Category Archives: Announcements
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!
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!
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!
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.
Dr Catriona Murray is a historian of early modern British visual and material culture from the University of Edinburgh. Her first monograph, Imaging Stuart Family Politics: Dynastic Crisis and Continuity, focuses on familial propaganda of the royal Stuarts. Her study has recently won the CCCU Book Prize from the Royal Studies Journal. The team from the Royal Studies Journal Blog got together with her to learn more about this award-winning research, and what is next for Catriona.
Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: First of all, congratulations to you! Your first monograph, and already you’re winning prizes for it! We do hope you celebrated accordingly! Could you please tell our readers a bit about the premises of this study on visual and material propaganda under the Stuarts?
Catriona: Thank you! It really is an honour and I am very grateful to the book prize committee for their consideration. I think I can also confirm that at least one glass of fizz was consumed!
Imaging Stuart Family Politics grew out of my doctoral research and actually began life in response to a single engraving, which I came across in the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive in 2008. Printed in 1703, it displays oval portraits of four Protestant Princes, Edward VI; Henry, Prince of Wales; Henry, Duke of Gloucester; and William, Duke of Gloucester, with a banner proclaiming ‘Wee [sic] Reign in Heaven’. I was intrigued by the idea that, despite their premature deaths, these figures continued to hold some allure decades and even centuries after their loss. As I probed further, I discovered a series of reproductive failures and untimely young deaths which blighted the Stuart line. Despite this, I also unearthed a wealth of visual material which indicated the importance attached to these lost dynastic hopes. I have always been interested in history’s ‘what ifs’ and the tensions between representation and reality so part of the drive behind the project was to retrieve the reputations of those forgotten Stuarts.
Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: As you said, these members of the royal Stuarts were mostly forgotten, and – honestly – we don’t know much about them either. Could you therefore please give some brief background for the uninitiated about Henry (son of James VI/I), Henry of Gloucester (son of Charles I), James of Cambridge (son of James II), and William of Gloucester (son of Princess, later Queen, Anne)? Did the representation of these later-born or early deceased children differ in any way to the heirs apparent?
Catriona: Most importantly, all of the princes you mention were Protestant and the impacts of their deaths often became more pronounced as dissatisfaction with their successors developed. Henry, Duke of Gloucester, for example, died when he was twenty-one, just as the Stuarts were returning to power with the Restoration. Although, he was widely mourned at the time, it was not until several decades later, with increased concerns about the politics and religion of his brothers Charles II and James, Duke of York, that he was re-framed as a lost leader, a figure of vanished hope. Similarly, James, Duke of Cambridge, died when he was only three years old and yet some twenty years later his image still held resonance. Following the succession of his Catholic father, James II, and the failed rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth, Charles II’s illegitimate but Protestant son, a portrait of the long dead prince was commissioned by his sister, the future Mary II. Willem Wissing’s painting of the little Duke (the cover image of Catriona’s book) highlighted the extended absence of a Protestant male heir, presenting Mary as Britain’s next best hope. In life, representations of these princes were designed to encourage loyalty to the crown but, as time passed, they also assumed meanings beyond royal control. Their afterlives would prove controversial.
Adriaen Hanneman, Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1653), oil on canvas, 104.8 x 87cm, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: In the case of James, Duke of Cambridge, it was his sister Mary who used his image. Most of the other heirs were also quite young, and it seems striking that they are not portrayed in the family context. For example, it seems William of Gloucester was often represented without his mother, Princess Anne. During his life, was he “more important” than her?
Catriona: It is a little more complicated than that. Actually, for reasons of gender, it was unusual for English male heirs to be portrayed with their mothers so the images of Anne and William together which do exist actually reflect their combined significance to the Stuart succession. Certainly, William’s birth was a great boost to Anne’s position after the Glorious Revolution and her motherhood became a crucial part of her public image even after her son’s death. In turn, Anne’s part in the Revolution and her self-proclaimed Englishness were important for William’s portrayal. Together they represented a bright future for the Protestant Stuart line.
After Willem van de Passe, The Triumph of King James and his August Progeny (third state, c.1660), engraving, 32 x 38cm. 283000, Biographical History of England, extra-illustrated by Richard Bull, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California
Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: Following on from this, when it became apparent that the dynasty would pass on through the female line rather than the male line, the Stuart heirs like Mary of Orange or Sophia of Hanover were still pictured in their more traditional roles opposite men – as daughter, as consort or as mother. Are there any depictions of them in a more martial role or have they been associated with more manly and vigorous attributes? If not, why?
