Book of the Month: The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire

This month’s Book of the Month is a classic: The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire by Leslie P. Peirce (Oxford University Press, 1993). In this excellent text, Peirce presents a nuanced understanding of the Ottoman harem and its dynastic politics for a western audience.

            To start, Peirce explains what the imperial harem was and what it decidedly was not. Orientalist assumptions have profoundly colored how westerners understood the harem, painting sexually lurid pictures. In fact, the harem was not especially sexual but was rather the place where the sultan’s family (his mother, consorts, children, and many, many slave servants) resided. Peirce emphasizes that part of this misunderstanding has come from modern western ideas of public vs private space (something which many historians of queenship are not doubt familiar). While the harem had restricted access, it was a space of power. Even the sultan was generally secluded; Peirce helps readers visualize this by describing how power in the Ottoman world was a function of outer to inner, rather than down to up as in many western places. The closer one moved inward, to the sultan, the greater that person’s power.

            In order to understand the vital role women played in Ottoman sovereignty, Peirce next explains the dynasty’s reproductive strategies and succession practices. Although the first couple of Ottoman rulers made dynastic marriages, that practice quickly came to a halt as the family increased their power. As the premier dynasty in the region, the Ottomans had no need for legitimation through alliances. The trade-off of outside family alliances was not seen as worth the high-status brides. Consequently, the dynasty turned to reproduction through slave concubines, initially following a one mother-one son policy, which was broken in the 1500s. Because the Ottoman dynasty was of such high status, concubines who birthed sons were retroactively ennobled. This enabled these mothers to serve as part of the ruling dynasty.

            Initially, when a prince reached his majority (late teens), he was sent to rule in a provincial city. His mother went with him, and was his main protector and one of his main advisors. This was a high-stakes duty because the dynasty practiced widespread fratricide until the end of the sixteenth century. The Ottoman dynasty as a whole was always regarded as more important than any individual, which sometimes led to fathers executing sons who threatened (or were thought to threaten) the father’s rule. A mother whose son did not became sultan was likely to lose her son to strangulation. In the generations after Süleyman (known as “the Magnificent” in the west), the pattern of father-son succession changed to that of seniority: the eldest male in the dynasty succeeded. A number of elements caused this transition, but the main causes were the ending of princely careers (the princes did not go to the provinces by stayed in the palace), the cessation of fratricide, the sedentarization of the dynasty as offensive war slowed, and the succession of several young sultans. These were all interrelated. When a young sultan who had not proven his reproductive capacity succeeded, it was unwise to execute his brothers and risk the extinction of the dynasty. With the princes remaining in the palace, they were not permitted to reproduce and thereby achieve full adulthood, which meant by around 1600 and beyond, every sultan was of unproven reproductive capacity. Fratricide was also more difficult for the populace to accept when it happened in Istanbul, in prominent view (one sultan was buried with his nineteen underage sons, killed by their elder half-brother). With a series of unproven sultans, the queen mother – valide sultan – became the glue that held the Ottoman dynasty together.

            Peirce explains how the power of early sultans’ favorites, such as Hurrem the favorite of Süleyman, ultimately led to an increase in the power the valide sultan exercised in the 1600s. This power became institutionalized, and was reflected in the massive public works that queen mothers undertook and the huge stipends they received. Since valide sultans were beyond their sexual years (even if they were physically able, they were seen as socially past that stage of life), they were held in higher esteem and possessed greater power and influence than the sultan’s concubines. With the changed mode of succession, the “the relationship between mother and son … became the fundamental dynastic bond, in terms not only of its political utility … but also its public celebration” (229). The valide sultan represented the elder generation and so was the head of the dynastic family. She might even be called on to sanction the deposition of one sultan and his replacement by another Ottoman, again emphasizing how sovereignty was vested in the family as a whole. Her role was particularly important during the early 1600s when a series of youthful and incompetent sultans ruled, but waned over time. Her official role could not infringe on sultanic authority.            

Peirce’s work excellently showcases how the early-modern Ottoman state relied on a family model of rule, although the sultan was obviously supreme. The valide sultan’s role was not a corruption of sovereignty but a necessary part of dynastic rule. The book also details how princesses, through their marriages to high-ranking officials, helped their mothers form blocs of power that could ultimately benefit their brothers. In the Ottoman system, “the principal tension within the dynastic family was generational competition for power” (285). As the family elder, the valide sultan had a vital role, although she could not obstruct the sultan’s exercise of power.

Book of the Month: Playing Their Part: Vice-Regal Consorts of New South Wales 1788-2019

Our December Book of the Month is Playing Their Part: Vice-Regal Consorts of New South Wales 1788-2019, edited by Joy Hughes, Carol Liston, and Christine Wright (Royal Australian Historical Society, 2020). You can purchase a digital copy of the fascinating, beautiful, and affordable book here. This book gives a fascinating look into the lives of the women and men who represented the British Monarchy in New South Wales. Although the Governor of New South Wales was an official posting, the role of consort was a required, albeit unofficial, one. Governors who did not have spouses would have a daughter or sister fill the role.

Royal Australian Historical Society

The vice-regal consorts were supposed to set social standards and to be above reproach. It was mainly a social role: the consort was to attend social functions, support charities, and not be overtly political. The consorts played a vital role in ensuring the success of the vice-regal governors, and several of the consorts were instrumental in advancing their spouse’s careers. For instance, the first governor, Phillip, owed a great deal to his two wives, who helped him to advance socially. Other consorts served as secretaries to their husbands, and one, Anna Josepha King (consort 1800-1806) was even known as Queen Josepha (page 31) because she was so helpful to and influential over her husband.

Nearly all of the consorts engaged in traditional feminine patronage, supporting orphans, schools for underprivileged girls, mother and infant health, and later, the Girl Guides. Generally, their social welfare work endeared them to the New South Wales population, although there might still be criticisms in the newspapers about who and how they entertained. The biography of Nea, Lady Robinson (consort 1872-1879), highlights how she was a social success overall, yet was still subtly criticized for not doing “enough to raise standards in social life” (91).

Many of the consorts kept personal diaries and sent many letters, which served as valuable sources for these biographies. A number of the consorts really come alive on the page through these personal anecdotes. Lady Woodward’s comment that she moved around so much she learned she could not plant a lettuce and then eat it (172) was one of many amusing and lively comments in the book. Newspapers also served as a major source for the book, which provided valuable insight into how the media portrayed and perceived the various consorts. While the papers often praised the vice-regal consorts, frequently commenting on their fashion (not much has changed!), the papers would also critique.

