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Interview with Carolyn Harris

Canadian Women’s Responses to Royal Tours from the Eighteenth Century to the Present

Dr. Carolyn Harris is a historian, author and royal commentator. She obtained her PhD in history at Queen’s University at Kingston and is currently teaching history at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies.Carolyn is the author of several successful books and articles. Her most recent book is Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting. She is also a prolific guest lecturer and works as a historical consultant, writer, presenter and contributor to television, radio, print and online media. Carolyn is the winner of the first CCCU Book Prize on which occasion we published another interview with her on our blog.

RSJ Blog: Welcome Carolyn and thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview with us.

Carolyn: Thank you, I am delighted to discuss the long and interesting history of Canadian women’s responses to royal tours.

RSJ Blog: You have written a very fascinating article highlighting Canadian woman’s reactions and points of view regarding British royal presence in their country over a period of about 200 years.

In your opinion, how much personal impact did those royal visitors and representatives have on swaying Canadian women’s impressions and views on British Monarchy and rule?

Carolyn: The presence of members of the royal family in Canada, especially for extended periods of residence, contributed to the perception of the monarchy as distinctly Canadian. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (the father of Queen Victoria) gave his name to Prince Edward Island and was one of the first public figures to describe both French and English inhabitants of British North America as Canadians. Princess Louise, along with her husband Lord Lorne was instrumental to the founding of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Her niece Princess Patricia of Connaught became honourary Colonel-in-Chief of the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry. Long before the 1931 Statute of Westminster laid the groundwork for a Canadian Crown that was politically distinct from the British Crown, the Canadian monarchy was already culturally distinct from the British monarchy because of the presence of royalty in Canada for extended periods of residence as well as shorter tours.

For Canadian women, royal tours of Canada were not only rare opportunities to catch a glimpse of members of the royal family but opportunities to express their concerns and seek patronage for philanthropic institutions that benefit women’s health, education and professional development. When the future King William IV visited what is now the province of Newfoundland in the late 18thcentury both men and women brought their grievances to his attention and sought legal redress. When Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise arrived in Canada as vice regal consort in 1878, one of the first requests that she received was to become the patron of the Montreal Ladies’ Educational Association. Louise’s sister-in-law the Duchess of Connaught was the patron of the first solo exhibition by the Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton in 1912.

The association of female members of the royal family withcauses benefiting women continues to the present day. When William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited British Columbia and the Yukon in 2016, their itinerary included a visit to Sheway, an organization that benefits vulnerable mothers in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. The marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, attracted particular attention in Canadian media because Meghan had resided in Toronto for a number of years during her career as an actress and was involved in local charities such as World Vision Canada. The Duchess of Sussex describes herself as a feminist and has a long history of speaking up for women’s equality, which will shape her philanthropic endeavours in Canada and throughout the Commonwealth.

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The engagement photo of Princess Louise and John, Marquess of Lorne and 9th Duke of Argyll

RSJ Blog: Despite the differences between the portrayal of women’s participation in Canada and the USA, the romantic notion is apparent on both sides. Would it be too big a cliché to say that women just liked that aspect very much?

Carolyn: There are distinctive differences between Canadian and American press coverage of royal tours that have remained constant from the 19thcentury to the present day. Royal tours of Canada often prompt discussions of the future of the constitutional monarchy in Canada and the involvement of members of the royal family in Canadian philanthropy and institutions in addition to coverage of royalty as famous people and leaders of fashion. In the United States, however, the celebrity aspect of the royal family’s public image dominates the press coverage. In 1860, when Queen Victoria’s son Albert Edward toured British North America and the United States, there was some acknowledgement of the political significance of King George III’s great-grandson enjoying a successful American tour but the majority of commentary, especially coverage intended for women readers emphasized the fairy tale aspect of the presence of a Prince on American soil, dancing with American women at balls in his honour. American women were encouraged to view the Prince as a romantic figure rather than a political personage.

In his landmark work The English Constitution, Walter Bagehot assumed that the spectacle of royal weddings was of more interest to women than the political role of the constitutional monarch, noting that “The women — one half of the human race at least — care fifty times more for a marriage than a ministry.” Bagehot’s analysis ignores the wider social context for the intense scrutiny by 19thcentury women of royal weddings and other events in the life cycle of the royal family. The wedding of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, the future Edward VII, which Bagehot singled out as a particular focus of women’s’ interest, meant the arrival of Princess Alexandra of Denmark, a young woman who would become the second most prominent female member of the royal family after her wedding. Alexandra’s interests, friendships, background and approach to public engagements, especially at a time when Queen Victoria was living in comparative seclusion as a widow, would influence which charities benefiting women would receive royal patronage and which women would be appointed to the royal household. The new Princess of Wales was not simply being welcomed as a fashionable young princess but as one of the most prominent women in the United Kingdom at a time when roles for women in public life were becoming increasingly circumscribed.