Catriona: Not really. There is a lost portrait of the sixteen-year-old Mary as Minerva but, generally, her depiction conforms to tradition, presenting her with reference to the men in her life. Similarly, Sophia is portrayed as a matriarch, the founder of a long line of future kings. The representation of Protestant piety is also central to both women’s public images. Given their rather conventional lives as royal women, this is not really surprising. Both Mary and Sophia were political pawns in the international marriage market and, upon their entry into wedlock, were supposed to secure the line and produce offspring. As heir to the throne, their representations continued to reflect those gendered expectations. This was an age when artists and patrons were predominantly male. Even images of Elizabeth I as heir subscribed to the conventions of female portraiture. Women’s agency and its portrayal had to be negotiated carefully.
Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: In your book you are saying that “the fine arts have often been viewed in isolation – both from popular and material culture and from contemporary political, religious and intellectual developments.” Yet, they are so interconnected. What do you think is the reason behind that separation?
Catriona: Firstly, study of the art of seventeenth-century Britain remains an emerging field and some of its most important scholarly contributions are now decades old. As a result, reassessments of the material and its literature have stalled. A traditional focus on connoisseurship, form and technique has prevailed until recently. Indeed, it has taken historians, such as Malcolm Smuts and Kevin Sharpe, to forge ahead and re-present the art history of early modern Britain as an interconnected cultural history. We need to value the – sometimes idiosyncratic – art of the seventeenth century as much for the stories it can tell as for its visual qualities. Steadily, historians and art historians are embracing this approach and producing works which demonstrate the pervasiveness of the visual as a complex social and political language during this time.
Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: So, after already winning a prize for your very first monograph – what can we expect next from you? Are you further working in the interdisciplinary field connecting art history and history?
Catriona: I am just beginning to get my teeth into a new monograph project which will explore the origins and development of public sculpture as an art of political communication in early modern Britain. Under the Stuart dynasty, monuments played a pivotal role in the negotiation of authority. The imposition of a royal sculptural presence, in strategically-selected urban locations, articulated the reach of royal dominion. In turn, though, sculptures became physical sites for public interventions, which both supported and contested Stuart government. Covering portrait busts, public statuary and tomb monuments, as well as temporary festival sculpture and ceremonial effigies, I hope this project will expose the complex processes through which the Stuart monumental image was both fashioned and dismantled, while exploring visual languages of power which are still contested today.
Arnold Quellin, James VI and I, 1686, lead, Glamis Castle, Glamis, Angus
Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: We wish you the best for this new, exciting research project. Thank you for taking the time to show us this fascinating aspect of the Stuarts!
The King, the Cardinal-Legate, and the Field of Cloth of Gold
Glenn Richardson is Professor of Early Modern History at St. Mary’s University, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and an Honorary Fellow of the Historical Association. He specializes in the history of Tudor England and its political and cultural relations with Renaissance Europe. He has published extensively on the topic and is currently working on a biography of Cardinal Wolsey. We caught up with him to discuss his article for the Royal Studies Journal, “The King, the Cardinal-Legate and the Field of Cloth of Gold” in the special issue on Renaissance Cardinals which he edited.
RSJ Blog: Good day Prof. Richardson and thank you for taking some time to do this interview!
You have written a very interesting article on one of the most fascinating characters of Tudor England. Thomas Wolsey came from a common family, and advanced to the second-highest position in the kingdom by his clerical career. Was this still a common occurrence in the early modern period, or was Wolsey indeed a huge exception? Was the promotion of “new men” perhaps a characteristic of the Tudor era, given the political background of the War of the Roses, the new dynasty and the lack of trust for old families?
Glenn: The early years of Henry VIII up to the period with the break with Rome were still very much dominated by the clerical estate. Many of the king’s leading counsellors and opinion-formers were senior clerics, like Fox, Warham, and Ruthall who (unlike many of their French or Spanish or German counterparts) were from gentry or commoner backgrounds. It was into this clerical establishment that Wolsey himself was first drawn through the patronage of Fox. His background was therefore not perhaps as exceptional as might first be thought, but his meteoric and stratospheric rise certainly was. The first two Tudor kings did directly or indirectly, bring into royal service numbers of ‘new men’ with backgrounds in law and the emerging humanities rather than theology and church administration, based on their competence and capacity for work – and Wolsey was certainly one of those.
RSJ Blog: And Wolsey had indeed done the king many services but it seems that Henry’s desired annulment of his first marriage became the cardinal’s Achilles heel. He appears ambitious but also very calculating, a man who knew well what and whom he was dealing with. Would you say that it was basically an unfortunate accumulation of circumstances that brought him down or did he overreach himself in the eyes of Henry VIII?
Glenn: It is true that Wolsey had made his entire career by giving the king what he wanted. He was able to give Henry a high international profile by means other than warfare for a long time but that tied his fortunes very tightly to the uncertain world of European politics. Had the Sack of Rome by Charles V’s rebellious troops in April-May 1527 not happened, it is possible that Pope Clement VII might have granted Henry the annulment of his marriage that he sought, but dependent as he was on the protection of Charles for his own and Florentine family’s interests, Clement was not going to do anything to bite the hand that might yet feed him – whatever the theological arguments for annulment Henry mounted. Wolsey was quite conventional, if imaginative, in his thinking and made strenuous efforts to secure his aim through all kinds of channels and suggested ways forward but, yes, an accumulation of adverse circumstances prevented him from doing all he might have done to achieve his aim. The failure of the Blackfriars’ legatine court and the signing at the same time of the Peace of Ladies between Charles V and Francis I, left Henry without the annulment he had sought and isolated in Europe. It finally undermined his confidence in Wolsey.
