Journal of the Summer: 5 Years of the Royal Studies Journal

This summer, we’re celebrating already 5 years of the Royal Studies Journal! A few more posts on this are planned, so keep your eyes on this blog, on Twitter, or Facebook. First up is an interview with the person who started all this: Elena (Ellie) Woodacre is the heart and soul of the Royal Studies Network as well as of the Royal Studies Journal which is connected to the network and its other various activities. She is also editor-in-chief of the journal, and – together with the team of the journal – brings it to life. The first issue of the journal launched in July 2014 – 5 years ago! We caught up with Ellie to learn more about the first five years, and what is planned for the next five!


Covers of all ten issues of the last five years

RSJ Blog: Hi Ellie, we’ve looked deep into our archives, and one of the very first posts on this blog was your status report in March 2014 about the upcoming launch of the Royal Studies Journal! Then, in July 2014, the first issue of the journal went online – and now it’s been 5 years, 10 issues among them 3 special issues, two different technical systems, uncountable book reviews, and hopefully many, many articles and reviews in the pipeline still. Congrats for bringing such a project to life!

Could you maybe first tell us a bit more what inspired you and your colleagues from the Royal Studies Network to publish (yet another) academic journal?

Ellie: The inspiration for starting the RSJ was the same forces that led us to start the Royal Studies Network—we had a group of scholars and researchers who were all working in royal studies, but there was no defined academic forum for the field. We started with the conference series, Kings & Queens, which led to the formation of the network as a way to build connections and collaboration in the field. There have been fantastic publications which came out from all of the K&Q conferences, like The Image and Perception of Monarchy from K&Q1, Royal Women and Dynastic Loyalty from K&Q5 in Clemson and the recent Dynastic Change volume from K&Q4. Yet these volumes can only contain a brief selection of all the exciting papers from our conferences (normally about 100 each year!). The idea for the journal was that it could provide a constant publication outlet for research in the field, which wasn’t necessarily tied to the conferences, and could feature book reviews to help people keep up with new research in the field as well. We had an exploratory meeting at a Kings & Queens conference to gauge interest in a potential journal and the RSJ just took off from there—I can’t believe it’s been five years already!

RSJ Blog: Back in 2014, you told us in an interview that you were really impressed how quick the idea of the Royal Studies Network took a life of its own, and that you were happy that already around 220 scholars from all over the globe were connected in this network. On Facebook, we just had a short notice from Dustin, the network’s secretary, that we’re now up to 500! Can you tell us a bit more about this growth, which projects the network and the journal did in the last five years, and where you still see potential – or, what you hope to do someday?

Ellie: It is incredibly exciting that we’ve passed the 500 member mark—and when you look at the membership list you can see that we’ve got a truly global reach, with RSN members spanning from Australia and New Zealand, to North America and North Africa and all over Europe. And yet, as always, I feel like we could work harder to be even more global—I’ve been really evangelizing for royal studies to be as global and as inclusive as possible. That’s where the growth is—I really want to bring in more researchers who work on monarchy in Asia, Africa, Polynesia and the Americas. There is some amazing research on these areas already, but I’d like to see it more deeply connected to the RSN and reflected in the contents of the RSJ as well. Additionally, I want to bring in more members who work on monarchy both in the Ancient/Classical world and in the modern era so that we can really get the full timespan of royal studies represented in our membership and publications. This broad spectrum is vital to moving the field forward. Looking at monarchy across time and space, as works like The Routledge History of Monarchy and A Companion to Global Queenship both aim to do and making connections between scholars working in different geographical and temporal areas gives us a very different, and much richer, perspective on monarchy and royal studies.

 

RSJ Blog: Talking a bit more about the field of Royal Studies – in which ways did it change, or where do you see current academic interests?

Ellie: Apart from the “global turn” as I’ve just been speaking about, there are a lot of exciting developments in the field. I think one of the most exciting elements is the interdisciplinarity of the field. You can see that in the programmes for the K&Q conferences—researchers from different disciplines are bringing new approaches to royal studies and I think by bringing scholars from different areas together you can get very exciting inspiration and collaborations. Researchers from history, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, art history, literature studies, law, medical history, economics and so many more fields all look at various aspects of royal studies. Crossover, or cross-pollination, from one field to another gives us fresh perspectives. Take for example current research in the study of the queen’s household—you’ve got scholars like Nicola Clark thinking about gender and space in the household of Henry VIII’s queens and their palatial accommodation, Diana Pelaz Flores using elements of social network analysis to demonstrate the connections and wide ranging influence of queens through their household in Late Medieval Castile and economic analysis of queens and their household expenses by Charlotte Backerra and Cathérine Annette Ludwig-Ockenfels in the Holy Roman Empire during the early modern era. This really demonstrates the power of bringing in different disciplinary approaches to generate new insights into the field—changing the way we look at queenship and the queen’s household.

 

RSJ Blog: Continuing on from this, do you think that the work of the RSN and RSJ has also pushed royal studies/monarchical studies more on an academic level as opposed to the popular history writing which has dominated for a long time in this field (especially in Austria and Germany)?

Ellie: Obviously there has always been a fascination with monarchy and royal figures of the past and present—we can see that in the vast output of material from popular culture, media and history works aimed at a non-scholarly audience. While I think we should embrace this material—indeed there is some exciting research in royal studies on the remembrance and representation of monarchy in popular culture and the press–we also hope that our own publications in the academic field of royal studies connects deeply with the scholarly community as well as being potentially accessible and interesting to a wider audience. I do hope that our research will continue to gain wider recognition as an academic field of study and at the moment, one of the areas that our Listings team is working on is to link the RSJ to more scholarly databases of journals so that we can further enhance our reach and scholarly standing in academia.