Of particular interest is Margaret, Countess of Jersey (consort 1891-1893). Her involvement in the conservative party organization the Primrose League and her role as founding president of the Victoria League “places Lady Jersey as one of the leading imperialists in Edwardian Britain” (106). Her biography highlights some of the ways that aristocratic women promoted imperialism and also reminds readers that women had a vital role to play in enacting British power. While women were disadvantaged in some respects (such as their lack of the vote, which the Countess supported), elite British women also upheld the hierarchies from which they benefited.

The biographies are also microcosms of societal changes. Many of the earlier governors and consorts were gentry, followed by several members of the high nobility. Later, there were many servicemen, until the 1990s, when Governor Samuels was appointed, the first lawyer and Jewish governor. His wife Jacqueline, was an actor who had had a long career in both the arts and at universities. The Samuelses were followed by Sir Nicholas Michael Shehadie, the first male consort, and Governor Professor Marie Bashir. Since 1946, the vice-regal families have been Australian, indicating recognition of the power and prestige of Australia itself.

The book is full of fascinating little facts, such as that Elizabeth Northcott, who served as consort to her father when her mother was ill, was required to curtsy to him when they met in the morning (168)! Grandchildren had to curtsy to their grandfather governor as well (173). Lady Rawson kept a pet kangaroo and some parrots (125).* These biographies also highlight how mobile people were during the colonial era. Many of the consorts had traveled with their spouses around the world, from posts in Canada, South Africa, and India, among others.

Finally, the book has many great images and photographs. Sketches and photographs chronicle the changing face of Government House, while images of many of the consorts provide an intimate touch. For anyone interested in the colonial government of New South Wales, this book will prove invaluable. It is also accessible for people with a general interest in monarchical studies, given that one does not have to be an expert in Australian history to enjoy the biographies. Overall, this book provides a great look into how monarchies showcase their power through “offshoot” (if you will) monarchies.

*This reader was surprised Lady Rawson was the only consort specifically mentioned as keeping a kangaroo as a pet. If I were a vice-regal consort, my number-one goal would be to have at least one pet kangaroo!

Interview with Matthew Firth

RSJ Blog: Hello Matthew, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview for us!

You’ve done a fascinating study on the ‘Character of the Treacherous Woman in the passiones of Early Medieval English Royal Martyrs’. Can you give us some background about why you chose this fascinating subject? Why these three royal women in particular?

Matthew: The starting point for this article, as with so much of my research, was the reign of Æthelred ‘the Unready.’ It was a reign that began in murder. Æthelred succeeded to the throne in 978 around the age of ten, following the assassination of his half-brother Edward ‘the Martyr.’ At his side was his mother Ælfthryth. Ælfthryth would wield significant political power in Æthelred’s minority and likely served as queen-regent.

She is a fascinating figure of late tenth-century English history. In contemporary sources Ælfthryth is a powerful and politically active woman: charter witness, landholder, legal advocate, reformer, patron of female religious houses, mediator with the king. She was also England’s first-known native-born queen-consort to be anointed as such. Yet, in the minds of the post-Conquest hagiographers and historians who relayed Edward’s assassination, Ælfthryth’s agency was anathema and it was she, in her thirst for power, who was the architect of Edward’s murder. This is a tradition that seems to start about a century after the event, and there is no contemporary evidence for her involvement in the plot.

So, as I began to research Ælfthryth’s evolving legacy, I also began to notice similarities between her characterisations and those of other royal women in early English saints’ lives. And here there are two tropes running parallel. Firstly, that of the so-called ‘boy-king’ martyrs, a reasonably common sub-genre of English hagiography which revolves around the murder of an innocent. And secondly, that of the ‘wicked queen,’ which is something of a universal motif with biblical and classical precedents. My survey of these saints’ lives landed on three cases that typified the intersection between these tropes: St Æthelberht of East Anglia and Queen Cynethryth of Mercia, St Kenelm of Mercia and his sister Cwenthryth, and Edward and Ælfthryth. The question then became, what underlies this literary construct? What societal attitudes would inform the transition of such royal women from early English history into stock literary antagonists at the hands of post-Conquest writers?  

RSJ Blog: Is this a well sourced area of royal studies? Did you encounter any challenges during your research?

Matthew: It’s a bit mixed. The ‘boy-kings’ of pre-Conquest England received some significant attention in the twentieth century. Even if commentary on the role of the female antagonists in their stories is limited, it does mean there is a body of scholarship to draw on. It also means there are accessible transcriptions of the texts, though only the Life of St Kenelm has an up-to-date critical edition. The Passion of St Æthelberht in particular could use a new edition as significant new manuscript traditions have come to light since it last received dedicated attention in 1917! This said, I am fortunate that in all cases the hagiographies exist in multiple manuscripts and that many of these have been digitised. Though the secondary challenge that then presents itself is sorting out which narrative tradition each manuscript belongs to; the lives of Æthelberht, Kenelm and Edward each have multiple progenitors.

RSJ Blog: Finally – can you tell us about any projects you’re working on at the moment?

Matthew: I’m mainly working on my thesis at the moment (which is what my supervisors want to hear!) – there I’m looking at the historicity of depictions of early medieval English kingship in the sagas of Icelanders. Which said, I do have a couple of other interesting projects on the go.

I recently published an article on the importance of sea-power to English kingship in the tenth century in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology with Dr Erin Sebo, and we’re collaborating again on an article examining the fabrication of King Hiarni in Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum. She and I also have an edited volume in the works on extreme or alien emotive display in medieval North Sea cultures. We’re quite excited about that project, it’s bringing together an excellent group of scholars from Celtic, Scandinavian, English and Frisian studies working across history, literature and archaeology disciplines.

Otherwise, I’m working as a research assistant on the Flinders University-led project Exiles: Medieval Responses to Isolation. One of the outputs from this will be a collection of themed essays for an upcoming issue of Neophilologus. For that, I’m writing an article, together with my colleague Cassandra Schilling, that looks at queenly exile in Old English literature and the correlating experiences of widowed queen-consorts in tenth-century England.

And that’s probably enough to be going on with! There are a few other projects on the horizon, but for now the thesis beckons…

RSJ Blog: Thanks again for talking to us!

Book of the Month: The Proclamations of the Tudor Queens

Our October book of the month is a classic, The Proclamations of the Tudor Queens by Frederic A. Youngs, Jr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976). Our sincerest thanks go to Valerie Schutte, who has authored this guest post for us. For more of Valerie’s work, please visit her website about Tudor Queens.