RSJ Blog: You argue convincingly that Wolsey’s loyalty lay with the king’s interests much more than with the church’s, but how were those loyalties perceived towards the end of his career and afterwards? Was he perhaps even accused of being a papal spy and was his deposition partly a statement to the pope?
Glenn Richardson: Wolsey was never in favour of the king’s divorce, a fact which he asked Henry to acknowledge publicly at the Blackfriars’ trial. This was in answer to allegations that he had somehow sought to bring a divorce about. In 1529, Wolsey was caught between a king in whose interests he had largely run the Church in England (through his legatine powers), and the papacy that had granted him those powers but for whom he had in fact done comparatively little. He fell only because he could not, for once, give the king all that he wanted. I don’t think there was any suggestion that Wolsey was acting as the pope’s ‘agent’ in preventing the legatine court arriving at a decision favourable to Henry (although his fellow legate Campeggio almost certainly was). Subsequently, as part of the posthumous vilification of him by the chronicler Edward Hall and others, Wolsey was portrayed as both a papal dogsbody, and a man with an overweening ambition for the papal crown himself. Neither allegation can really be substantiated.
RSJ Blog: How then, was Wolsey perceived in Vatican City and how were the events you described in your article received there?
Glenn Richardson: The events which led to the creation of the Treaty of Universal Peace in 1518 and the Field of Cloth of Gold two years later were well reported and understood in Rome. Leo X had papal legates in England and France and the German lands for the negotiation of what he had intended as a truce between Christian princes and which Wolsey converted into an international non-aggression pact apparently sponsored by Henry but organized entirely by himself. They reported back to Leo regularly. There were French, Imperial and Venetian ambassadors at the English court, and in Rome, who (for their own varied interests) kept the pope well informed about Wolsey’s status and reputation in England and he was perceived rightly, if regretfully, as the key to Henry himself. Wolsey was seen as ambitious for England, pompous and difficult to deal with but impossible to ignore – so a mix of threats and inducements of various kinds were offered. The key to Wolsey in turn, was his desire for permanent legatine status in England. This, Leo was reluctant to give because he had no confidence that such an appointment would make Wolsey work more for him than for his king. He was right to be cautious.
RSJ Blog: So the pope was indeed suspicious of Wolsey. At the same time he could not openly act against the peace alliances because it would have made him look hypocritical. Did he perhaps try to undermine them in any other way?
Glenn: There was little trust between Leo X and Wolsey and the pope constantly sought to undermine Wolsey’s ‘universal peace’ of 1518, in which he had no more than a walk-on role, by trying to get Henry to ally with Charles V against Francis I of France. Even as Henry and Francis met at the Field, Leo was in effect promising to make Wolsey a legate for life (something Wolsey very much wanted) if he could bring about an anti-French alliance, in order to force Francis to relinquish his hold on Milan. In the end this did come about in 1521, but that was because by then Wolsey and Henry had finally recognized that for all the talk of Henry’s being the ‘arbiter’ of Christendom, war between Francis and Charles was all but inevitable and Henry had to be kept on the likely winning side. So Leo got what he wanted (without having to grant Wolsey lifetime legatine status) and was comprehended in the anti-French alliance in November 1521. Even then Wolsey made clear that it would be Henry who determined the timetable for action against France, not Leo.
RSJ Blog: Your analysis show that Wolsey was a very complex character. It must be difficult to do him justice on screen. Yet, Wolsey has been depicted quite a lot recently in historical dramas like “Tudors” and “Wolf Hall”. What do you think of these portrayals?
Glenn: Wolsey is such a difficult character to portray. All the contemporary, or near contemporary, descriptions we have of him emphasize his arrogance, his pomposity and bombast, his cleverness, and his ambitiousness and this has given the lead to actors for generations. Many sources also acknowledge, however, his personal charm and sense of humour (especially for Henry VIII), his eloquence, his capacity for imaginative diplomacy, his considerable administrative competence, a desire to see the kingdom of England well governed, and his enormous appetite for sheer hard work. No recent portrayal captures the balance of these aspects of his personality very well, and having Sam Neil’s Wolsey in The Tudors cut his own throat in despair was just stupid. In my opinion the one portrayal than comes closest to capturing the many varied aspects of Wolsey’s personality and his role as Henry’s chief advisor is Anthony Quale’s subtle and highly nuanced performance in the 1969 film Anne of the Thousand Days.
