Author Archives: CSarti

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

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


Covers of all ten issues of the last five years

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Let’s talk about Royal Studies! (Video)

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

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

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

Kristen Geaman and Cathleen Sarti, IMC Leeds 2019

Here are some of the questions we discussed:

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

What do you enjoy most about the network?

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

What are you curious about?

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

Kings & Queens 8 – Interview with Cinzia Recca

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with Brendan Cook and Jennifer Mara DeSilva

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 2019 Book of the Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with Stephen Lucey

Dr. Stephen Lucey is a professor of art history at Keene State College (New Hampshire, US), and teaches premodern as well as non-Western art history. His research focuses on the medieval Mediterranean world. His recent article in the Royal Studies Journal The Royal Chapel at Pyrga: Art, Agency, and Appropriation in Fourteenth Century Cyprus is an example of this.

RSJ Blog: Thank you for giving us this interview. In your article for the Royal Studies Journal, you write about the royal chapel at Pyrga on Cyprus – an architectural relic from the Lusignan rule over the island (1192-1474). Can you please introduce us (and our readers) to the problem connected with the dating of this chapel?

Stephen: I was first introduced to the chapel in a seminar at Princeton many years ago. At that time, there was very little bibliography associated with the monument and most was quite outdated. So too, I had only limited access to photographs, so it was difficult to get a sense of the fresco program as a whole. I slogged through writing a research paper upholding the 1421 date that was based on a now missing foundation inscription (recorded by a single source in the late nineteenth century) and “authoritative” stylistic studies that framed the chapel’s decoration as a “outsider” unrelated to better known and earlier examples of Cypriot painting.

Still, it was clear to me back then that there was a funerary context involved (see my argument in the article), but it was (is!) difficult to connect that with the death of Queen Charlotte de Bourbon (1388-1421/2). Though the date of her death might seem to support a connection, she is shown very much alive in the frescoes on the east wall. The dating was only one of the many unsatisfying “facts” about the chapel that appeared in the literature (and continued to be perpetrated for years to come). I am happy that I remained both vexed and tenacious – it has certainly been a long road but worth the endeavor.

RSJ Blog: So, even as a student, something about the historiographical work on this chapel struck you as somehow wrong! What struck us as most peculiar was how the mis-dating of the chapel to the early fifteenth century resulted in a completely different interpretation and assessment of the chapel’s art historical “worth” than the dating to the mid-fourteenth century. This also shows in many ways how subjective – despite all attempts otherwise – our interpretations can be, and the problem of objective judgement. Could you please expand a bit on this historiographical debate, and its meaning?

Stephen: I wouldn’t necessarily characterize it as an issue of art historical worth (for me at least) so much as affording it a meaningful context that can be supported by significant evidence – evidence that was simply lacking for the 1421 dating. So little artistic comparanda survives from early fifteenth-century Cyprus, and what there is is quite different in terms of artistic style. Scholarly interest in the chapel simply langoured until Jens Wollesen’s monograph of 2010 (see bibliography). He was the first to question the status quo. I attribute much of the apathy towards Pyrga to its Latin context – the key scholars working in Cyprus in the 1990s and 2000s were chiefly Byzantinists – and Wollesen was not of that ilk. So too, Pyrga’s ruinous state and the miserable assessment of its artistic merits were off putting – do recall that it is not part of the UNESCO set of Cypriot cultural heritage monuments.

It was a few years after the Princeton seminar that I was able to visit Cyprus and see the chapel firsthand. My immediate impression was that Pyrga’s frescoes were not at all as had been described though they are quite distressed. I have often felt that in art history it is the reading of style that can be the most subjective and misleading. So-called authoritative critiques of Pyrga’s frescoes began to seem both hyperbolic and dismissive. Even then, I was struck by how closely related the dominant style of Pyrga’s frescoes were to the great and earlier “warhorses” of Cypriot mural art – the churches at Asinou and Pelendri. Again, it took Wollesen’s work on style some years later to convince me that Pyrga was worth looking at yet again – and a number of years and numerous visits to familiarize myself with the artistic heritage of the island.

RSJ Blog: So, in a way, both the experience of your student-self that something didn’t really add up as well as the hands-on experience in Cyprus were essential for pushing this research forward, and to reach new insights. As an art historian, is it your experience that it is often the opportunity to see artworks “live” in their context that brings forth more questions and answers?