 

RSJ Blog: Both the network as well as the journal are great places also for doctoral candidates and ECRs – was this something planned from the start, or did it just happen along the way? In which way are ideas about these scholars at the start of their careers implemented?

Ellie: This has always been a key aspect of the RSN and RSJ, to highlight the work of graduate students and PhD/Early Career researchers and encourage the next generation of scholars in the field. I actually started the first Kings & Queens conference as a PhD student and we’ve always aimed to make the conferences, network and journal a welcoming and vibrant community for students and ECRs. We’ve done this by featuring their papers at the conferences, bringing them onto the journal staff to help them gain experience in academic publishing and by running the article prize specifically for graduate students and Early Career researchers. This is a tradition that I am absolutely passionate about continuing—the RSN should never feel like an exclusive ‘clique’ or a restricted area that only senior scholars have access to. We’re all about being on the cutting edge of research, which is showcased in PhD theses and the developing work of ECRs. Plus, by bringing junior and senior scholars together at the Kings & Queens conferences and in publications like the RSJ, you can get fantastic collaborations! What I’d like to do next is perhaps start a voluntary mentoring scheme, like some societies run at major conferences—this would be a great way to move the informal connections and support networks formed through the RSN to the next level.

 

RSJ Blog: That sounds fantastic! We’ll keep our eyes open for any announcements regarding this. Finally, what are you working on right now? Except for all the work you do for the RSN and RSJ?

Ellie: I’ve got a fair few projects on the go at the moment! In addition to editing the RSJ, I’m an editor on two book series, Gender and Power in the Premodern World (ARC Humanities Press) and Queens of England (Routledge)—both of these series are really growing at the moment with lots of new titles contracted, some of which will be out fairly soon. These series are both deeply connected to royal studies and I hope will provide yet more publication outlets for our growing field. I have a work of my own contracted in the Queens of England series, a monograph on Joan of Navarre which I have been working on for many years—I’ve given a few papers on her at past Kings & Queens conferences. I’m also deep into writing a short form monograph on queens and queenship for ARC’s Past Imperfect series which I’m very excited about. This book looks at queens and queenship across time and place, exactly what I was talking about earlier in terms of the “global turn” of the field, looking at the constants and variable of queenship over the longue durée. Currently I’m wrapping up the chapter on family—I’ve been thinking a lot about monogamous and polygamous court systems and what impact this has on the role of a queen both as a consort and a queen mother, or royal matriarch. I’m also working with Aidan Norrie, Danna Messer, Carolyn Harris and Joanna Laynesmith on a four-volume series on English consorts for the amazing Queenship and Power series at Palgrave Macmillan and have a few other “irons in the fire” as well. Never a dull moment—clearly I can’t get enough of queenship and royal studies!

RSJ Blog: We neither! Good luck, and we’re really exited about the next five years, your upcoming projects and more publications in these book series! Thank you for joining us!

Advertisements

Interview with Erin Jordan

Erin Jordan is Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Honors College at Ohio University. She has written numerous articles on Cistercian women and elite women’s religious patronage. She is the author of Women, Power and Religious Patronage in the Middle Ages and is currently at work on The Woman of Antioch: Gender, Power and Political Culture in the Latin East.  Her article “Corporate Monarchy in the Twelfth-Century Kingdom of Jerusalem” was published in the Royal Studies Journal, Volume 6, Issue 1.

fulko_melisenda

Coronation of Melisende and Fulk from Paris, BN MS Fr. 779, accessed via Wikimedia Commons

RSJ Blog: Hello, Erin! Thank you for talking with us! Your article on Melisende was great. How did you come to study her?

Erin: Thanks. I’m glad you liked it. I actually became interested in Melisende when I taught a course on the Crusades a few years ago. Until then, I’d studied women and authority in Western Europe, but hadn’t realized how prominent ruling women were in the Latin East. At the time, it seemed contrary to prevailing scholarly wisdom about the ability of women to exercise authority in the Middle Ages, especially in a particularly volatile region. I was hoping to figure out what was “in the water” so to speak in the Crusader States to produce so many women who believed in their right to wield power.

RSJ Blog: Your article is about corporate (or plural) monarchy and how the idea of rule by more than one royal can help us understand rulership in the kingdom of Jerusalem. Do you think corporate monarchy applies to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem for the entirety of its history?

Erin: My research on Jerusalem does not extend beyond the life of Melisende, but based on what I’ve seen in the literature, I would say no. I definitely think the model applies in the early years, but there is a distinct shift after the death of Baldwin III. King Amalric does not seem to have included his wives in governing in a way that would align with the model of corporate monarchy in place prior, nor does Baldwin IV.  There does seem to be a brief revival during the rule of Sybilla and Guy, but that doesn’t seem to survive past the death of Sybilla in spite of the fact that women continued to inherit the throne. The later queens seemed to have played a minimal role in actual governance.

RSJ Blog: Your article also mentions that corporate monarchy is especially applicable to the Latin East and the medieval Mediterranean. Why do you think this is?