RSJ Blog: Richard Burton did quite a nice job as well in this movie playing Henry VIII. You also compiled an issue on Cardinals for the Royal Studies Journal. Could you please tell us a bit more about the role of cardinals at courts, in government, and within royal society?
Glenn: I have long found Cardinals an interesting group of people and historical subject in themselves, particularly those of the Renaissance period and after. They, more than other senior clerics, embody the close connections between Church and State, belief and politics in the early-modern period. I suppose my interest in them derives from that in monarchy and royal courts. They were at once enigmatic and impressive creatures, the electors of the popes who were the spiritual monarchs of Christendom, sometimes for the better and very often for the worse. After all one had to be a cardinal to be a pope and the papal Curia was, arguably, Christian Europe’s earliest and most complex royal court. I find their roles at Rome and in their home kingdoms, principalities and republics as agents of the papal rule interesting insofar as they always had to face in two directions, towards the papacy as its chief advisors, agents and representatives, ‘the princes of the Church’, but also back towards their own families as the majority in this period were of noble blood (and not a few from royal lines). Royal authority and papal authority had ideally to work in tandem, at least until the Reformation, and yet frequently did not do so very well at all. No two cardinals resolved the inherent contradictions of their ‘Janus-like’ position in quite the same way. Those kinds of questions and considerations were very much at the heart of the 2015 conference on them as ‘diplomats and patrons’ in relation to monarchs, which prompted the current issue.
RSJ Blog: Thank you very much for answering our questions and giving us a deeper insight into the subject! We are looking forward to reading your biography on Cardinal Wolsey. Apart from the book, what are your next projects?
Glenn: I have a number of things that I have been tinkering away at for some time to complete including an article on an oration delivered by the University of Paris to Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII, when she married Louis XII of France in 1514. It is a very arcane speech but interesting on showing how a French academic can be nice about England (and to an English woman) when he needs to be! I have a study of leading courtiers of Francis I of France les gentilshommes de la chambre du roi, to complete, making comparisons with the courtiers of Henry VIII. I am working on an article about Sir William Fitzwilliam, one of Henry VIII’s leading courtiers and am also pursuing my research into masculinity and kingship in the early-modern period. The 500th anniversary of the Field of Cloth of Gold is coming up in 2020 and I am working with the Historic Royal Palaces agency in Britain and several TV production companies on exhibitions and possible collaborations to mark that event.
RSJ Blog: These sound like some ambitious and interesting projects. We wish you good luck with your endeavors!
Readers with a good memory might remember Rocío Martínez López from our earlier interview on her winning the first Essay Prize of the Royal Studies Journal. She is also one of the main organizers of the next Kings & Queens VI Conference at Madrid in September 2017, and will tell us a bit more about what we can expect from the first Kings& Queens Conference in Spain. Please make sure to include #KQ6 on social media, and follow the conference on the same hashtag if you cannot be there!
RSJ Blog: Hi Rocío! Great to have you here again, Rocío, establishing somewhat of a continuity and hopefully showing our readers the people behind the Royal Studies Journal, the Royal Studies Network, and the conference series Kings & Queens. First, the conference is now “on tour” for the third year in a row (before going back home to Winchester next year, and then again going to Sicily). Could you tell us a bit more about how the conference came to Madrid, Spain?
Rocío: Thanks to you, Cathleen and Kristen. The work you do with the blog and other activities for the Royal Studies Network is truly remarkable. Well, regarding your question, I went to the Kings and Queens series’ congresses that were wonderfully organized in Winchester and Lisbon in the past few years, although, unfortunately, I couldn’t be in Clemson for its last edition. I found myself amazed by the concept of Royal Studies when I went to my first congress in Winchester as well as by the depth of the discussions, the variety of topics and the great expertise showed by the researchers that were present there. I thought that Spain and Spanish scholars have much to offer to this field, as there has been a great development of several lines of research linked to the Royal Studies in the last few years, but that their work were not very well known by the English-speaking experts I met in both congresses and that there should be a way to give their work more exposure in an English-speaking, international context. Likewise, I noticed that the Royal Studied Network wasn’t very well known in Spain, where a great deal of people interested in this kind of studies right now might be interested in joining. I really thought that the contact between the Royal Studies Network and its members, and the flourishing Spanish royal scholars would be enormously helpful for both parts, so to host one of the Kings & Queens congresses in Madrid would be a wonderful way to bring them all together. I talked to Ellie Woodacre about this possibility around three years ago and asked her if she had thought about the possibility of bringing the congress to Madrid sometime in the future, and she showed a great enthusiasm for the idea. At first, I just wanted to bring Kings & Queens to Madrid, and I didn’t think I could have been the chosen one to make this wish come true. I really thought they would choose someone with more experience. But Ellie, who has always showed great support for young career scholars, trusted us with this task and the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), has been always wonderfully supportive with this whole project. So, three years and the support of a lot of wonderful people after, Kings & Queens 6 is just a couple of days away!