Stephen: There is no question that one must experience the actual object/monument in order to do serious research. As a teacher of global art, I am also impelled to travel and see artworks firsthand. Only then am I able to “recreate” through images (still and moving) and speech a vicarious experience for my students (with the hope that one day they too will seek to explore the breadth of human aesthetic achievement). Indeed, I am off to Peru this summer to garner “fresh” material for my “Indigenous America” lectures in my introductory art history course.


Stephen Lucey gathering material for research and teaching – it begs no question where he is this time 🙂

Back to the question at hand… I would also attribute my ability to reassess the Pyrga material to a growing bibliography on medieval Cyprus – in many ways the questions I was asking of Pyrga and Latin patronage were becoming au courant in the literature. And while I may be a scholar of the medieval Mediterranean, my “focus” is pre-second millenium CE. Still, I believe that my research on the early medieval church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome was a key factor in my interest in Cyprus. SMA’s fresco decoration is also in a poor state of preservation, and both the art and its audience bespeak a blending of Roman and Byzantine traditions.

RSJ Blog: What do the frescoes of the chapel, and the architecture of the chapel itself show us about Cyprus’ history?

Stephen: I think the chief lesson of the Pyrga chapel lies within the consideration of modes of “colonial” cultural appropriation as it applies to the late Middle Ages in the eastern Mediterranean. Early modern parallels (buzzword “colonial”) are difficult to sustain given the complexities of the history of the period and the cultures involved. Still, and beyond a doubt, the Lusignan court culture of Cyprus was acquisitive, varied in taste, but nonetheless very much aware of the import of its choices. I believe that the example of Pyrga presents some of the best information we have in that regard. Given a pan-Cypriot problem (plague), the rulers invoke both their own Latin Christianity and its ritual forms in conjunction with the intercessory power of indigenous, and ancient, prophylaxis and its visual manifestations à la maniera Cypria. We, or the social historians, still need to unpack how this can/cannot be framed in a larger “colonial” milieu of Crusader culture.

RSJ Blog: It is always great to end our interviews with a call to arms for more research! And in this case, there really seems to be much done in terms of de-constructing and re-constructing based on your new insights! Thank you for introducing us to some more of your research! As a final question, what are your new projects?

Stephen: For me, it’s back to early medieval Rome and a consideration of narrative cycles and their import for ritual activity: an invited chapter in Anne Heath and Gillian Elliott, eds. Art, Architecture, and the Moving Viewer: Unfolding Narratives ca. 300-1500 (Art and Material Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Europe Series) Leiden: Brill, forthcoming.

RSJ Blog: This does sound exciting, although quite a bit different than what you did in Cyprus. I really like how you also include the broader context and framing into your work. Good luck with early medieval Rome, and we are looking forward to reading it!

 

 

Book of the Month: Queenship and Power-Series

This month, we’re celebrating an incredible book series in our feature “Book of the Month”: The book series Queenship and Power (Palgrave Macmillan) celebrates its 10th birthday this year!

Bildergebnis für free celebration images

Time to look a bit deeper into the series, and commemorate the books and research. The Royal Studies Journal Blog was lucky enough to get the chance for a chat with Carole Levin and Charles Beem, the editors of the series.

RSJ Blog: Thanks Carole and Charles for giving us the chance for some discussion of your book series. And congrats for your 10th anniversary! Already 56 books are published – that is amazing, and really brought research on queens and queenship forward. Could you please start by telling us a bit more about the time 10 years ago? How did you come up with the idea, and what were your first experiences?

Carole: The idea for the series was mine and I knew that for something like what I envisioned, I was to work collaboratively. I had read The Lionness Roared for Palgrave and thought it was wonderful and when I met Charles I knew he was the one with whom I wanted to co-edit the series. It was a brilliant decision. Working with Charles has been just wonderful and the series has been more than I could have imagined at the time.

Charles:  I was thrilled to have been asked to do this series with such a distinguished scholar as Carole, whose work I had long admired.  The series proposal itself was the first of many collaboration between us as we conceptualized the mission and scope of the series.  The project had a longer gestation with Carole, who knew so many junior scholars getting ready to publish their first books.  I really had no expectations, and I do not think either of us had any inkling of how successful the series would be.  One lucky break was the ability to work with our first acquisition editor, Christopher Chappell, for over five years, which allowed us to get a feel for working with the editorial and production staff at Palgrave.

Shelfie No. 1 – starting of slowly (full disclosure: this is Cathleen’s collection)

RSJ Blog: Can you tell us a bit more about the books published in the series? I also noted that a book from 2003 – so 15 years ago – is actually listed as part of the series. What is up with Carole’s, Debra Barrett-Graves‘, and Jo Eldridge Carney’s book on High and Mighty Queens of Early Modern England?