Frederic A. Youngs’s study, The Proclamations of the Tudor Queens, may be 44 years old, but it contains many ideas that still ring true for studying England’s first two regnant queens. He takes royal proclamations as the jumping point for comparing the two queens, as only one decade earlier, Paul F. Hughes and James F. Larkin produced their three-volume set of Tudor Royal Proclamations (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964, 1969), offering transcriptions of the proclamations of all five Tudor monarchs. Youngs builds upon Hughes’s and Larkin’s work by offering analysis of the proclamations issued during Mary’s and Elizabeth’s reign, while in the same year, Rudolph W. Heinze did the same for the proclamations of Henry VII, Henry VIII, and Edward VI, in The Proclamations of the Tudor Kings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).

            Youngs shows that royal proclamations were important because they had the ability to reach a wide audience, being both printed and hung in public spaces, as well as read aloud for the illiterate. They were also temporary and limited, so as not to interfere with Parliamentary legislation. Both Mary and Elizabeth issued royal proclamations in response to crises and disorder, as well as to assist with the interim religious settlements until their first Parliaments met. Both queens also issued royal proclamations on dissident books which challenged official policy, although Elizabeth issued several more as she had to deal with both Catholic and Protestant dissent. Primarily, they used the proclamations as temporary legislation or to notify the public of some new government administration.

            For the Tudor queens, often proclamations were issued to protect their personal honor, not from personal interest; Henry VIII left behind personally corrected draft proclamations while neither queen did. Rather, Mary and Elizabeth’s proclamations were more about public policy. During Mary’s reign, she and her Privy Council issued 64 royal proclamations, while during Elizabeth’s reign she and her Council issued 382. Comparisons of these proclamations show that Mary used proclamations to explain changes in religion and justify her decisions, such as to marry Philip, while Elizabeth did not give her opinions to the masses. Youngs repeatedly emphasizes that proclamations were meant to deal with issues in the short term, until Parliament could enact permanent law or the specific issue at hand was handled.

            In three sections, Youngs shows how proclamations were used to deal with matters of security, social and economic interest, and religious settlement and dissent. For security purposes, both queens issued proclamations in response to rebellions and to keep the peace in various localities. For economic management, Mary and Elizabeth issued a total of 225 proclamations on topics ranging from coinage to wages to market regulation; both queens had to address the wool trade in regards to their current foreign relations. Youngs points out that one of earliest and most pressing matters for both queens was the religious settlement. He writes, “although the permanent settlements at which they arrived were diametrically opposed, the half-sisters experienced the identical need to preserve order and to prevent religious contention, and thus there was a great similarity between the interim settlements: they regulated preaching, controlled the press, forbade plays which touched on religion and matters of state, and provided instruction on doctrine (183).” All of this was done using proclamations.

            Unsurprisingly, with Elizabeth’s reign being 40 years longer than Mary’s, there are many more proclamations and evidence on which Youngs draws upon. But he does make a valiant effort to compare and incorporate both queens in all sections of his book. It reinforces how both queens faced similar challenges and rebellions which required royal response. For example, Youngs spends a whole chapter demonstrating how religious opposition in both reigns was greatly fostered through print; dissenting books caused continual problems. Yet, both regimes used similar tactics against dissent. A Marian statute against seditious books was reissued and applied in Elizabeth’s first Parliament, and again in 1581.

What is so remarkable about Youngs’s study is that in his comparison he does not find either queen wanting in her abilities as monarch, nor use one queen as a foil to bolster the other. He straight-forwardly explores the proclamations issued by each queen, which were often done to address an immediate threat, and explains how each queen similarly used proclamations often to the same effect, relying upon the precedent and tradition of their father. He also remarks upon instances when Elizabeth followed the precedent of Mary regarding the issuance or subject matter of a specific proclamation. For example, in 1553, Mary issued a proclamation to enforce nine previous statutes. Similarly, in 1561, Elizabeth ordered that thirteen of her statutes be enforced. Refreshingly, he finds many similarities among the proclamations, but does not do so at the expense of Mary. Youngs’s book truly seems ahead of its time in exploring aspects of governance that Mary demonstrated for Elizabeth and should be given its due as seminal to the study of the Tudor queens.

Book of the Month: Loyalty to the Monarchy in Late Medieval and Early Modern Britain, c.1400-1688

September’s book of the month is Loyalty to the Monarchy in Late Medieval and Early Modern Britain, c.1400-1688, edited by Matthew Ward and Matthew Hefferan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). Matthew Ward graciously summarized the book for interested readers. Thank you, Matthew! This sounds like a fantastic collection!

Purchase Here

The book explores the place of loyalty in the relationship between the monarchy and their subjects in late medieval and early modern Britain. It focuses on a period in which political and religious upheaval tested the bonds of loyalty between ruler and ruled. The era also witnessed changes in how loyalty was developed and expressed. The first section focuses on royal propaganda and expressions of loyalty from the gentry and nobility under the Yorkist and early Tudor monarchs, as well as the fifteenth-century Scottish monarchy. The chapters illustrate late-medieval conceptions of loyalty, exploring how they manifested themselves and how they persisted and developed into early modernity. Loyalty to the later Tudors and early Stuarts is scrutinised in the second section, gauging the growing level of dissent in the build-up to the British Civil Wars of the seventeenth century. The final section dissects the role that the concept of loyalty played during and after the Civil Wars, looking at how divergent groups navigated this turbulent period and examining the ways in which loyalty could be used as a means of surviving the upheaval.

Four chapters deal with the issue of propaganda and royal attempts to foster loyalty among their subjects. The first of these, by Emma Levitt, considers the importance of tournaments in allowing the first Yorkist king, Edward IV, to cultivate friendship and personal loyalty among the English nobility following his usurpation of the crown. Wesley Corrêa’s chapter focuses on royal propaganda under the Yorkist and early Tudor monarchies and suggests that propaganda was not, at this time, a one-way flow of information, but rather a dialogue in which the crown used the channels of information available to it to promote itself and court the people for approval, legitimacy, taxation and loyalty. Likewise, Michael A. Heimos uses two important legal cases from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to examine what the common law concept of ‘allegiance’ reveals about the way in which contemporaries understood and discussed the loyalty that each subject owed to the monarchy. Finally, Janet Dickinson examines how Elizabeth I was able to use the concept of courtly love to foster loyalty among her nobles, some of whom had difficulty reconciling their Catholic faith with their allegiance to Protestant England.