RSJ Blog: 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 in Madrid this year, e.g. who else is in the organisation committee, or how you divided all the work?
Rocío: Of course. Organizing the congress of this size is always a challenge. At first, we didn’t expect to host so many people and were working with a number of attendants closer to the ones who went to Winchester and Portugal. But we ended up receiving about 170 paper proposals from all over the world! The real preparation began more than a year and half ago when the project was officially presented in the Department of Early Modern History of the UNED, and they gave us not only their blessing, but their whole support. The institutional support given to us from the UNED was outstanding and we are very grateful for it. The number of people who could collaborate with us was a little small and all had their own research and teaching responsibilities, so the organization was quite a challenge. Also, one of our principal concerns was money. A congress this size is an important investment and we needed to know we would be able to back up financially all our promises. We also wanted to try to get some additional funding to help young historians or early career experts without a fixed post to come to Madrid, as to come to this kind of meetings is also very challenging economically for young historians and a lot of great new researchers haven’t been able to travel to big congresses like this one for economic reasons. We wanted to do our best to help and thanks to the UNED and the work of my co-organizer, Antonio José Rodríguez Hernández, we could obtain a grant which gave us the funds to organize the congress. Through the aforementioned grant, the UNED allowed us to offer 42 grants for young historians from around the world, to be able to organize the congress without having to impose a registration fee and to subsidise the outings. Without the UNED’s support, that would have been impossible to achieve. Once the economic part was settled, the real work began. We drafted the Call for Papers and began to receive proposals almost immediately. They were evaluated by two different experts from our Committee linked to the specific discipline of each proposal. Also, we began to work to organize all kinds of things that were needed for the congress, from the organization of the outings to El Escorial and the Prado Museum to contingencies as the reservation of the rooms for the congress, to the preparation of materials and the crafting of materials (just the bio & abstracts document is several hundreds of pages long). At the same time, we have tried to attend questions and petitions of our attendees to the best of our ability. All of this while we also attended to our other obligations in the university which, especially in certain times of the year, are enormously demanding. As none of us were devoted only to the organization of the congress and everyone had their own obligations to deal with, everyone in the committee took responsibility of the things they could do at the time and we are grateful for the help of lots of people. Besides Antonio José and me, the help of Luis Ribot, José Antonio Vigara Zafra, Ellie Woodacre, Julio Arroyo Vozmediano, Cristina Agüero, Ana Echevarría, Diana Carrió, Jitske Jasperse, Maria de la Cruz Carlos Varona, José María Iñurritegui, Marcela Miranda, Sergio Gutiérrez, Anabel del Prado, José Luis Sancho, Almudena Pérez de Tudela, Antonio Rubio Sánchez and many, many more was invaluable. A lot of people showed us support in concrete matters in all this time and we are very grateful to them, too. I especially want to thank Patrimonio Nacional and Museo del Prado, who offered us all the help we requested to organize the outings. And I apologize if I forgot someone!
RSJ Blog: That does sound like we can expect one of the biggest Kings & Queens Conference to date, and thank you for spending so much time on this, and making sure, we will feel welcome!
Another topic: Can you tell us a bit more about the state of research in Royal Studies in Spain? From the outside, it looks like a very central topic with lots of interesting stuff being done on medieval king- and queenship, and of course on the Habsburg studies. Also, how does being a modern monarchy reflect on this field?
Rocío: That is a very interesting question. As I appointed before, the royal studies are flourishing in Spain. I can safely say that the royal studies in Spain are trending right now. In different Spanish universities and research groups, we find great works focused on different aspects of royal studies. For example, in the Department of Early Modern History of the UNED we have some of the leading experts in the study of seventeenth century Europe, like Luis Ribot, Juan Antonio Sánchez Belén, José María Iñurritegui and Antonio José Rodríguez Hernández, who had made great advances in the knowledge and research of this period in the fields of political, military and diplomatic history. This last aspect, as well as others like the representation of power, royal propaganda and the relationship between nobility, royalty and art is also well represented in our Department of History of Art, with experts like the aforementioned José Antonio Vigara, Diana Carrió and young researcher Cristina Agüero. Some of these topics are also present in our Department of Medieval History, to which the member of our organization Ana Echeverría also belongs. In the University Rey Juan Carlos, there is currently a great and very interesting project focused on Royal Sites and its varied functions, composed by experts like José Eloy Hortal, Félix Labrador Arroyo, Koldo Trápaga and Gijs Verstegeen, who are going to present a panel in the congress and they are also going to present the latest developments of the project they are working on aided by the latest technological advances. Also, the Autonoma University is doing a great work in the field, with experts like Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño, who is going to give the closing lecture, and the activities and projects linked to the Instituto Universitario “La Corte en Europa” (IULCE), whose new director, Manuel Rivero Rodríguez, is also going to be with us, as well as other members, like Javier Revilla Canora. In addition, we will have with us experts from the Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) of Spain, like Rubén González Cuerva, who has recently published a book with Brill about court factions in Early Modern Europe’s court which is very promising. And, to connect with your last question, last but not in any way least we have the Complutense University, which is going to be very well represented by several of their leading researchers, like the vice rector David Alonso. From said university, we are going to be able to listen to some remarkable experts in Medieval, History of Art and Early Modern History, but we also count with a very interesting panel focused in Contemporary royal history leaded by Raquel Sánchez. Royal Contemporary History (meaning their study from Isabel II and Alfonso XII’s reigns onwards) as such weren’t a big line of research in Spain until recent years and its study was relatively limited to royal biographies, law and constitutional history and works of political history that, in most cases, weren’t focused on topics related to royal history and this approach was just a little part of a bigger idea, like the works related to the evolution of the Spanish political and constitutional system from Franco’s dictatorship to democracy, for example. But this is slowly changing and we hope that his congress can be a way to show this change. Other Spanish institutions, like the University of Barcelona, of Zaragoza, of Valencia or of Valladolid, amongst others, are also well represented in this congress. To sum up, we have representative of many of the leading research institutions of Spain and we hope our initial intention, which was to give exposure in an international setting to the leading Spanish research institutions and their researchers and forge a successful relationship between said Spanish researchers and the people linked to the Royal Studies Network, will come true.