Erin:  I think a corporate approach to ruling fit the medieval Mediterranean and the Latin East for a number of reasons. Monarchy in these areas faced external pressures along their frontiers that resulted in nearly constant military conflict during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Someone needed to assume responsibility for the daily business of governing during the king’s absence in the field. The type of bureaucracy that assumed such responsibilities in the West had yet to develop in the region at this stage, providing an opportunity for family members to step in and assist in governing. I also believed that corporate monarchy appealed to the dynastic ambitions of King Baldwin II, who, in the absence of a male heir, wanted to be sure that his daughter succeeded him. Providing a capable consort would increase the likelihood that the nobility of the kingdom would consent to this arrangement.

RSJ Blog: Melisende’s family sounds fascinating. Could you tell us more about her sister, Alice, who had designs on Antioch but was thwarted?

Erin: I find all four of Baldwin’s daughters fascinating, though next to Melisende, we know the most about Alice. After the death of her husband Bohemond II of Antioch, she attempted to exert control over the principality on three separate occasions. It is striking that in doing so, she was willing to challenge her own father, King Baldwin I, as well as her brother-in-law, Fulk. Unfortunately, it is difficult to piece together the exact course of events due to the limitations of the sources. The most detailed narrative account is that provided by William of Tyre, who clearly had strong feelings about her actions, dismissing her ambitious as dangerous and her actions illegitimate. Yet the support she had among other powerful nobles in the region, including the Count of Tripoli and Hugh of Le Puiset, suggests that not everyone shared William’s views.

RSJ Blog: One of your major sources is the chronicle of William of Tyre. What are your impressions of this source? Is William reliable? What are his biases?

Erin: As I indicated in reference to Alice in the previous question, William of Tyre’s narrative can be a bit tricky. The detail and insight it provides into events is obviously a strength, and explains why so many scholars rely so heavily on it in their investigations into the Latin East. However, the account is rife with his opinions and his personal sentiment which require careful navigation. Literary scholars have noted his admiration and personal affinity for Amalric, which seems to influence his presentation of Amalric’s predecessors, particularly Melisende. I do think there is an interesting gender dynamic at play, though have not spent enough time with the complete text to make any concrete determinations.

RSJ Blog: What are you working on now? Are you doing more with Melisende or moving on to someone else?

Erin:  The original plan was to write a book about all four of Baldwin’s daughters-Melisende, Alice, Hodierna and Iveta-that examined gender and female authority in the Latin East in order to explain the prominence of women in this region. Unfortunately, the sources on the four sisters are so uneven that any study I produced would have been skewed in favor of Melisende, who has already been the subject of several studies. I did publish an article on the youngest sister, Iveta, who became the abbess of Bethany and the article on Melisende that appeared in the RSJ. I have since shifted my focus North and am working on political culture in the Principality of Antioch. This book examines the experiences of four prominent women associated with the principality-Constance I, Alice, Constance II, and Maria-in order to understand the attitudes and ideas prevalent in the region that determined who was able to exercise authority. It will also examine their respective experiences in order to explain why some of them succeeded in their bid to wield power while others failed.

RSJ Blog: Thank you so much! Best of luck with your work. We look forward to reading it!

 

Let’s talk about Royal Studies! (Video)

This little corner of the web is all about Royal Studies! The field, the network, the journal. Behind all this are amazing scholars, some of them coming together on the Kings & Queens conferences, some of them only connected via the Facebook group, following the activities on Twitter, Facebook, or the newsletter.

However, we do not only go to the Kings & Queens conferences but also to other gatherings like the IMC Leeds (for medievalists). Just recently, Kristen Geaman and Cathleen Sarti who are two of the people behind this blog and the marketing team have met for the first time in real life at IMC. Of course, we did a video.

Honestly, we’re not used to video interviews and you can see it – but if we are brave enough to post it, then so are you! Members of the RSN, get out, meet your friends from the network and talk about the network and Royal Studies! Please send any videos and questions to royalstudiesblog@gmail.com!
Under the video, you’ll find a list of possible questions to structure your videos! Although, we did also not really keep the structure – but take a look (sorry for the link, video is bigger than allowed upload size):

Kristen Geaman and Cathleen Sarti, IMC Leeds 2019

Here are some of the questions we discussed:

What brought you to royal studies, and how did you find out about the Royal Studies Network?

What do you enjoy most about the network?

Which new insights have you gained from your work connected to the network, or to royal studies?

What are you curious about?

What are you doing right now, and what are your next projects?

Kings & Queens 8 – Interview with Cinzia Recca

Cinzia Recca is a lecturer in Modern History at the University of Catania. Her book The Diary of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, 1781-1785. New Evidence of Queenship at Court has been published in the Queenship&Power series in 2017. She is a well known participant of the Kings & Queens conferences, and other activities of the Royal Studies Network, and also the organiser for this year’s conference in Catania, Sicily. We talked with her about what is coming, and how to prepare for Sicily in June!

 Please make sure to include #KQ8 on social media, and follow the conference on the same hashtag if you cannot be there!

RSJ Blog: Hi Cinzia! Thanks for giving this interview and for welcoming the Royal Studies Network to Sicily for the first time! Could you please first tell us a bit more about the upcoming conference, and who is behind all the organisation?

Cinzia: Hi Cathleen, it is a real pleasure to answer your questions. I still remember my article in the first issue of RSJ, my interview for this blog, and it is very amazing how the blog grew more and more in only five years.