RSJ Blog: You are mentioning that the 1791 Constitutional Act provided an unusual amount of political autonomy for property-owning women. Could you perhaps elaborate on the origin of this Act and why it was later abolished? Did the personal, more conservative views of Queen Victoria have any influence?

Carolyn: Prior to the nineteenth century, there were individual examples of propertied women voting throughout the English-speaking world. These women were generally unmarried women or widows as until the married women’s property acts of the 19thcentury, the property of married women was owned and controlled by their husbands and they therefore did not meet the requirements for the franchise. The position of married women in propertied households differed under the Coutume de Paris, which had formed the basis of the law in New France.  Property was jointly owned by both spouses under the administration of the husband, circumstances that allowed married women in propertied households to be voters in theory if not always in practice. Under the Quebec Act of 1774, French civil law continued to be in force in Lower Canada (modern day Quebec) following the British conquest of New France. Women voted in 15 districts of Lower Canada between 1791 and 1854, when a specific law was passed prohibiting female suffrage in all circumstances. A similar process had occurred under English common law where the rare cases of widows and single women voting were proscribed by law in the 19thcentury. The prohibition of all forms of women’s suffrage at the same time as the expansion of the male franchise provided an impetus for the late 19thand early 20thcentury campaign for women’s suffrage.

Queen Victoria served a role model for women seeking a greater role in public life, including the Canadian suffragist Nellie McClung, but the Queen did not support women’s suffrage. Her daughters were more interested in increased roles for women outside the home. Princess Helena supported the professionalization of nursing as a career for women while Princess Louise encouraged education and vocational training for women of all social backgrounds. Louise’s sister-in-law supported women’s suffrage publicly and Louise met privately with suffragists but did not champion their cause in the public arena out of respect for the views of her mother Queen Victoria.

RSJ Blog: For some, Princess Louise as viceregal consort and daughter of the ruling monarch signified too much royal presence in Canada. What was the reaction of Canadian women to this particular criticism? Did it have any importance at all?

Carolyn: Louise became viceregal consort in 1878, just eleven years after Canadian Confederation at a time when Canada was defining its place in the world in comparison to Britain and the United States. Canadians prided themselves on their loyalty to the monarchy as this was a key political and cultural trait that differentiated them from Americans. Queen Victoria’s birthday was a popular holiday and it remains a statutory holiday and the monarch’s official birthday in Canada today. Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, wrote about how images of Queen Victoria were displayed at home and the Queen was viewed as a role model for young women to emulate. A number of her literary heroines express admiration for royal women. Queen Victoria’s public image emphasized her role as a loving wife then a grieving widow and the mother of nine children. She was frequently photographed in comparatively simple attire, wearing a bonnet instead of a crown, even on grand occasions such as her Golden Jubilee in 1887. This domestic image allowed women from a variety of social backgrounds to view the Queen as a woman with a great deal in common with themselves as well as the sovereign.

Although Queen Victoria was held in high personal regard in Canada and loyalty to the monarchy was a key aspect of Canadian culture during her reign, royalty who visited Canada, especially those who resided there for extended periods of time were expected to behave differently than they did in the United Kingdom. Royalty in Canada were expected to cultivate an approachable manner toward people of a variety of social backgrounds and relax the customary court etiquette. The news that Princess Louise would reside in Canada prompted concerns that Canadians would be expected to wear court dress in her presence or back out of rooms when royalty was present. Louise’s refusal to insist on ceremony in this manner attracted widespread approval in Canada. Like previous viceregal couples, Lord Lorne and Princess Louise were also expected to embrace Canadian pastimes, especially outdoor activities. The couple were praised in the newspapers for taking up skating, curling, tobogganing and sleigh riding in the winter and camping and fishing in the summer.

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Edward, Prince of Wales with two Ojibwe guides, canoe on the Nipigon River during his 1919 royal tour.

RSJ Blog: What was the reaction among Canadian women to Princess Louise’s philanthropic engagements especially concerning her progressive views? Did they generally embrace them or were there any critical voices?

Carolyn: There is circumstantial evidence that Princess Louise received some quiet disapproval from certain members of the English Canadian elite in Canada. There were persistent rumors of feud between the Princess and the Canadian Prime Minister’s wife, Lady Macdonald. Both women were bothered by these rumors and were determined to present a show of unity in public and express their regard for one another. During the term of the previous Governor General, Lord Dufferin, English and French-Canadian high society often socialized separately but Louise, who spoke fluent French, befriended French Canadians and these friendships attracted comment within English Canadian society who expected the Princess to socialize within their own ranks rather than branching out in this manner.