RSJ Blog: So, in the conference next week: what can we expect? What is planned, and what should we absolutely not miss when visiting Madrid? Also, could you please tell us a bit how you planned panels and breaks, and what you hope this conference achieves?
Rocío: We have a lot of plans for the congress and we hope for the attendees to enjoy it. We hope to go further than the papers themselves, and for it to be a way for scholars of different parts of the world, who seldom have the opportunity to meet, to exchange points of view, information and projects and maybe for it to be the beginning of a lasting relationship between scholars of different institutions, countries and research interest. I would like to highlight three points that we have worked a lot to bring to reality: firstly, for all the attendees to enjoy the possibility of hear papers of great quality from some of the most important and most interesting researchers of the whole world, and for it to become a meeting place for hearing of the most innovative trends followed by different countries and universities, interact with researchers of different backgrounds and interests and exchange ideas, information and even plans for future projects and publications. In the second place, we expect for it to be a way to showcase all the possibilities that Spain has to offer in the field of royal studies, both with the presence in the congress of members of the leading Spanish universities and with the presentation of projects, future publications and collaboration that could spark our attendees’ interests. And, in third place, we also intend for it to be a way for young or early career scholars to present their current work in an international setting. Both the Royal Studies Network and the UNED are institutions who are trying very hard to promote young talents and help gifted young scholars to begin and develop their research careers. We hope for this conference to be a way to help them to thrive in their fields of choosing and meet older, more experience scholar who could assist them in the future, at the same time they reward us with new, exciting views, theories and investigations. All of these will be achieved not only through the panels and sessions given, but also with the other activities we planned for the congress, with two exciting guided visits to the great Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real de El Escorial and the Prado Museum and other activities in the congress, like the presentation of the exciting project about royal sites lead by the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos which uses the latest advance of technology to recreate and study the Spanish Royal Sites, and a meeting with the Royal Studies Journal’s leading members that will talk to those who are interested about their international publication and how they can become members of their staff, amongst other activities. All of this and much more will take place in during the congress, under the umbrella and support of the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED).
RSJ Blog: Thanks for doing this interview! Is there anything you’d like to add?
Rocío: Just that we really hope that all our attendees enjoy the congress and the activities related to it and that we hope it becomes a milestone in the field of royal history. Also, we hope it is the beginning of many projects, publications and collaborations in the future. And, also, to say that all the members of the organization have worked hard and without stop for months to bring this congress to reality, so I hope everybody enjoys it and can forgive any human error we can commit. We are doing our best and we hope we all have a great experience at Kings and Queens 6!
We hope to see you in Madrid – bring sunglasses, comfortable shoes, great ideas, and share with us your experiences under #KQ6!
Imke Polland and Christina Jordan have just organized the successful conference on Realms of Royalty (20/21 April 2017) in Gießen, Germany, which questioned the role of royalty and monarchy in today’s societies. Bringing Royal Studies to the modern day is also part of their on-going doctoral research on Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee as Staged Media Events: A Case Study in the Production of Collective Memories (Christina), and Plurimedial Representations of the British Royal Weddings 2005 and 2011 as Ritual Media Events (Imke). We caught up with them to learn more about the discussion of the conference (see conference report by Max Bergmann here), and their research on modern monarchy.
Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you for doing this interview! To start, could you please tell our readers a bit about the conference, and how it started?