On the other side of the coin, many of the chapters in this volume are concerned with the way in which the subjects of British monarchs expressed their loyalty. Callum Watson offers a valuable re-reading of Blind Harry’s fifteenth-century poem The Wallace to argue that, rather than being a subversive text written in support of those dissatisfied with King James III of Scotland’s rule, the poem was intended to encourage those with grievances against the king to cling to those values for which the king was supposed to stand, even when the king failed to embody those values himself. Other chapters explore how loyalty to the monarchy was demonstrated for less idealistic reasons, and more in the self-interest of the person or community professing loyalty. Simon Lambe uses the Paulet family of Somerset as a case study to demonstrate how expressions of loyalty to the monarchy could be used by a gentry family in the hope of receiving royal patronage in the form of land and office, especially as religious reforms gained pace in the 1530s. Similarly, Valerie Schutte uses the previously untapped evidence of book dedications during Henry VIII’s reign to show how the sixteenth-century nobility used dedications to profess loyalty to the king in the hope of receiving royal favour and influence as they navigated a new religious and political landscape. John Pagan, meanwhile, explores how the royal colony of Virginia sought to use the reciprocal relationship of loyalty and protection with the king of England to avoid a parliamentary tax that the colonists found unduly burdensome, but were ultimately unsuccessful in the face of the British monarchy’s unwillingness to use grievance petitions as vehicles for questioning imperial policies formulated by the king and parliament. Finally, James Harris investigates how ‘repeated testimonies of duty and affection’ were used in Cornwall and southwest Wales to reaffirm loyalty to the crown following the restoration of the monarchy in the second half of the seventeenth century.

A number of chapters in this volume are, by contrast, interested in disloyalty, dissent and subversion. Jamie Gianoutsos examines how religious persecution in the seventeenth century tested the boundaries of loyalty to the English monarchy. Focusing on the persecution of three key puritan protestors, John Bastwick, Henry Burton and William Prynne, Gianoutsos argues that these men adopted a mixture of religious polemic, historical exempla and gendered language to successfully justify disobedience to the English Church. Religious division was not the only cause of dissent in the seventeenth century. The reign of Charles I, and the Civil Wars which it encompassed, was also divisive. This is reflected in the chapter by Richard Bullock, which assesses how sheriffs in the East Midlands found their loyalties divided between the king and their local community when Charles I sought alternative sources of revenue to parliamentary subsidies and the enhanced use of prerogative rights. Edward Legon, meanwhile, examines how disloyalty to the crown continued even after the Restoration in 1660, often with dangerous consequences for those involved. Nevertheless, despite the opportunities for dissent that the Civil Wars presented, others remained loyal to the British monarchy. This included, as Andrew Lind’s chapter demonstrates, a number of Scottish Royalists who, despite the dangers that support of the crown presented for them, remained steadfast in their deep-rooted belief that good subjects owed loyalty to the king.

Book of the Month: Counsel and Command in Early Modern English Thought by Joanne Paul

This month the RSJ Blog is delighted to feature Counsel and Command in Early Modern English Thought by Joanne Paul.

Book available here

Joanne’s book takes up the issue of counsel in early modern England. As her introduction expertly lays out, counsel is tricky: if counsel is required, it diminishes the monarch’s sovereignty but if counsel is optional, it becomes essentially useless.

The book argues for three things:

            it provides an account of the move from the monarchy of counsel to modern notions of sovereignty, making the argument that the paradoxes inherent in the discourse of counsel prompt this transition. Second, it contributes to an understanding of the boundaries of this change, in particular the division between public and private that is essential to modern ideas of politics. … Thus, third, this study contributes a new perspective on the development of modern ‘political science’, by tracing the moves from moral philosophising to historical knowledge to the observation of contemporary affairs in the writings about the counsellor (4).

The first chapter, on the humanist counsellor, focuses on the writings of Erasmus, More and Castiglione. These works grapple with ideas about princely education, too, and the balance between instruction and counsel. The second chapter investigates what humanists said about the timing of giving counsel. Erasmus and More largely argued for silence until the opportune moment, while a younger generation of writers, such as Thomas Starkey and Thomas Elyot, disagreed. They wanted counsel to be more public and institutionalized. Although these humanists disagreed on when a counsellor should speak up, they all agreed that rulers needed to listen to counsel.

Chapter three looks at Machiavellian counsel in England. Machiavelli argued it was better for the ruler to be good and capable than his counsellors to be. In addition, he thought counsellors would probably be selfish and should be kept in check. The ruler needed to command and dominate his counsellors, a contrast with humanist arguments. Exploring eight related aspects of Machiavellian counsel, this chapter expertly contrasts it with humanist perspectives that saw counsel in more positive terms.

Chapter four looks at the acceptance of Machiavellian ideas even by those opposed to his work. Prudence in the political sphere is separated from morality. Politics becomes morally flexible or even amoral, and counsellors are not expected to keep a ruler from being a tyrant by cultivating the monarch’s virtue. Chapter five, “Late Tudor Counsellors,” focuses on how these new ideas, coupled with “weak” monarchs (children and women) led to increased institutionalization of counsel as represented by Parliament and the Privy Council. Humanist texts promoted the idea that child and female monarchs would be in particular need of advice, but Machiavellian ideas suggested individual, selfish counsellors could and would exploit these monarchs for their own gain. This tension helped to change the way counsel operated.

Chapter six looks at “Reason of State,” wherein knowledge of the contemporary world, rather than virtue, is the main qualification for a counsellor. The chapter argues the Stuart monarchs preferred this idea because it helped them to re-assert monarchical power after the “weak” (and so exceptionally counsel-needing) late Tudor rulers. The counsellor is further subordinated to the monarch because he transmits information rather than guidance on morally-correct governance.

Chapter seven looks at some of the counsel-related problems faced by James VI/I and Charles I. While both kings saw counsel as subordinate to their authority, they relied on personal favorites as counsellors. On the other side, theorists and politicians saw Parliament as the best choice of counsel, contending that Parliament’s self-interest was the state’s interest. Another aspect of the English Civil War is the fight over counsel. Through investigation of the writings of theorists such as Thomas Hobbs, the chapter argues that ideas about counsel fade away in the later 1600s as discourses of sovereignty come to the fore.

This fascinating book gives insight not only into the political thought of early modern England, but also offers ideas on why and how political discourse has changed over time.

The blog also caught up with Joanne to ask her a few questions.

RSJ Blog: How did you get the idea for the book?