Louise’s philanthropy and views regarding women’s place in society received a variety of responses. In her role as viceregal consort, she was expected to become patron of charities that benefited women. Louise’s encouragement of women pursuing professional careers as artists certainly stood out at a time when art for women was often viewed as a feminine accomplishment rather than a professional endeavor. In her promotion of women’s education, however, some of Louise’s views were considered not progressive enough in certain circles. In her patronage of the Montreal Ladies’ Educational Association, she emphasized the importance of domestic science and vocational training, which disappointed some women who hoped that she would champion higher academic standards in women’s education.

The majority of the criticism concerning Princess Louise’s time as vice regal consort, however, concerned her extended absences from Canada during her husband Lord Lorne’s time in office. Louise was injured in a sleigh accident in 1880, which prevented her attendance at the inaugural Royal Canadian Academy of Arts exhibition, which eventually formed the basis for the National Gallery of Canada. Lorne minimized the extent of Louise’s injuries and so her extended periods of convalescence in Europe and Bermuda attracted widespread speculation. There were rumours that she disliked Canada or that her marriage was in jeopardy. The perception that Louise neglected her duties because of her lengthy absences continues to be the most prominent critique of her time as viceregal consort.

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The Marquess of Lorne, accompanied by Princess Louise, opening the Canadian Parliament in 1879

RSJ Blog: Thank you very much for this deeper insight into your topic. What other projects are you pursuing at the moment? Are you perhaps working on a new book?

Carolyn: I am currently writing articles for a variety of publications including the Historica Canada Canadian Encyclopedia and the BBC History Magazine. Links to my writing are available on my website royalhistorian.com

Regarding my next book project, I am co-editing a forthcoming four volume book series, English Consorts: Power, Influence, Dynasty with Joanna Laynesmith, Danna Messer, Aidan Norrie, and Elena Woodcare as part of the Palgrave Macmillan Queenship and Power series. The English Consorts series aims to provide short, focused, well-researched, and refereed biographies of all of the English consorts since the Conquest.

The Call for Contributors for English Consorts: Power, Influence, Dynastyis available here. 

 

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Interview with Barbara J. Messamore

Barbara J. Messamore holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh and is an associate professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in Canada. She specializes in Canadian political, constitutional and migration history. Barbara is also on the board of directors at the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada at Massey College, University of Toronto. A list of her publications and other projects can be found on her homepage. Read the full article in the Royal Studies Journal.

RSJ Blog: Good day Barbara and thank you for doing this interview with us.

Barbara: Thanks for your interest. It’s my pleasure.

RSJ Blog: You mention that the 1939 Royal Visit to Canada was the first by a ruling Monarch. Could you sum up the national and international circumstances that eventually led to it?

Barbara: Yes, I’d be happy to. Incidentally, it’s a subtle point, but I think it is better to say “reigning—rather than ruling– monarch” in the era I’m describing. The genesis of the 1939 tour seems to have been a 1936 meeting between Edward VIII and Canada’s prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. But after Edward VIII’s abdication and George VI’s accession to the throne, circumstances made a successful tour even more important. There are a few reasons for that. One was directly tied to the institution of the monarchy. It had arguably been damaged by the abdication crisis. A tour could restore the image of the royal family and strengthen Canadian ties to the Commonwealth. And Canada’s position within the Commonwealth had also recently changed with the 1931 Statute of Westminster, as had that of other Dominions. The tour would be a chance to demonstrate that, while Canada was autonomous, the tie to the monarch was still strong. The tour organizers arranged to have the King conspicuously carry out some of the duties of the Crown while in Ottawa, duties that were normally carried out by the governor general, such as giving royal assent to legislation. It was a chance to show that Dominion autonomy did not sever the link to the Crown.

Perhaps paradoxically, given this focus on George VI’s role as King of Canada, an even more important aspect of the tour was its function in bolstering Canada’s tie to Britain. This is the thing that made the tour especially urgent in 1939. There was every reason to believe that war with Germany was on the horizon, and Canadians had given little assurance that they would lend support. Canada’s Mackenzie King had been unwilling to make any commitments at the 1937 Imperial Conference and was deeply sensitive to isolationist sentiments in Canada; Quebec’s opposition to European entanglements was clear, as was that of a new and rising socialist party in Canada, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. The British were mindful of this political pressure on King and, if it could be demonstrated that love for and loyalty to the mother country was strong in Canada, King could be swayed.

RSJ Blog: Are Royal Visits to Canada significant in comparison to visits to other parts of the commonwealth or the dominions?