Christina and Imke: Right from the outset of doing research on contemporary monarchies, we noticed a significant lack of scholarly attention to this topic, as most studies dealing with royalty pursue historical research interests. Monarchies post WWII are usually only treated marginally at conferences and there are very few publications dedicated to researching their contemporary representations and standing in society. We think that current monarchies pose special challenges to researchers, which differ from the demands that historical research on monarchies has to face. Their role as post-political institutions and their adaptation to ever-changing media environments turns them into a dynamic and rich object of research, which requires interdisciplinary analytical perspectives. Monarchies offer many starting points for exploring aspects that are of crucial interest to scholarly fields as varied as cultural, media and literary studies as well as sociology, law, political and economic science. The conference’s aim was to further this interdisciplinary dialogue on contemporary monarchies by raising questions such as, how do monarchies adapt to change, reinvent themselves and navigate between past, present and future to ensure the continuity of the institution? What are the possibilities of contemporary monarchies facing the loss of (political) importance, power, space, relevance, and popularity? How are the relevance and the roles of these seemingly anachronistic institutions negotiated? Where does the perpetual interest in monarchies stem from? During the two days of the conference we discussed, among many other topics, the role of contemporary European monarchies in national and transnational contexts, the British monarchy’s post-war public relations strategies, royal representations in (fictional) media products (such as radio broadcasts, TV series, and films) and (re-)appropriations of monarchical symbols in popular cultural contexts such as wrestling, comics, or alternative music.
Cathleen and Kristen: The conference was not only focused on European monarchy but also colonialism, transnationalism, and the global entanglements of royalty, maybe discussed most prominently by Cindy McCreery. Could you tell us a bit more about this? Are modern monarchies by definition more of a global actor?
Christina and Imke: European monarchies have been global actors for a long time. The most prominent and obvious example might be the role of the British or Spanish Crown within their respective Empires. As Cindy McCreery showed at our conference, when discussing ways in which royalty matters to people overseas, monarchy and imperialism are intricately entwined. She argued for a research on monarchies that extends the gaze to the view on royalty from abroad.
With the end of Empires, the role of monarchies has, however, not been diminished. Processes of decolonisation resulted in an increasing mobility of members of the European royal families that still continues today. The royal tours are a striking example of how people and royals interact. These tours work as a stage on which not only the monarch can be displayed and paraded, but they also allow for local responses. A recent example is constituted by the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Germany in July 2017, during which they intended to “reinforce the strong and wide-ranging ties between Britain and Germany”and thus acted as cultural ambassadors – especially in the face of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
Because of the increasing relevance of social media as well as recent celebrations of royal events as global media events, contemporary monarchies are definitely increasingly globally engaged. The global popularity of, especially, the British monarchy goes hand in hand with their high degree of visibility and availability in global consumer culture (only think of various films, documentaries, TV series etc. produced about the British royal family in recent years). At the same time, however, one has to emphasize the ongoing importance of monarchies as national icons.
Cathleen and Kristen: One of the core themes of the conference (and both your theses) is the use of media by royal dynasties which is also one emphasis in medieval and early modern royal studies – do you see any changes compared to the use of media in pre-modern times, or more of a continuity?
Christina and Imke: We are convinced that monarchies undergo processes of change and self-fashioning while at the same emphasising and drawing on their own constancy. The use of media is essential for conveying these (self-)images. Traditional forms of media usage for the distribution of images, e.g. painted portraits or the likeness of the monarch on coins, persist and are complemented by new and digital media uses as monarchies and their public relations offices have to adapt to new media environments. Monarchies always exploit the media, which are both available and popular at the respective time. Although John Plunkett (2003) termed Queen Victoria the first “media monarch”, earlier monarchs can also be viewed as media monarchs. A prime example is Queen Elizabeth I whose portraits were both censored and widely circulated. When celebrity culture developed and the collection of memorabilia became popular in the 19th century, new forms of distributing royal images, e.g. the cartes de visite, emerged. These cartes opened up a whole new way of personal engagement with royal images, as they depicted less formal moments than former portraiture, thus inviting emotional reactions. These kinds of depictions were sold in large numbers and were collected and highly valued by their gatherers.
As Deirdre Gilfedder and Ed Owens mentioned in their conference presentations, in the 1930s and 1940s, radio was a popular medium to address the public, e.g. during war speeches and the inception of the famous Christmas broadcasts. In 1953, the coronation of Elizabeth II was the first royal media event broadcast on TV. The medial omnipresence of monarchies still seems to increase steadily. Nowadays, monarchies permeate people’s lives not only in the (yellow) press and on TV, but they also make use of social media channels and networks – on 24 October 2014, Elizabeth II sent her first Tweet. The British royal family embraces the possibilities offered by new media and actively participates in the digital world via various Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr accounts.
Cathleen and Kristen: Everything to do with royal families, esp. the British one, is today being commercialized. How important is this commercialisation, and does it work only (or foremost) on a national scale, or even in an international market?