Joanne: This book emerged out of my PhD, which I completed under the supervisor of Professor Quentin Skinner at Queen Mary, University of London. From my undergraduate onwards I had been interested in what we might think of as the ‘middle men’ in the Tudor court, as well as in the writings of the time which theorised about their role. The Tudor political discourse thought a lot about these intermediaries, who sat between ‘the people’ and ‘the ruler’. When I first sat down with Professor Skinner, we discussed that two ways in which we might explore these figures and the writings about them: (a) work on ambassadors and themes of representation or (b) work on counsellors and themes of rhetoric. I chose the latter. This was largely because almost every political text of the time, especially in England, devotes significant attention to the role of ‘the counsellor’, and yet there was no book-length study of the topic. I focused particularly on the relationship between ‘counsel’ (giving advice) and ‘command’ (giving orders): a relationship which thinkers have been contemplating since Homer and which reached a head (as it were) during the English Civil War. The ‘paradox’ is fairly straightforward: if your advice isn’t obligatory and can be ignored, what is the point in giving it (especially when it might come at great cost)? On the other hand: if it is obligatory, then it isn’t advice. In either case, counsel becomes less important than command. The working out of this paradox shapes much of the political thinking of Tudor and Stuart England, defining events such as the Break with Rome and the Civil War and sweeping up figures such as Thomas More, Elizabeth I and Charles I.

RSJ Blog: For students who want to undertake similar work, what archives or printed sources do you recommend starting with?

Joanne: Fortunately, much of what I was looking at is available in print form, and some in modern editions (such as Utopia, The Prince, Leviathan, etc). Those that have not been printed since the Early Modern Period can be found on online resources such as Early English Books Online. It is difficult to read any political tract of the age without coming across the figure of the counsellor (and most were written by counsellors themselves and offered as advice!). For those looking at the inner workings of counsel itself, which is not something I devoted much time to in this book but is work that needs doing, State Papers Online is a fantastic repository of letters offered by counsellors (formal and informal) to those they advised (not always their monarch). Most calendars of papers (for instance those on British History Online) also give a good impression of the type of advice given, how it was framed, the rhetorical devises used, and so on. But I do think it is difficult to understand such sources without understanding the widely-held and circulated ideas about these matters. There were essentially guidebooks about how to give advice, based on the texts about rhetoric taught in schools. I think we can wander astray if we do not understand the intellectual framework in which these counsellors were consciously and unconsciously operating.

RSJ Blog: What are you working on now?

Joanne: I have just finished my first draft of a narrative history of the sixteenth-century Dudley family, to be published with Michael Joseph (Penguin imprint), a book I had the idea for while working on Counsel and Command. I am also working on modern editions of two sixteenth-century texts. The first (for Tudor and Stuart Texts) is The French Historie, written by Anne Dowriche in 1589, which I also used in Counsel and Command. This is an often overlooked text by a female Elizabethan writer, and I think it deserves a modern edition. I am also producing a new edition of Utopia by Thomas More (for Oxford World Classics), based on the mid-sixteenth-century English translation. This early translation of More’s text is interesting in its own right, and I will be striving to bring that out in my editing. This work follows up on my book on Thomas More’s thought, published with Polity in 2017.   

RSJ Blog: Thank you!

Interview with Louise Tingle

Louise Tingle is an independent scholar who recently completed her PhD in history at Cardiff University. Her work focuses on late medieval English queens. Her article “Aurum Reginae: Queen’s Gold in Late Fourteenth-Century England” appears in issue 7.1 of the Royal Studies Journal.

Philippa of Hainault. Image in public domain and from Wikipedia

RSJ Blog: Thank you for talking with us! For those who don’t know, could you briefly describe queen’s gold?

Louise: Queen’s gold was an extra payment on fines owing to the king, with the profits going to the queen and her household. Originally the custom was in return for the queen’s activity as an intercessor, but by the late fourteenth century, it was essentially an extra tax whether the queen had intervened or not – no wonder it was unpopular and difficult to make people pay! By this time, the tenure of Philippa of Hainault, queen’s gold had been set at a rate of ten per cent which recipients had to pay on essentially any privilege granted by the king, including licences, pardons and other perks. However, when individuals argued against having to pay essentially an extra tax, they tended to base their arguments on whether the fine in question was one liable for queen’s gold, rather than arguing against the queen’s right to claim queen’s gold as a whole. Others seem not to have responded at all, as shown by the multiple examples of the same writ issued for the same claim.

RSJ Blog: What are some of the source problems you faced researching and writing about queen’s gold?

Louise: The main problem with looking at the writs for queen’s gold is that very few of the writs survive. Fortunately, in the seventeenth century a large selection of records from Eleanor of Aquitaine to the Tudor queens were transcribed with the objective of investigating the possibility of queen’s gold under the queen consort at that time. Of the writs surviving in the National Archives, a large amount of these were issued under Philippa of Hainault, which is unsurprising given Philippa’s fairly long tenure for a medieval queen, lasting over forty years. Even so, most of these writs derive from a very few years towards the end of Philippa’s life and still may not represent all of the writs issued. In addition, few records exist for the accounts of the revenues derived from collecting queen’s gold, which makes it difficult to ascertain just how much of the writs issued were actually paid.

RSJ Blog: Since your article focuses on Philippa of Hainault, what are your thoughts on her as a queen?

Louise: I think the image that survives of Philippa in the popular memory is very different from the historical Philippa! There are several stories relating to Philippa – for which we have the chronicler Froissart as well as Victorian biographers to thank – which probably aren’t even true at all. The most famous of these is the story of Philippa’s intercession for the burghers of Calais which poses Philippa as the quintessential merciful queen, when in reality she probably wasn’t present at all. It is however a story that has done wonders for Philippa’s reputation!

I do think that Philippa maintained a close working relationship, if not a loving one, with her husband and it seems that Edward chose to retire in his later years to be near her. Philippa is often forgotten in contrast to queens like Eleanor of Aquitaine and her mother-in-law Isabella of France, who were both queens who in some ways stepped outside the bounds of conventional femininity. Philippa’s role as a prolific mother and her reputation as an intercessor would have classed her as a ‘good’ queen according to contemporaries, even if they might not have liked her lavish lifestyle and spending. Her inconspicuous reputation may have been deliberate in contrast to the upheaval caused in the previous reign when Isabella was involved in the deposition of her husband.

RSJ Blog: What are your current projects?

Louise: I’m currently writing the chapter on one of Philippa’s successors, Isabella de Valois, for a four-volume set on English royal consorts in Palgrave Macmillan’s Queenship and Power series. I’m also in the process of publishing my first book, Chaucer’s Queens, in the same series, which focuses on Philippa of Hainault and Anne of Bohemia, and where queen’s gold features as the linchpin between queenly intercession and patronage.

RSJ Blog: Thank you! We look forward to reading your new work!

Book of the Month: Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media

This month, the Royal Studies Journal blog is featuring a book that accompanies an exhibit at the The Foundling Museum. Both the book and the exhibit are entitled “Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media” and were curated by Karen Hearn. The exhibit runs until 23 August 2020 and tickets can be purchased here.