I have to confess that I am very thrilled about the upcoming conference; it was during the Portuguese edition July 2015 that I shyly proposed Catania as a possible venue for a future conference and immediately with enthusiasm the proposal was accepted for the 2019 conference .

So, I had 4 years to think about the organisation of the conference; in fact the first step was thinking about a topic. I had several ones in my mind but at the end resilience was the one that fascinated and intrigued me more than others. Nowadays this word is often used as the capacity to react in a positive way to traumatic events of life and so I imagine that examining it in depth, through a royal studies perspective, could be very interesting. The call for papers was a success and a high number of proposals were very interesting.

Another aspect that has been crucial for the organisation was to create a scientific committee, Marcello Fantoni, Fabian Persson, Zita Rohr and of course Ellie Woodacre kindly accepted my invitation to collaborate, helping me to select papers and structure the programme. I am very thankful for their  help. Then I thought that creating a mini video about Catania and the University could be an attractive  idea to involve people to participate so that during the last day of the seventh edition of Kings &Queens Conference in Winchester Ellie and I officially launched the call for paper showing the video.

From an organisational point of view,  I was aware that alone I could not manage anything.  I needed an organisational machine because I firmly believe in teamwork so that with the precious help of many persons that work at the University of Catania, we created a Conference website to give all the possible information requested and to register, so they simplified my work.

And last but not least, Officine Culturali , which is an Association in partnership with the University of Catania, is managing all the bureaucratic issues and during this last period  a great group of volunteer students is helping me  define the last things.

RSJ Blog: This does sound indeed like a well-oiled organisational machine! Let’s talk a bit more about all the “extras” we come to expect – and enjoy – from the Kings&Queens series? What is planned for Sicily?

Cinzia: This year we have an intense programme with numerous panels from ancient history to the contemporary period, analysing the theme also from a multi-disciplinary point of view.  Scholars of History, Literature, Art, Drama, Philosophy, and even Psychology will present their contributions. The Conference envisages also three plenary sessions with three great historians, Charles Beem, Francesco Benigno and Munro Price will discuss the themes from three different perspectives even if they are correlated.

As far as social activities are concerned, the Conference Venue will be the Palazzo Ingrassia and the Monastery of Benedictines, respectively of The Department of Educational Science and of Humanities. The Monastery is one of the biggest European religious buildings together with the monastery of Mafra in Portugal. The Monastery of Benedictines being a department site is open for visits and guided tours can be organised. So, the Conference offers a guided tour of the Monastery of the Benedictines on the first day. Sometimes, working inside this building I forget the magnificence and magic atmosphere of the past that you can breathe walking inside the Monastery. We will also have a special opportunity to spend time inside the two cloisters, on the occasion of lunches and for the social dinner.

During the last day of the conference, we are proposing a guided tour of Catania so that before the attendees go back home they could have a general idea of the main attractions of the city.

RSJ Blog: We are definitely looking forward to hearing about royal history, but also to enjoy Catania! Can you tell us a bit more about the Italian state of research in Royal Studies in the last few years? And also a bit about the long and complicated history of Sicily under different monarchical rules – just off the top of my head, I can think of Rome, Byzantium, Arabs, Staufer, Normans, Spain, and Italy – did I forget someone?

Cinzia: The Italian interest in Royal studies in the last few years has increased more and more. Ten years ago when I started my research on Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples, the interest for royal studies was already present but specific aspects of the Court/Kingdom were studied such as political, diplomatic fields, the crucial role of nobility, the magnificence of royal sites.  So the interest is gradually augmenting; this also is proved by the fact that during the first editions of King and Queens Conference I was the only Italian to participate while in the last editions the number of Italians increased. Actually, most of the scholars and historians are now expert in Medieval, early  Modern history and  History of Art.

I wish that the Kings & Queens Conference 8 in Catania could pique even more scientific curiosity and interest of royal studies from Italian historians and scholars.

The other question about the History of Sicily cannot be answered shortly. A very good example of the History of Sicily has been recently re-published by Lord John Julius Norwich, Sicily. A short History from Ancient Greeks to Cosa Nostra, Coronet, 2015. Lord Norwich returns to a subject that inspired his first book fifty years ago and he writes a richly nuanced Sicilian political history in a very interesting and attractive way.

More, I firmly agree with Francesco Benigno, who in the introductory chapter of History of Sicily edited with Giuseppe Giarrizzo, states that Sicily is an Isle but not isolated, it has been and it is still a bridge between Europe and Africa, between Western and Eastern. Sicily during the epochs  has been continuously a land of conquest, it was fought over by Phoenicians and Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans, Goths and Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, Germans, Spaniards and French for over a thousand years. All the rulers tried to keep it in their domains, so continuous struggles to conquer and keep the isle played a crucial role in the rise and fall of the world’s most powerful dynasties. And Sicilians belonged to all of them and every time they had to adapt to the new rulers, laws and way of life.  Resistance and resilience were of course two attitudes that the Sicilian population developed along the epochs.

 RSJ Blog: There is still so much to learn for me about Sicilian history! Aside from the conference, could you please also tell us a bit more about Catania and Sicily – there are probably a lot of people adding a few days to do some sightseeing, or just some relaxing at the beach! What should we not miss, which drinks are en vogue at the moment, what do we have to absolutely experience?