Christina and Imke: Commercialisation plays a very important role for contemporary monarchy. When looking at the British monarchy in particular, one can say that the whole institution is ‘managed’ as a global brand that caters to consumer demands and has to be beneficially and strategically placed on the market to be successful. Recent studies (especially Balmer 2011, Otnes/Maclaran 2015) have analysed this brand management and the role that the British monarchy plays in global consumer culture. There has also been an increase in societal pressure for the monarchy to actively and significantly contribute to the British economy. In this sense, former political pressures have yielded to commercial (and media) interests.
Understanding the British monarchy in marketing terms, Pauline Maclaran has suggested, means conceptualising it as a brand complex, involving different brand components, which speak to and potentially enhance the consumer’s (emotional) bonds to the brand. She explained that these different components are the global brand, the human brand, the family brand, the heritage brand, and the luxury brand, which all cater for different consumer demands and, thus, make the royal family brand complex so successful.
The monarchy can be consumed in various ways: There are a great variety of popular cultural products like books, films and TV series. Royal media events and memorabilia produced on the occasion of these events offer forms of interaction and participation. The monarchy also makes available touristic experiences, e.g. by opening state apartments and palaces to visitors. Furthermore, granting royal warrants for products supplied to royal family members is a long-established practice of royal engagement in commercial activities. Several members of the royal family have also created consumer brands, such as Duchy Originals, the organic food brand selling local products established by the Prince of Wales, or companies protecting the personal brand and intellectual property rights of royal family members, like the ones William and Catherine created. The Royal Collection Trust, which manages the royal collections and the opening of the palaces as well as the production of merchandise, is one key company involved in making the monarchy available for consumption. In her lecture, Pauline Maclaran pointed out the interesting paradox of ‘accessible mystique’ which results from the PR efforts of the monarchy. The royal family has to provide previously unavailable levels of access in order to engage in these marketing activities, while at the same time retaining an upmarket appeal and sustaining narratives of the institution’s past and present mystique. Even though the prime market for the consumption of the royal family brand concentrates on the national context, it is important to consider global dimensions, for example concerning tourist experiences and souvenirs or royal media events and memorabilia.
Cathleen and Kristen: What were your impressions of the discussions on the conference? Which new directions in research were emphasized, and how do they fit into the wider field of contemporary history?
Christina and Imke: The conference presentations and discussions showed clearly that the changes monarchies have undergone in the past century and that they are still undergoing are mirrored in changing interests and perspectives of research on these monarchies. Two major aspects were emphasised recurrently in the course of the conference: Firstly, the impact that monarchies have on people’s everyday lives has changed from political decision making to an omnipresence of sovereigns and monarchical topics in popular cultural contexts, ranging from films and TV series to exhibitions of royal dresses and even wrestling. Consequently, these new “realms of royalty” deserve scholarly attention and promise valuable insights beyond historical perspectives. Secondly, the increasing importance of emotional connections between monarchy and the people was highlighted. Ed Owens discussed efforts to redefine the monarchy’s place in the nation and to endear the royals to their subjects by strategic media usage and the formation of a new royal public language throughout WWII. Very recent developments include the propagation of narratives on the side of the monarchy that suggest accessibility and middle-class values and thus serves to enable the people to emotionally connect to members of the institution, e.g. when Princes William and Harry openly discussed their psychological struggles dealing with the early death of their mother in a video available on various online platforms in April 2017.
The most productive aspect of the conference, we find, was the interdisciplinary exchange, which linked diachronic perspectives with synchronic, and national with transnational ones, thus providing new insights on European monarchies as the common object of research. In this way, the conference explored monarchies beyond historical perspectives and succeeded in its endeavour to discuss, evaluate and make sense of the cultural phenomena that contemporary monarchies confront us with. By looking at the present state of monarchies as a space of negotiation, we were able to map out and open up new perspectives and understandings of the domains of royal studies that focus on contemporary transnational interactions.
Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you for these insights into your conference! Now, finally, could you tell us a bit more about your own research, and how royal studies fit into this?
Christina and Imke: We are both doing research on media events of the British monarchy that took place in the new millennium – the latest royal weddings and Elizabeth II’s crown jubilees. Our research continues traditional strands in the study of (modern) monarchies, e.g. by focussing on ceremonial events following David Cannadine’s seminal work on the re-invention of the British monarchy. Central for our research are media-related aspects, such as the analysis of TV broadcasts of the events and the medial prelude and aftermath of the events in the press. We hope to add to existing research on monarchies and answer to a recent surge in royal studies by bringing in new theoretical perspectives, first and foremost from the fields of narratology, cultural memory studies and the study of media events, and by analysing recent developments that have barely been in the focus of scholarly attention so far.
Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you both so much, and good luck with your research!
 Cf. Higson, Andrew. (2016) “From political power to the power of image: contemporary ‘British’ cinema and the nation’s monarchs.” In: Merck, Mandy (ed.). The British monarchy on screen. Manchester University Press, 339-362, here: 360.