Carole: Well, obviously I had been working on queens for a long time before the series – why I had the idea for the series – so our editor at Palgrave suggested that when the book came out in paperback it be part of our series. I was delighted to have it included.

Charles: Palgrave had a few titles in their catalogue that had been published in hardback that were perfect for the series, which also included Sharon Jansen’s The monstrous Regiment of Women. So we acquired these and issued them in the series as trade paperbacks, to much success I might add.   The Lioness Roared also, which was first published in 2006, was reissued in paper as the first title in the series. 

RSJ Blog: Charles, The Lioness Roared, the first „official“ book of the series was your monograph on the British queens throughout the centuries. In addition to inspiring much research going on right now, it is also a particularly longue durée study. How did you treat the challenges of this? Also, Carole and Charles, how was your experience with Charles as author and book series editor?

Charles:  My dissertation advisors tried very strongly to talk me out of this project.  As an M.A, student, I wrote a history of English boy kings for my thesis, and was already intrigued by the possibilities of the long durée approach.  The big challenge for me was mastering a number of historiographies, a process which greatly aided me as an instructor of British history.

Carole: The book had been accepted for publication before the series so it was great to have it also start off the series. Charles had since done a number of other books for the series and I have always been so pleased to have him do so as his writing and editing are exemplary.


Getting more serious with queenship studies with Shelfie No. 2

RSJ Blog: While the book series has a focus on English, or British, queens and queenship, and especially the great Elizabeth I has been covered intensely, e.g. her writing, her Italian and foreign letters, her death and her life, her foreign relations, and – the newest – Elizabeth seen through French Valois eyes, the book series covers also lots of other European and some non-European queens. Was this something you pushed for, and encouraged scholars to look into it, or more of the other way round?

Carole: When I first thought of the series I wanted it to cover as widely as possible both chronology and geographic range. And as an Elizabeth I scholar I am delighted with the great works we have published that have had to do with her, I am equally thrilled by the range we do have in the series and would love to have even more. So yes, we are encouraging scholars to do excellent work in all fields of queenship studies.

Charles: From the first, we conceptualized this series as global in perspective, although we anticipated that scholars of English and European queenship would be drawn to the series, which is in fact what happened.  I would love to be able to publish works on Asiatic and African queens, as well as queens of the ancient and classical world.


And Shelfie No. 3  proves that you might need more than one shelf for the series!

RSJ Blog: What I really enjoy about the book series is the mixture between young scholars just starting out, and established voices adding to this research field. Can you tell us a bit more about how you approach prospective authors and editors?

Carole: I really love this about the series also! So Charles and I both talk to many scholars at conferences and really encourage young scholars to work with us so we can help them produce really fine work. And we are also so proud of the major scholars in the field who publish with us.

Charles: Carole has an enviable network of scholars that literally stretches around the globe, and wherever she is, she always has time for a pitch.  I have endeavored to follow in her footsteps, making time at conferences to chat with graduate students.  Many of the conversations Carole and I have had over the years with graduate students and junior scholars were the catalyst for many books published in our series.


Shelfie No. 4: if the books don’t even fit in a picture anymore, it can only be one
queenship scholar whose collection is shown here…
(excluding the collections of Carole and Charles)

RSJ Blog: One last question: what are your plans for the future? Especially regarding the book series, but also your other projects?

Carole: Well, Charles and I are definitely planning to continue publishing a range of great projects in the series. And we are both continuing our various scholarly projects that deal with queenship.  I am doing some projects on Queen Elizabeth and Boudicca – an essay on the topic is forthcoming in Estelle Paranque’s collection Remembering Queens and Kings. I am continuing to work on my creative projects as well and so is Charles.

Charles: I am wrapping up revision for my next book Queenship in Early Modern Europe.  I also have an essay on royal minorities in an upcoming edited volume on queenship and Game of Thrones, to be published late in 2019.  Also next year  I will begin the process of looking for scholars to contribute to a volume on ancient and classical queenship.

RSJ Blog: These are great news! Especially, since we can now hope to get more performances on Kings & Queens conferences like 2018 in Winchester! And everybody reading this, and working either on African or Asian queens, or ancient and classical queenship: you know who to contact!

If you admired the shelfies of diverse royal studies network members of their books from the series, and think, you also want to add to this visual celebration: send us your shelfies with the books from the queenship and power series (no, library books don’t count; only the ones you really own)