As Karen explained to the blog: “The book and exhibition are the first ever to focus on portraits of pregnant women in British art over a 500-year period.  Although up to the early 20th century many women spent most of their adult years being pregnant, their pregnancies are seldom made apparent in surviving portraits. Portraying Pregnancy considers the different ways in which (from the late Middle Ages onwards) a sitter’s pregnancy was, or was not, visibly represented to the viewer, and how the social mores and preoccupations of different periods have impacted the ways in which pregnant women have been depicted.

The book addresses a number of British royal women, including Anne Boleyn, Mary I, Elizabeth I, Anna of Denmark, Henrietta Maria, and Charlotte Augusta, Princess of Wales. The book is extensively illustrated with painted portraits, drawings, miniatures, prints, photographs, sculpture, textiles and objects.

Both the book and the exhibition offer a new lens through which to look at history and art history, by rethinking the context in which portraits of women were made in the past.”

The book contains 60 high-quality illustrations, making it a fantastic accompaniment to the exhibit or a substitute for those of us who are unable to visit The Foundling Museum. The book can be purchased here or through The Foundling Museum when purchasing exhibit tickets.

Conference Report on “Global Royal Families”

This conference report comes to us from Paige Emerick at the University of Leicester. Thank you, Paige!

Global Royal Families: Concepts, Cultures, and Networks of International Monarchy, 1800–2020. Conference held at the German Historical Institute London, 16–18 January 2020. Conveners: Falko Schnicke (GHIL), Cindy McCreery (University of Sydney), and Robert Aldrich (University of Sydney).


Co-financed by the GHIL and the University of Sydney, this event
brought together scholars from four continents and eight countries to
discuss the timely issue of global monarchies. Over the two and a half
days there were almost forty attendees, and nineteen speakers presented
ideas spanning royal families across two centuries and the continents
of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Despite the wide variation
in time periods and geographical locations covered, there were
many overlapping and complementary themes, including the importance
of the visibility of monarchs, the need to secure status on a global
stage, the role of royals as official and unofficial diplomats, and the
media’s influence over the public image of a royal person or dynasty.
The conference’s main findings were that the global, national, and
regional aspects of royal families were constantly intertwined, and
that the political significance of monarchies recurred in different
nineteenth- and twentieth-century contexts.

The conference opened with Robert Aldrich’s (University of Sydney) introductory talk detailing the coverage of global royal families
in history and historiography. Starting with comparative examples
from both the early nineteenth century and modern-day marriages
between the Napoleon and Habsburg dynasties, Aldrich highlighted
the intertwined genealogical, political, and cultural ties between
royal families across the world. He maintained that in the nineteenth
century European monarchies were affected by empire, which demonstrated their power to conquer and their interest in collections of
‘exotica’. Yet at the same time, non-European monarchies were adopting Western styles of clothing, architecture, and court culture in order
to be more accepted on the global stage.


The first session focused on royalty in international affairs and
diplomacy and opened with a paper by Moritz A. Sorg (University of
Freiburg), which examined the extent to which the First World War damaged the relationships of royal families across Europe. Sorg provided
parallel case studies of Ferdinand I of Bulgaria and Ferdinand
I of Romania to demonstrate how the First World War placed related
monarchies on opposite sides, and the consequential impact this had
on how these royal individuals were viewed in their respective countries
and under the conditions of increasing nationalism. Next,
Michael Kandiah’s (King’s College London) paper looked at how the
British royal family has utilized its ‘soft power’ since 1952 to improve
diplomatic relations between countries. Using oral testimonies of
British diplomats, Kandiah explored how Queen Elizabeth II has
been able to use her royal status, which places her above politics, in
order to maintain good relationships through official engagements,
both internationally and in Britain.


The second session centred on the House of Windsor and their re –
lationship with foreign royal houses. Continuing the focus on Queen
Elizabeth II and the current British royal family, Falko Schnicke
(GHIL) delivered a paper which analysed the content of speeches
given at state visits and highlighted the input that the government
and the Palace had into these. He proved that it was the Foreign
Office which inserted personal family remarks into speeches in order
to demonstrate the network of monarchies and the intensity of international royal relationships. Thus the royal family functioned as a
collective unit rather than as a collection of individuals. Following
this Hilary Sapire (Birbeck College, University of London) examined
the relationship between the British and Zulu royal families in South
Africa in the colonial period and through the early twentieth century.
She argued that royal events and the links to the British monarchy
were used by both Zulu monarchists and nationalists to advance their
cause of independence.


The first day closed with a keynote lecture by Frank Mort (University of Manchester), which analysed how the media was used to
transform the monarchy under George V and Queen Mary, and
Edward VIII, into a consumable entity for the public. The increased
visibility of the royal family through informal royal visits both in
Britain and the colonies helped to make them more accessible to the
ordinary public. Mort took a bottom-up approach to judging how the
public emotionally responded to different members of the royal family
by drawing upon first-hand accounts of seeing royalty. He argued
that the rise of human-interest journalism meant that there was a more extensive and global coverage of the royal family, and an attempt to make them more approachable by encouraging them to conduct unceremonious visits. He stressed the differences between George V and Queen Mary, helping to solidify the notion of the royal family as a domestic unit, while the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) fostered a celebrity culture around his younger lifestyle.


The second day of the conference began with session three, which
looked at the global reach of the British monarchy, with John R. Davis
(Queen Mary London/Historic Royal Palaces) beginning with British
attitudes towards India in the nineteenth century. Using Queen
Victoria’s diaries and the Royal Library catalogues, Davis
argued that Queen Victoria was first introduced to German
philology by Prince Albert. This early introduction to philology,
and repeated meetings with renowned scholars such as Max Müller,
helped to fuel her interest in Indian culture during the latter part of
her life. Moving into the twentieth century, Christian Oberländer
(University of Halle-Wittenberg) presented a contrast to this with a
paper analysing how the British royal family was a model for
Japan’s Imperial house, looking particularly at the role of the
Japanese sovereign as a ‘symbolic’ emperor after the Second World
War. He argued that through the Japanese Imperial family
embracing state visits, they placed themselves as the figureheads of
the nation and allowed Japan to open itself up to the public at home
and in the West.