Cinzia:  During my course of History of Sicily during the early modern age, I often quote an excerpt of Journey to Italy of J.W.Goethe written in 1817:

Italy without Sicily leaves no image in the spirit. It is in Sicily that is the key to everything “[…]” The purity of the contours, the softness of everything, the soft reciprocity of colours, the harmonious unity of the sky with the sea and the sea to the land .. . those who saw them once, own them for life. 

Usually Sicily  was the last stop of the travellers who went on the Grand Tour since the mid- eighteenth centuy. There are so many attractions to see and visit in Sicily: discovering the precious ancient ruins, and see stunning sights such as in  Siracusa, Agrigento, Taormina, Piazza Armerina, Selinunte Palermo. Noto is amazing for its baroque buildings. Of course, too much to see and  probably a week could be not enough to visit everything.

But, even if the conference has an intensive programme  I should reccomend to plan time to visit Catania. Catania is the second largest Sicilian city and it has a population of around 300.000. Visiting Catania is quite easy, as the old town centre is relativley small.  An ideal starting point would be the main square, Piazza Duomo- Duomo Square and the Cathedral dedicated to Saint’Agatha, the city patron saint. The Cathedral stands with its baroque structure that incorporates some Roman columns taken from the amphitheatre, and where  three Aragonese king are buried: Frederik II, Louis and Frederik III. In the same square it is possible to observe Amenano Fountain and Elephant Palace, and La pescheria (fish Market).

Stesicoro Square with a Roman Amphitheater is also worth visiting as well as the main street of the old town Via Etnea (Etnea Street), La pescheria (Fish Market,) the old fortress of Castello Ursino, built by Frederik II of Hohenstaufen in the 13th century, Via Crociferi Street, the opera house  Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini, dedicated and built to the memory of the famous composer.

For the lovers of the seaside, Catania offers several beaches, Playa with sand,  Scogliera with rocks and San Giovanni Licuti beach with lava sand and rocks.

And of course  I suggest enjoying the typical food and drinks: things such as tasting the Catanese specialities (arancino, cipollina, cartocciata, bolognese, granita …), taking a drink in the Theater quarter near Teatro Massimo Square. And if there is still time available, an excursion to the volcano Etna and the little villages close to the sea, such as Aci Trezza and Aci Castello are worth a visit, too.

RSJ Blog: Don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes! Sounds like you’ll be walking around quite a bit! Cinzia, thank you for doing this interview! Is there anything you’d like to add?

Cinzia: Thank you so much for giving me the possibility to present briefly the upcoming Conference and Catania, I wish all the participants to have a pleasant stay. See you soon!!

Interview with Brendan Cook and Jennifer Mara DeSilva

Brendan Cook is a Senior Instructor in Humanities and Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida who wrote his PhD on Thomas More’s Utopia and Lorenzo Valla’s On Pleasure. Working on Renaissance texts, especially neo-Latin literature, is one of his research foci. His translation of the correspondence of the Roman humanist Lorenzo Valla was published in 2014 by Harvard University Press. 

Jennifer Mara DeSilva is well known to the readers of this blog and of the Royal Studies Journal thanks to her work on ceremonial entries and on cardinals. She is an Associate Professor of History at Ball State University (Indiana, USA), and has written several articles about the papal Masters of Ceremonies and edited collections examining the reformist behaviour of early modern bishops and the coercive process of sacralizing of space in the premodern world.

RSJ Blog: Hi Brendan and Jennifer, it’s great to talk with you about your recent article in the Royal Studies Journal which constitutes also somewhat of a first for the journal: it’s a source edition. More specifically, you have translated the funeral oration for Cardinal Pietro Riario by Nikolaus of Modruš in 1474, and compared this also to the Latin transcription. Can you tell us a bit more about this source?

NIKOLA MODRU¦KI, Oratio in funere?, Rim, 1474. Source 

Brendan & Jennifer: A translation seemed especially valuable to us because this text is interesting from more than one perspective. Obviously, there is the insight it provides into the institutional culture of the fifteenth-century Catholic Church. We have a summary of the life and achievements of one of the most important figures in Rome, a cardinal and a nephew of the pope. And this story is presented by someone who is also an important part of that same institutional structure, and who is sets out very deliberately to celebrate his virtues and apologize for his perceived shortcomings. So we see how the elites in this particular organization want to present themselves. But even apart from this, the oration is fascinating as an example of how humanist rhetoric is becoming established within the Catholic hierarchy. Modruš is making remarkable use of the different elements of humanist Latin, be it diction, syntax, or rhetorical tropes. And in that sense, the text belongs to the history of Neo-Latin literature as much as to the history of the papacy. That is why we included a Latin transcription as well as the English translation. We hope that the English version can serve as a sort of commentary on the Latin for those who want to study it, giving a sense not just of Modruš’ meaning, but his style. It is a translation that tries to reproduce the effect of the original, even it sometimes employs different means.

RSJ Blog: The oration was given by the Croatian bishop Nikolaus of Modruš for the funeral of the cardinal Pietro Riario. First of all, who were these men, and why did a Croatian bishop give an oration for an Italian cardinal? What was their connection? And second, was this oration ever really given, probably at the funeral, or was it “just” written and published? What was the purpose of this speech or text?

