CCCU Prizes 2018

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also our early career and doctoral students in the field produce exceptional work: The 2018 RSJ-CCCU Prize for the best unpublished article by an ECR goes to Dr Alison Creber (KCL) for her article, “The Princely Woman and the Emperor: Imagery of Female Rule in Benzo of Alba’s Ad Heinricum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

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

current world monarchies

Current Monarchies simplified map

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

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

Current Monarchies in the Americas

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

monarchies in Oceania

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

 

current monarchies africa

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

current monarchies asia

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

current monarchies europe

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

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

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

Interview with Stella Fletcher: Cardinals and the War of Ferrara

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

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

Stella:  I’m flattered to have been asked.

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

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

Titian_Sixtus IV

Pope Sixtus IV, Titian ca. 1545

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Julius II_Raphael

Pope Julius II, Raphael ca. 1511

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

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

Kings & Queens 7 – Interview with Gabby Storey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Website for the Royal Studies Journal!

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

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

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

We hope you enjoy the new website!

Conference Report from Kalamazoo

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

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

Session One:

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

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

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

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

Session Two:

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with John Murphy on his article – Cardinal Reginald Pole: Questions of Self-Justification and of Faith

John Murphy is a historian and writer. He studied at the University of Leeds, where he also taught as well as at Westfield College and Exeter University. Today, he works as an independent scholar specializing in the Tudor Age. Next to his work in fiction he also writes articles such as “Cardinal Reginald Pole: Questions of Self-Justification and of Faith” that recently appeared in the Royal Studies Journal. Among his many talents he also creates tasty recipes which you can find on his blog under http://john-murphy.co.uk

Elena, Cathleen and Kristen: First of all, thank you John for doing this interview with us!

John Murphy: After those kind comments about my recipes how could I be less than delighted to answer your further questions?

Elena, Cathleen and Kristen: In your article you argue that “Pole and his contemporaries would not have understood human sexuality in modern terms”. Could you elaborate on that a little bit more?

John Murphy: Gay Studies and Gender studies are new intellectual disciplines and many of them have rested on the extraordinary work of Professor John Boswell. His thesis is set out in broadest terms in Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (Chicago, 1980). It establishes the idea that gay history is hidden in plain sight but although Boswell established a pedigree for adopting the term “gay” over “homosexual”  in historical narrative he remained sensitive to the fact that “homosexuality” is itself only an intellectual construct based on a nineteenth century understanding of human sexuality and gender. Therefore, whether or not Pole might be thought to be homosexual or homosocial or gay – which in my view stretches evidence beyond where it goes – he could not have considered himself in terms of possessing such a sexual identity. In the sixteenth century certain physical sexual acts were placed under legal prohibition in both in ecclesiastical and secular jurisdictions because of Biblical injunction – which is why for example “buggery” becomes a matter of treason under statute in England after Henry VIII’s separation from Rome. Platonic or non-sexualised same-sex love was in fact generally well-regarded, almost attaining the status of a higher form of intimacy than conjugal love.  Here, Christ’s injunction: “greater love no man can show than to lay down his life for his friend” dignified this understanding of love’s better nature.

Cardinal Reginald Pole

Cardinal Reginald Pole (Sebastiano del Piombo, 1540)

Elena, Cathleen and Kristen: You say that Pole left a large written heritage. Did he express himself on the accusations of being a hidden Lutheran?

John Murphy: He does not debate the matter quite in those terms. The accusation of Lutheranism rested rather on how the first big question of the Reformation emerged into the public sphere – the question Luther raised of how Christians are saved by Christ’s death and resurrection. Luther’s answer to this question was the doctrine of Justification by Faith alone –  alone being essentially the novelty that was later accepted as the “protestant” position. This rejected the notion that good works by the individual were meritorious in any way. This not only attacked the theology behind Indulgences but the theology behind what had long been considered the greatest of good works – the Mass itself. However, other humanist reformers were also reflecting on what St Paul had meant in his Epistles (Romans and Galatians). It was a question of wider scholarly interest and Cardinal Contarini (Pole’s patron), for example, saw both the Catholic tradition and Luther’s position as more fluid and thus more as a difference in kind, one that might be bridged by a form of words acceptable to both sides. If that was ever really possible, events made it an impossible dream whose time went as quickly as it came. By the time Pole wrote his will, in 1558, there is no longer any ambiguity and it is clear that Pole accepted both the notion of Purgatory and the efficacy of Masses for the Dead. Both are essentially totems of the idea that good works are efficacious in themselves, as asserted in the Epistle of St James, although their efficacy is ultimately entwined with the Justification of humankind bought by the ultimate sacrifice of Christ’s death on the cross. The fact that Pole’s final testament and will commissioned priests to pray for his soul demonstrates his total rejection of Luther’s position and ultimately his own doctrinal orthodoxy.     

Elena, Cathleen and Kristen: You mention that Pole’s elevation to the Sacred College in 1536 was clearly an act of provocation to King Henry VIII. Did Pole’s family situation influence his career in Rome? In other words, did their fall from grace in England trigger Pole’s success abroad?

John Murphy: Pole was prominent in the world of sixteenth century nobility because of his family –  he was himself a (Yorkist) prince of the blood. That gave him an entrée to courts of Europe in his own person – it is the sort of social status often played with in Shakespeare. Thus, Pole’s elevation to the Sacred College in an important sense only confirmed his natural pedigree whereas with a Wolsey it bestowed a pedigree.

