusalem. The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem follows more Mediterranean patterns of monarchy where the demands of war make a partnership between the king and queen particularly useful.

Manuela Santos Silva’s paper, “The king, his wife, their children and their households: Royal power in Iberia in late middle ages” is part of a larger project investigating collective monarchy in the Iberian peninsula. Using law codes such as Las Siete Partidas and Portuguese letters and chronicles, Silva traces the answers to such vital questions as: who should be king? What is the role of the royal family in an elective monarchy? What is the role of the royal family in an inherited monarchy? Should we refer to some monarchies as “shared monarchy”?

Janna Bianchini’s paper, “Duplicate Monarchy? Kings Confirming Royal Women’s Gifts in León-Castile” focused especially on Sancha Raimúndez (1095-1159) and her many royal diplomas. The vast majority of Sancha’s surviving grants are not confirmed by her royal brother, suggesting that royal women could grant land independently. Several of the diplomas issued jointly by Sancha Raimúndez and Alfonso VII show the royal siblings acting via verbs in the first person plural (we give, we concede), which indicates a joint dominion over certain lands or rights. In a close examination of some of Sancha’s grants, Bianchini then explored the concept of “keeping while giving” that seemed to be in action with some of Sancha’s grants.

During the question-and-answer period, participants and audience members discussed the idea of a Mediterranean or “frontier” concept of rulership that relies fairly heavily on corporate monarchy. Is this a thing? Worth pondering!

Session Two:

Kristen Geaman’s paper, “Is All Monarchy Plural? A Look at Medieval Kings and Queens” took the idea of corporate monarchy beyond the Mediterranean to England. Looking specifically at intercession and the idea that a king needed/had two genders, she suggested that English monarchy could also be seen as plural because kings and queens together often embodied and enacted the performance of the king’s two genders. Intercession, in which a merciful queen tempers a vengeful (but just) king particularly showcases the monarchs working together to fulfill both kingly genders.

Anna Jagosova’s paper, “The House of Luxembourg (1309 ‒ 1442): Ruling practices in composite monarchy from gender comparative perspective” explored the charters from the many domains ruled by the House of Luxembourg to highlight the role of consorts in ruling these territories. With such disparate holdings, the regnants needed assistance, which queens could often provide. Comparing the language in extant charters, Jagosova showed that queens and kings used nearly identical language. Queens were generally especially powerful in places where they held lands, either from their dowers or morning gifts.

Abdulaziz Alqabli’s paper, “Religious Authority in the Mamluk Era 1250-1517” explored how the Mamluk sultans of Egypt used the Abbasid caliphs (who they had installed in Cairo after their defeat by the Mongols in 1258) and the ulama (religious scholars) to help legitimize their rule and prevent rebellions by the populace. The Mamluks particularly needed this support because of their slave origins. In addition to the support of religious leaders, the Maluks promoted jihad against both crusaders and the Ottomans to shore up their authority. But without the support of the Abbasid caliphs, the Mamluks likely would not have been able to rule; the official stance that the caliphs had delegated authority to the sultans solved a number of problems.

During the question-and-answer period, participants and audience members discussed the Mamluks and the importance of land/wealth as a route to power. The Luxembourg queens, rather like the “frontier” queens of the first session could exercise more power the more wealth they possessed.

Overall, the sessions emphasized the necessity of thinking about monarchy in medieval terms, rather than (as Janna Bianchini noted) “absolutist terms.” Medieval monarchs were not absolute monarchs (we will leave it to other scholars to determine whether absolute monarchs were actually absolute monarchs), and it isn’t helpful to think of them as a bunch of “the state is me” kind of people.