Brendan & Jennifer: Great questions! Nikolaus of Modruš (c.1425/7-1480) was one of many educated European men, who moved from regional diplomacy to Roman curial administration over the course of his career. Through the early modern period well-traveled, educated, and intelligent royal or noble agents often found that their skills and energy suited working as a papal governor, in the court of the Rota, or in the College of Cardinals. Like many other successful humanists, lawyers, and ambassadors, he took clerical vows in order to be of further use to the pope, whose interests spanned Eurasia, and receive income streams under papal control. Although Nikolaus ended up as the bishop of Senj and then Modruš, he lived and worked in the Italian peninsula, as a familiar of both Pope Sixtus IV and his nephew Cardinal Pietro Riario, remaining close to the centre of power.

Pietro Riario’s wall tomb in the church of SS. Dodici Apostoli in Rome
Source: Wikimedia Commons

As with many publications, this oration had several purposes: memorialization of a generous patron, encouragement of future patrons, and identity-building. Undoubtedly, these three purposes were interconnected and functioned on behalf of, and were directed towards, far more people than just Pietro Riario and Nikolaus of Modruš. While the author was a witness to spectacular diplomacy and a mourner of great men, he was also a campaigner on behalf of educated men who needed income and depended on large curial households. We know that Niccolò Perotti, the bishop of Siponto and another member of Riario’s household, also wrote a eulogy that he performed during the obsequies. As there is no similar evidence for this text, we suspect that Nikolaus’ oration was meant to be a public statement, rather than a printed account of an act.

RSJ Blog: This oration was one of the earliest prints, officially still counting as incunabulum since it was printed before 1501. Can you tell us a bit more about the genre of the source, e.g. how it relates to the later funeral sermons; and about the circumstances of its publication? Italy was one of the earliest printing centres – of course after Mainz in Germany where Cathleen’s university is – but was it still somewhat unusual that the papacy took to print so quickly? In some ways, the new printing technology was a rival to traditional text production in the church.

Brendan & Jennifer: Rome has always been interested in activities that could increase authority and reputation, be it print, lavish spending, public ceremonies, or art. As you know, from the late fifteenth century the printing press played an important role in facilitating knowledge and cultural dissemination in Rome. With both a large resident population and a large transient population, print offered a way to inform and affect people whose attention was dispersed across many areas, factions, and national or institutional identities. Print could condemn schismatic cardinals, mourn a papal nephew, and encourage a new saint’s cult. While this did not entirely replace manual copyists or more expensive illuminators, it could spread a variety of information faster and farther than before.

Unfortunately, little is known about the circumstances surrounding the publication of Pietro Riario’s funeral sermon. As our introduction shows, Nikolaus of Modruš’ work was part of a larger interest in memorializing Roman elites in the late fifteenth century. However, since there are so few studies or catalogues of Roman printers’ output it is difficult to be certain about the impact of this type of text, or even its popularity among print shop customers. Nevertheless, at this time there were enough elite households with fledgling libraries and literate individuals with an interest in either Riario, Sixtus, or Nikolaus, that we might expect this sort of cultural memorialization.

RSJ Blog: Just out of curiosity – do you have any idea who read these eulogies?

Brendan & Jennifer: The oration was published seven times in twenty-five years: in Rome (five times, 1474-1500), in Padua (once, 1482), and in Rostock (once, 1476). While Rome was a diplomatic and curial hub, both Padua and Rostock were university towns and centres of regional administration. A quick internet search turns up two dozen copies preserved in libraries across Europe, the Americas, and Australia. Stefan Plannck’s reprinting in the 1480s is especially well represented. This suggests that the oration’s subject and its author had a much larger attraction than we imagine. Moreover, the fact that comparatively many copies of the text have survived, leads us to believe that the type of text (both oration and biography) and the quarto format (cheap and portable) appealed to contemporaries.

RSJ Blog: Pietro Riario was a nephew of Pope Sixtus IV (r. 1471-1484). Can you introduce us to this system of papal relatives as counsellors during the Renaissance? Why did popes choose to surround themselves with family instead of with people from within the church?

Brendan & Jennifer: Worldwide right now the topic of family support in leadership, and nepotism more broadly, is experiencing a revival of interest, but for scholars of the early modern Catholic Church it has always been a talking point. Although taking clerical vows was considered to cut one off from blood relatives, the reality was that reciprocal familial support was the bedrock of early modern society, both secular and ecclesiastical. The election of a new pope, roughly once a decade, could herald a change of leadership, strategy, and personnel. This administrative disruption coupled with an increase in wide responsibility demanded a cohort of unquestionably loyal counsellors and agents who could implement and oversee the pope’s agenda. While kinsmen attract the greatest attention, new popes depended heavily on members of their former household to fill offices, and raised up relatives to form households of their own that could recruit reliable men, who in turn would form similar bonds of loyalty that could work on the pope’s behalf. In the end, as this oration shows us, the family rose and fell together, which is why the household that supported the pope or cardinal is described as a familia (“family”) in Latin.

RSJ Blog: Editing a source, especially when translation is also part of this edition, means getting really close to it – doing a close reading, if you will. Was there anything you were surprised by, or is this oration a typical case of its genre?