Pole’s rapid promotion and later prominence reflected his own gifts of scholarship and acuity as much as his birth. This is in part what makes him so special in the history of the sixteenth century. He was already a cardinal before his family fell and their fall was linked to the first great crisis of the English reformation – the Pilgrimage of Grace. Here, given what happened to More and Fisher, Pole must have understood that his willing part as papal legate to Francis I and Charles V against Henry VIII immediately endangered the lives of his family. From our perspective it would seem obvious there would be no limits to the extent of Henry VIII’s revenge. Pole, however, was not equipped with our hindsight and he may still have clung to his own delusions about how far Henry would go; and perhaps he believed the king’s previous affection for his mother, Margaret Pole, would protect her. If Pole had owned such hopes they were to be disappointed.

Whether as a consequence Pole was driven to apply himself to his spiritual endeavours cannot be asserted from any single piece of documentary evidence. What history can observe is that the most productive phase of his career follows the catastrophe his family suffered in England.

Pope Paul III by Titian, ca.1543

Pope Paul III, who appointed Pole cardinal in 1536 (Titian, ca.1543)

Elena, Cathleen and Kristen: You say that Pole might not have anticipated the extent of Henry’s retribution against his family. Pole’s biography by  Ludovico Beccadelli states that Pole allegedly thanked God for making him the son of a martyr. Was this perhaps an attempt to deal with his hidden guilt about putting his family in constant danger by criticizing Henry so openly from afar?

John Murphy: We speculate to accumulate and I am in danger of speculating too much. I think we can say that it was not until the second half of the sixteenth century that the resistance of the Henrician martyrs became such unequivocal heroic emblems of Catholic identity. Those closest to the martyrs – family and affinity – from the moment of their deaths certainly regarded them as heroic martyrs. Therefore, Pole would have believed his mother’s execution was in the same noble lineage as those of John Fisher and Thomas More. I conjecture that one of the reasons Pole so often reexamines all the events leading to his breach with Henry in his subsequent correspondence must partly have been shaped by the consequences for his family of his decisions to contest the king’s Supremacy – consequences which Pole had to live with for the rest of his life. Any man of conscience would inevitably ask himself over and over if there was another, safer way to have pursued his course.

Elena, Cathleen and Kristen: Pole sometimes appears as a rather ambiguous character, being self-assured, calculatingly diplomatic and ambitious at one moment, true to his convictions, humble and even insecure in the next. How do you explain these inconsistencies and what difficulties do subjective sources on Pole pose – including his own writings – to making an astute assessment of his character?

John Murphy: Character is a tapestry. Every biographer pulls at the handful of threads he or she believes to be important. We are none of us wholly consistent and throughout most of our lives we all demonstrate the remarkable human ability to happily live with our own contradictory selves. Differing characteristics often come to the fore in different situations. Just as Pole acquired the language and forensic skills of a humanist intellectual in Padua, so, after 1537 as cardinal he certainly acquired the diplomat’s way of overlooking inconvenient facts and working only with the convenient ones. This was a skill set most legates a latere needed.  Personally, Pole could certainly be prickly, aloof, grand perhaps – even to the extent of being slightly pompous – but he could also be suave and persuasive, kind, thoughtful and even self-deprecating. He was most relaxed with a small coterie of trusted intimates. This however is a sign more of awkwardness, born of shyness and a matter of how his princely class behaved in this age rather than a sign of anything more sinister or repressed.

 Pole had the flare to see the need for a spiritual awakening in the church that spoke to the sensibilities of his time; he had the “nous” to understand the elements such a reinvigoration of the mission of the Western Church might contain. He also had the skill to conceive a plan for a thoroughgoing reform of the English church but he lacked the time to deliver on the latter and perhaps even the administrative aptness to make it happen. Unlike many of his age, he has left us with a wide-ranging correspondence and literary works of varied character.

 At the day’s end, I think he is less ambiguous than scholars have thought him – partly because they have often seen him through the prism of their own prejudices and these have been often informed by a confessional viewpoint. The real Pole is complicated, and his positions evolved with the events of the Reformation in the first fifty years of the sixteenth century.  Pole’s problem – as for all the Catholic Reformers of that time – was the fact that their program of spiritual renewal was partly hijacked by Luther and the later diaspora of ideas of the other emergent protestant churches.

The project of Catholic Reform for spiritual enlightenment bore fruit less in its own time than in the second half of the sixteenth century but by then Christendom was irretrievably divided and the unity of the Western Church was already lost.

Possibly Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

Portrait of an unknown woman traditionally thought to be Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury                                   (artist unknown)

Elena, Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you so much for you time! What is your next project?

I have been looking at the Chapel Royal in the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I and how it was used to change the direction of the Reformation.

 History has long discounted Edward VI and Mary I as no more than interludes between the mythic reigns of Great Harry and Good Queen Bess. Therefore, my next big project is a daring reconsideration of the political and religious history of the central decades of the Tudor period –  c. 1546 to 1562 –  offering a perspective that challenges presuppositions about how Minority Government worked in Edward VI’s reign; and how well prepared a monarch Mary I really was; and why it is, History has found it difficult to tell the real story of their two reigns. In retelling that story many questions will need to be re-asked about Elizabeth and her long reign; and the real inheritance she left the Stuart kings.