Session four continued the theme of royal travel by focusing on
the Spanish and Austrian royal families. First, Javier Moreno-Luzón
(Complutense University of Madrid) explained how Alfonso XIII of
Spain (r.1886–1931) fostered closer relations with Latin America
through royal visits, celebrations, and a shared culture to create a
transnational image of the royal family. He argued that from the late
nineteenth century to the end of the 1920s, the royal family successfully
promoted Spanish national identity centring on the monarchy
through the careful selection of different royal individuals to send to
Hispanophone Latin American countries. They were thus able simultaneously to promote historic ties with Spain and highlight a progressive future. Aglaja Weindl (University of Munich) provided a
case study of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and how he became an
‘unexpected global royal’ because of his world tour in 1892–3. This
extensive travelling not only educated the Archduke but provided an opportunity to build better relations with Protestant and Orthodox
countries. Using Franz Ferdinand’s own accounts, Weindl provided
a personal insight into the repetitive nature of royal ceremonies
across Europe and how the guests felt about attending them.


Session five focused on global encounters, with Judith
Rowbotham (University of Plymouth) using a range of local, national,
and colonial newspapers to analyse the reception of the British
royal family within different colonies. Taking examples of tours
through India, Canada, Australia, and beyond from the late nineteenth
to the early twentieth century, Rowbotham emphasized the
impact that these visits had on global networking and diplomacy.
Specifically tailoring the tone of the visit and activities not only aided
relationships with the authorities, but allowed a sense of community
to develop in the colonial public. Cindy McCreery (University of
Sydney) followed this with a case study of the 1881 visit to Japan by
King Kalakaua of Hawai’i and princes Albert Victor and George of
Great Britain, and explored how this occasion was used to promote
better relations between the countries. Highlighting similarities that
mirrored Oberländer’s paper, McCreery argued that the opening
of Japan to royal visits was an attempt by the country to reinvent
its global image, appear more welcoming, and encourage trade
deals. Such a tour also allowed the King of Hawai’i to develop an
international presence. Photographs of the visit demonstrated that
there was a clear acknowledgement of the status of foreign
royalty, while showing differences in hierarchy due to age and
position in relation to the throne.


The next session focused on the importance of letter-writing between royals, with emphasis on female family relations. Susanne Bauer (University of Trier) presented her research project of cataloguing
and analysing the 20,000 letters of Augusta Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Queen of Prussia and Empress of Germany. Bauer argued that Augusta expressed many political opinions in these letters, tried to advise her husband (whether he asked for advice or not), and was a key factor in building relationships with royalty and politicians across Europe and beyond, with approximately 230 royal and nonroyal correspondents. Mary T. Duarte (Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, USA) analysed letters written over the course of the nineteenth century by four generations of female royals from the line of descendants of Maria Theresa of the House of Habsburg. She scrutinized the type of advice passed from mother to daughter, and between grandmother and granddaughter, especially
pertaining to marriage and sexual life. She contended that as the
generations went on, the tone of this advice softened, although
duty and obedience were still often stressed.


The second keynote lecture of the conference was delivered by
Irene Stengs (Meertens Instituut/Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam),
who provided an in-depth anthropological analysis of the mourning
culture in Thailand following the death of King Rama IX in 2016, and
the meaning of the symbolism and rituals in the coronation ceremony
of King Rama X in 2019. Taking a step-by-step approach through
the elements and stages of the coronation ceremony, Stengs highlighted
how this event was used to unite the country through shared
experience and emotions. While there were historical and religious
precedents for several aspects of the event, the incorporation of modern
technology, such as mass television broadcasting and drones,
gave the new monarch increased accessibility and a personal quality.
She also presented a close analysis of the use of colour by the organizers
of the event to mark a new reign, and explained the significance
this holds within Thai culture.


The final day of the conference started with a session exploring
regional dynasties and transnational royal families. Aidan Jones
(King’s College London) gave a case study of Alexander II of Russia’s
visit to Britain in 1874 on the occasion of his daughter Marie’s marriage
to Prince Alfred. He analysed the dynastic politics of the marriage
arrangement and the wider implications this had for international
diplomacy. Priya Naik (University of Delhi) followed this with
a paper exploring the consumption of Britishness by Indian princes
in the first half of the twentieth century. She argued that by consuming
goods, language, culture, and customs, Indian princes were hoping
to be accepted by British society and to join an international aristocratic
network.


The final session analysed the different international models of
monarchy. Nicholas Miller (University of Lisbon), like McCreery,
focused on King Kalakaua of Hawai’i (r.1874–91) but compared him
to Sultan Abu Bakar of Johore (r.1886–95) in the Malay States. He
focused on the two kings’ different approaches to ruling small monarchies and gaining international recognition for their states, and
addressed the issue of labour migration. Charles Reed (Elizabeth City
State University, Elizabeth City, USA) closed the conference by
returning to India via the Gaekwad of Baroda. Like Naik, he highlighted
the Gaekwad’s desire to foster good relations with the British.
Reed’s approach was to explore how this was achieved through the
lens of royal visits to Britain from the later nineteenth century and the
public image they were trying to promote of a princely state in India
during the colonial period and after independence.


The conference closed with reflections from the co-organizers,
who drew out some of the key themes from across the papers. The
breadth of the time period and geographical locations covered highlighted
that monarchies had achieved local, national, and global
reaches. Several papers pointed out that royalty was used, often
unofficially, for diplomatic reasons to improve relationships between
dynasties and nations, which provoked discussions about how individual
royal persons perceived their role. It was agreed that monarchy
is an evolving concept, and in recent times, by embracing modern
technology and utilizing media coverage, royal families have
been able to appear relatable and relevant to contemporary society.
The importance of the family unit at the heart of the monarchy was
understood to be a central factor in emphasizing the longevity and
stability of the institution, and some of the paradoxes of private life
and public role for royal families had been illustrated throughout the
papers. Finally, the visibility of royalty, either through first-hand
accounts of travel, or increased coverage in the press and
accompanying images, was a central theme across many of the
papers. This increased visibility frequently allowed royal individuals
to appear more personable, and enhanced their popularity
nationally and globally. The conference also confirmed the need for
further studies, even in the twenty-first century, on the evolving
central position in political, social, and cultural life occupied by
monarchs and their royal families in many countries.

An Interview with Amy Saunders

Amy Saunders is a PhD Candidate at the University of Winchester and has held various visitor experience roles at museums including the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Museums Sheffield. Amy’s current research explores sexuality and gender in relation to the seventeenth century Stuart monarchy.

RSJ Blog: I very much enjoyed your recent RSJ article, The Afterlife of Christina of Sweden: Gender and Sexuality in Heritage and Fiction. What drew you to this particular monarch, and what inspired you to examine her portrayal in modern film, fiction, and heritage?