Brendan & Jennifer: In some ways, it is surprising just how typical this oration is. It is surprising how completely a bishop, and a Croatian at that, has mastered so many elements of humanist rhetoric. And this is not just a matter of the presence of many familiar tropes, but even of the texture of the language itself. On a word-by-word and on a sentence-by-sentence level, this is a great example of the kind of classicizing prose that had become the standard in Rome at this time. And in one sense, we could expect that Modruš would make an effort to produce an oration like this. When you belong to an institution like the Curia, you take your cues from those above you, and Sixtus IV embraced the humanist agenda like no pope before him. But it is still a surprise to see how widely accepted certain ways of thinking and speaking have become. Modruš seems to take it for granted that this oration is partly an exercise in impressing his audience through his mastery of what would have been called the elegantiae, the graces of good Latin style. In other words, he treats elegant writing as an end in itself. He takes great care in balancing his periods in a variety of ways, and he leans on devices, such as chiasmus, that feel very natural in Latin, even if they are often hard to reproduce in a language such as English. And he calls attention to what he’s doing. All throughout the oration, he communicates his awareness of the conventions of the form with these metatextual references to the choices he has made in shaping his structure. So it is clear, on internal evidence alone, that his readers are also immersed in these conventions. This oration is the product of a culture where the conventions of humanist oratory are accepted to the point of being taken for granted.

RSJ Blog: Thank you again for you time and participation! What is next for you?

Brendan: As a full-time instructor, I publish very little. I have translated a very interesting epistle, sort of a long, autoapologetic oration by the Roman orator Lorenzo Valla (1407-57), and I would like to publish that. It would make sense to include the kind of lengthy introduction/commentary that we’ve included here.

Jennifer: My current work focuses on another papal family, the Borgia, which provided Popes Calixtus III and Alexander VI to the throne of St. Peter (1455-1458 and 1492-1503). Issues of support network and public positioning were integral to the family’s rise and continue to play a role in how we understand the Borgia today. This work expands the research that I presented at the Royal Studies Network’s Kings & Queens 7 conference in Winchester (UK) last summer.

RSJ Blog: Both projects sound very interesting and promising to uncover more about Renaissance culture. Hopefully, we get to read some of these results soon! Let us know when it’s published, and we’ll announce it in our Facebook group!

Interview with Ray Ball

Rachael (Ray) Ball became an Associate Professor of History at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2012 after having taught at Kenyon College and Minnesota State University. Her research interests largely focus on the intersections of political culture and popular culture in early modern Spain and its empire. She is the author of Treating the Public: Charitable Theater and Civic Health in the Early Modern Atlantic World. When not in the classroom or the archives, she enjoys running, hiking, cooking, and traveling. Dr. Ball also recently had a chapbook of history-themed poems published by Louisiana Literature Press. For the Royal Studies Journal, Rachael has written a fascinating article titled Court Cities Celebrate Prince Baltasar Carlos: Loyalty, Status, and Identity in the Early Modern Spanish World.

RSJ Blog: Good day Rachael and thank you for making time to do this interview with us!

Rachael: Thank you so much for inviting me to participate!

RSJ Blog: You have done a fascinating study on the procedures of royal festivities respecting their impact on the various regions of the realm and the different parts of society. Is there any particular reason for picking the celebrations honoring the birth of prince Baltasar Carlos as an example?

Rachael: In the past I had written about the Spanish monarchy from the perspective of statecraft and comporting oneself as a ruler and about the regulation of performances and theater. My second bookTreating the Public examined the rapid development of early modern Spanish theater and its integration into urban daily life that stemmed in part from its relationships to hospitals, orphanages, and municipal governments. I had come to that project initially through a comparative examination of antitheatrical sentiment and long-term closures of playhouses in Spain and England during the 1640s. One of the previous interpretations of the closure of the Spanish theaters that my research complicated was that Spain closed its playhouses in 1646 to mourn the death of Prince Baltasar Carlos.

At that point, I realized that aside from articles by art historians focusing on Velazquez’s paintings of the prince, not a whole lot had been written about Baltasar Carlos. So I started keeping a file for a future project. Then in the summer of 2014 when I was wrapping up some final research for Treating the Publicin Spain, the abdication of Juan Carlos I and the coronation of Felipe VI took place, and there were processions and crowds and parties. Even though I don’t consider myself to be particularly pro-monarchy, I became much more interested in studying its ceremonial elements in the early modern period. This article is the direct result of that.

RSJ Blog: You have shown that the celebrations honoring the birth of Hapsburg crown princes were embedded in a very extensive dynastic propaganda. Could you tell us if certain rituals changed after the Spanish Hapsburgs were substituted by the House of Bourbon? Did the imperial Hapsburg family follow similar traditions in the rest of the Holy Roman Empire after the loss of the Spanish possessions?

Rachael: These are great questions! It would probably take a full article to do them justice, but I’ll take a stab at answering them briefly. In short, during the seventeenth century the Bourbons celebrated similar events in pretty similar ways. For example, when the future Louis XIV arrived “miraculously” after so many years without an heir to the French throne, subjects throughout France celebrated with bonfires and banquets. The protocols for triumphal entries in the Spanish world were quite similar to the entries that took place at other European courts. With the change of dynasty, some of the protocols that governed events did change, as did political and constitutional structures. For instance, under the Bourbons the independence of the queen’s household eventually ended. On top of that, the Bourbon era in Spain coincided with reformist tendencies that decried luxury and expenditure and bemoaned the loss of economic productivity that resulted from frequent feast days and celebrations.

I am not an expert in the Austrian Hapsburg practices after the War of Spanish Succession. However, my understanding is that the protocols that had emerged in Spain largely continued to be followed during ceremonies and state events. Irene Kubiska has argued that birth and baptism celebrations became more militaristic in symbology and tone over the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

RSJ Blog: One of the passages that fascinated me most was when you talked about how the different ethnic groups in Lima used the celebrations to demonstrate their distinction from each other especially the mulattos who wanted to stand out from the black population. Why was that so important to them and what was the relationship between those two groups and the Spanish ruling class? Did the latter differentiate between them at all?