Amy: Before starting my Undergraduate degree at The University of Winchester I read Karen Maitland’s historical fictional novel, Company of Lairs. Set in the fourteenth century this was the first historical fiction book I read which contained LGBTQ+ characters but wasn’t set in ancient Greece or Rome. I was spellbound by the narrative and it got me thinking about how we present sexuality in historical fiction. When we were asked to choose a topic for our Undergraduate dissertations, I knew immediately that I wanted to do something in this area. I went to my personal tutor, Ellie Woodacre, knowing what I wanted to explore but with had no idea where to start. I knew there was work around the sexuality of James VI & I and Henri III but if I was going to do a comparative study of early modern monarchs, I wanted to include a woman. Ellie immediately suggested Christina. I looked at fictional literature and film as there were several depictions to explore for each monarch. The heritage aspect came in later. During my first weeks at the V&A I realized that there was a print of Christina’s funeral in the European Galleries. I was so thrilled and every time an interested visitor came into the gallery, I would show them the print. It is so unassuming next to one of the huge Ommegang paintings (another great display of female power) and in the same gallery as an amazing Bernini sculpture (Christina was one of his patrons so this felt particularly relevant). Investigating the other objects in the gallery I began to see that there was a whole narrative there about female power, patronage and religion which I could share with visitors. Label texts have limited scope and the one which accompanied the print didn’t mention Christina’s sexuality or gender and this got me thinking about how we present sexuality and gender in heritage spaces. Even now when I go to the museum as a researcher or visitor, I always stop by to say hello to Christina.

Sébastien Bourdon, Christina of Sweden, 1653.

RSJ Blog: Imagine you are in charge of an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert museum on Christina. Without having to consider funding, how will you present the queen? What are the chief aspects of her life that you will highlight in the inscriptions? How will you market the exhibit to tourism groups, particularly those from the LGBTQ+ community?

Amy: If money and object loans were no object there are so many things I would want to include. Generally, I prefer a thematic exhibition, but I think organizing it chronologically might be more effective in this case. I would want it to cover all of her life and interests, and it would place her conversion within the wider context of the religious conflict taking place in seventeenth century Europe. This would really highlight how dramatic and high profile her conversion actually was. It would explore Christina’s childhood, and look at how she was affected by the narrative around her birth and the death of her father. Major focuses would also include her abdication and her life afterwards in Rome. The fictional representations end at her abdication or at her acceptance into Rome so it would be great to explore Christina beyond this. These fictional representations would also have a place in the exhibition, probably at the end, with montages from the three films. Christina was a great patron and collector of art. In Rome she created a room called the ‘Room of the Muses’ which contained statues that had been discovered at Hadrian’s Villa. The room had yellow marble columns and as the ninth muse was missing, Christina had her own throne installed in the space, placing her opposite Apollo. These statues are now in the Prado in Madrid, so if we could reconstruct that room that would be amazing. If this exhibition was to take place, the Prado would be the perfect partner as their collection also contains the wonderful equestrian portrait Christina sent to Philip IV of Spain. Christina’s coronation robes also still exist in Sweden so those would be a stunning edition to the exhibition. I think in terms of the interpretation text, the main thing would be to ensure that Christina’s gender and sexuality was openly included and discussed instead of marginalized or ignored. The V&A has a huge social media following and there is a very active LGBTQ+ community which engages with museums across the UK and shares events and exhibitions that explore LGBTQ+ narratives, which would help massively with advertising the exhibition. I would also want to create a program of events which coincided with the exhibition, which could range from talks and tours to film screenings and interviews with those involved in the production of these representations.

RSJ Blog: Why, do you think, it is that women are less included in examples of LGBTQ+ historical figures than their male counterparts in heritage collections? What about film and literature? I have seen countless depictions of Edward II of England’s sexuality, which is generally assumed to be homosexual, but, as you describe, the two films that tell Christina’s story choose to focus only on a heterosexual portrayal!

Amy: In terms of Christina and film, there are two films which present her as having heterosexual relationships and then there’s the most recent one directed by Mika Kaurismäki that explores her love for Ebba Sparre. In all of these depictions Christina’s relationships are ultimately unsuccessful whether due to an untimely death or because of the duties and expectations placed on her partners. In terms of the male homosexuality being more present within heritage sites, there could be a number of reasons for this. In Britain, homosexual acts between men were illegal until 1967, and even after this the age of consent was higher for same-sex male couples than it was for heterosexual couples. Women’s sexuality was discussed less, and it was believed that lesbianism was much less widespread. In this context highlighting male homosexual relationships in heritage spaces can be seen within a frame of rebellion, free speech and as supporting LGBTQ+ political movements. Not that long ago these narratives would have reflected illegal relationships, whereas now they can be freely discussed, celebrated, and openly identified with by members of the audience. I think this male homosexual focus will slowly start to shift as more LGBTQ+ histories are researched and presented to new audiences. The recent success of BBC series Gentleman Jack has increased visitors to Shibden Hall, the Yorkshire home of Anne Lister and her wife Ann Walker, by over 300%, showing the impact that uncovering and presenting LGBTQ+ narratives can have on heritage sites and their visitors. In terms of the ‘prescribed set’ that I discussed within the article being largely male, many people are already familiar with ancient Greek and Roman homosexual relationships, for example Achilles and Patroclus (the subject of Madeline Millers fantastic fictional book The Song of Achilles) and the Emperor Hadrian and his partner Antinous. This latter pair are found in almost every museum LGBTQ+ trail, suggesting that heritage sites feel that they are integral to exploring LGBTQ+ narratives within museum spaces. Moving forward into the late 19th century, you’ve got artists and literary heroes such as Oscar Wilde who have become iconic LGBTQ+ figures. I think LGBTQ+ figures like Wilde and Hadrian have become an expected part of the LGBTQ+ historical narrative and that their homosexuality has become a commonly discussed aspect of their lives. Their presence in tours and talks at heritage sites can be used to attract visitors and audiences who need some sort of familiarity to encourage their interest. Through these initial, commonly known narratives, heritage sites can then introduce these visitors to less well-known LGBTQ+ histories.

RSJ Blog: What is next for you? Will you continue to explore Christina?

Amy: I’m currently focusing on my PhD which looks at James VI & I, Anna of Denmark, Charles I, Henrietta Maria, Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, and how the sexual activities and perceived masculinity of the husbands affected their wives. Part of this will also examine how these figures are presented in heritage and will explore what factors cause them to be overlooked. If I’m fortunate enough to remain in academia after completing my PhD I would love to teach about Christina and share her fascinating history with other people. If any situation arises in which I can work, write and talk about her with other people I certainly will! Christina was buried in the Vatican and I’ve now dragged and encouraged countless people to go see her and think about why she’s there. I’ve never visited Sweden, so in terms of Christina that’s probably the next big thing!

RSJ Blog: Thanks so much, Amy, for sharing your research with us. We look forward to reading your upcoming work in the near future!