Rachael: There were a multitude of factors at play here. One was the very real competition that drove many guilds and confraternities, as well as city governments, into chronic debt for these types of festivals as well as annual ones for religious celebrations like Corpus Christi. That being said, it seems to me, that there is an emerging element of colorism here, too.

Race is and was culturally and socially constructed, and there are plenty of examples from the archives of people emphasizing one aspect of their heritage versus another depending on circumstance and location. Joanne Rappaport’s book The Disappearing Mestizois a recent work that unpacks some of the complexities of this issue. Antonio Feros has recently written about the development of ideologies of race and identity and early modern Spain, and his analysis shows just how much debate there was among theorists and administrators.

Yet, scholars, like Geraldine Heng, have also uncovered evidence of the ways premodern people depicted racialized bodies. I would argue Carvajal’s account of the Lima festivals demonstrates that some differentiation could and did occur. He compared black people to crocodiles and caimans and called them ugly. It is only begrudgingly that he accorded them any humanity and only after some of Lima’s black inhabitants went to great lengths to display their loyalty to the Spanish crown. With the mixed-race confraternity I write about in the article, he begrudgingly noted that they exceed his expectations. At the same time, he claimed their successes stemmed from their European lineage.

a table depicting the caste system according to ethnical classification in Spanish ruled America (anonymous 18th century) Museo Nacional del Virreinato, Tepotzotlán (Mexico)

RSJ Blog: You also point out the dark side of such celebrations for instance that criminals often used the disarray to their advantage. At the same time, you mention chronicles that purposefully avoided drawing too much attention to that particular matter. Were there any records discussing possible solutions: for instance, special security matters? Were the public executions during the celebrations not also a very ostentatious warning assuring that people, while enjoying the festivities, did not forget who held authority over them?

Rachael: Occasionally, you can catch glimpses of the protocols and regulations that had been established for demarcating space during events like these through contracts and payments that often show up in municipal archives rather than in official accounts meant for commemoration. At times, though, the less poetic authors of accounts reflect indirectly on some of these realities as well by mentioning palisades or the presence of guards. I definitely wouldn’t dispute that executions and the performance of piety during autos de fewere reminders of the power of ecclesiastical and civil institutions. This was a way to align expressions of local justice with a celebration of monarchy. Some scholars have even talked about how religion and secular authority merged with public spectacle creating “a theater state.” At the same time, these types of categories do have their limits. Absolutists never had as much power as they wanted, and the very criminality that was punished so publicly speaks to the limits of power.

RSJ Blog: Thank you very much for these interesting answers. What are your upcoming projects?

Rachael: I’m currently working on an essay that examines the relationship between performance and poor relief through both official and semi-official channels. In that way, I’m continuing work on festivals and performance in the early modern Spanish world. I’m also in the midst of writing a dual biography of the Duke and Duchess of Osuna.

RSJ Blog: Then we wish you good luck with your new project and are looking forward to reading more from you soon!

March 2019 Book of the Month

This month’s Book of the Month is an often-cited classic for Kingship studies which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year: Paul Monod’s The Power of Kings. Monarchy and Religion in Europe, 1589-1715 saw the light of bookshops in 1999, published by Yale University Press. It still remains influential reading for researchers of royal studies, and it definitely draws the eye with its cover image of Philippe de Champaigne’s painting of Le Vœu de Louis XIII’ (1638).

Paul Kléber Monod (Hepburn Professor of History at Middlebury College (Vermont) was inspired to write this book, according to his acknowledgements, by intense discussions with Linda Colley and David Cannadine in the late 1980s. He refers to the immense struggle of going outside one’s usual geographical range (Monod is an expert on British history, but included an astounishing range of European courts and national historiography in his work). One of the reviews by Teofilo F. Ruiz in the American Historical Review in December 2000 applauded Monod for aiming high and succeeding, and was sure that this book will be cited and discussed for many years to come. Ruiz was right about that – when I first began reading for my PhD in 2009 (10 years later), this was one of the books still forming current debates about monarchy, culture, state formation, and – of course – religion and sanctity. So, what makes The Power of Kings a modern classic work for royal studies?

One aspect is certainly the consequent (and quite early) use of visual and ceremonial sources – in addition to textual sources like publications, parliamentary debates, or private documents, Monod really looks closely at images, esp. paintings and artwork commissioned by monarchs, and at the performance of ceremonies. This approach works well both for royal as well as for church history. He identifies the long seventeenth century as a time of transformation from a sacred to a secularized legitimation of monarchy, both with over-emphasis (by monarchs and courts) of royal sacralization and broader scepticism of this by their audience.

Another aspect is probably the masterful spinning of a narrative encompassing most of European courts, incl. Russia and Poland-Lithuania, and, even more impressive, several research fields. Aside from royal studies and kingship studies, Monod included research on state formation and nationalisation, political thought, church history, and theology into his book.

Although details presented in the book, and even the overall argument and contextualisation, can be – and have been – criticised (see this review and the author’s response), the book in its entirety still inspires and stimulates, not least of all because it was one of the first books on political authority, once again taking religious feelings serious.

What are your experiences with The Power of Kings? Did it inspire your research, or do you think, it is just not current anymore? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or on Facebook.