Barbara: I think the essentialobjective is common to each. How such a tour is going to be received is likely to be a function of the circumstances of the moment. So, for example, the article touches on the fact that the 1964 Canadian tour, coming at a time of resurgent Quebecois nationalism, was fraught with difficulty. Similarly, while there had been a durbar in Delhi in 1911 to mark George V’s coronation, the atmosphere of Indian nationalism in 1937 when George VI came to the throne made the accession contentious, so it was thought better not to risk it.

In the particular context of the 1939 tour, a chance to enhance Canada’s loyalty was especially valuable. Cultivating a better tie with Mackenzie King might pay dividends in case of war and Canada’s prime minister would have a chance to observe that many Canadian subjects felt that sense of loyalty. It would show him that it would be impolitic to turn his back on Britain in their hour of need. Spending time in Quebec was also an important part of the tour for that same reason. The brief visit across the border to the United States was not in itself going to shift American isolationist sentiment, but it certainly provided a vital human connection that gave a face to the British struggle to confront Nazi aggression. And while Roosevelt was faced with an intransigent Congress, he did wish to offer what help he could.

RSJ Blog: And they needed all the help they could get. How would you describe the relation between the legal constitutional position of Canada within the Commonwealth and the representation of said position by Canadian politicians especially towards the Royal Family?

Barbara: The 1931 Statute of Westminster made Canada’s role in the Commonwealth with respect to the Crown more explicit, but I’ll readily concede that it’s far from simple. It had gradually evolved that the dominions had autonomy in foreign as well as domestic matters, and in reality, the 1926 Balfour Report and the 1931 Statute of Westminster only recognized that evolved state of things. In both the UK and the dominions, it was well understood that the Crown would act on the advice of responsible ministers—hence, my preference for the term “reign” over “rule.” There were—and are—still reserve powers that might be exercised by the Crown in emergency situations, for example, if a head of government attempts to hang on to power when faced with a loss of Parliament’s confidence. Because Mackenzie King had had a famous clash with a previous governor general, Lord Byng, in 1926, he was acutely sensitive about the role of the Crown and about any potential encroachment on Canada’s self-governing status. By this time, though, it had been long established that the governor general was not dictated to by British authorities; he carried out his duties entirely with reference to Canada. Mackenzie King had an unfounded suspicion that British partiality to the Conservative party had informed the governor general’s actions in 1926. But Mackenzie King also had a kind of reverence for the Crown and was deeply drawn to the royal family. The challenge for George VI was to demonstrate that he was not in Canada as the “British” monarch, but as king of Canada, one of his most important dominions, and that there was no wish to curtail Canada’s autonomy. I think this is why the symbolic gesture of him carrying out the sovereign’s duties in Ottawa, using Canada’s royal seal, was so important. He was acting, not as the British king visiting Canada, but as the king of Canada. Having said this, George VI would have certainly been mindful of the fact that, for Britain, Canadian support would be essential to a successful war effort and I’m sure his British cabinet looked at the tour in that light. So, this vital British objective could hardly have been absent from his mind.  For many Canadians, the king represented a British empire to which they still felt a keen personal loyalty.

RSJ Blog: Talking about loyalty, what significance did the filming of the event have at that time and was it rather exceptional or already a usual procedure to have British royal visits accompanied by a camera team? Where were these films broadcasted to?

Barbara: I think in any royal tour, commemoration was a given. Books commissioned to depict the tours were a standard way to do this, as were photographs. For example, there are some great photographs and sketches of the Prince of Wales’s 1860 visit to Canada, including one of him riding a timber slide. The commemoration would take the form available in the day. In 1939, the daily radio broadcasts and a commemorative film provided a way to both broaden the reach of the tour and to preserve it. The 1939 film was produced by Canada’s National Film Board, so it would be widely circulated, and it really provides a way to frame the narrative in an optimal way. The film is meant to convey a message of loyalty to the Crown, including among French Canadians, aboriginal Canadians, and veterans of the Great War. Military inspections are featured prominently in the film.

RSJ Blog: Thank you very much for deepening our insight into the topic! What other project are you pursuing at the moment?

Barbara: I’m happy to share these thoughts with you. My newest project is a study of Canada’s pre-Confederation upper house. We have perennial debates in Canada about whether our appointed Senate should be elected or eliminated altogether. But few Canadians know that we actually had an elected upper house between 1856 and 1867, so I’m investigating the reasons why that short-lived experiment was abandoned.

RSJ Blog: A very opportune question concerning the actual debate. We are looking forward to reading about your results!

the unveiling of the national war memorial, ottawa 1939_margaret fulton frame

The Unveiling of the National War Memorial, Ottawa 1939 by Margaret Fulton Frame

 

CCCU Prizes 2018

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

Interview with Stella Fletcher

Cardinals and the War of Ferrara

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

RSJ Blog: Welcome Stella and thank you for agreeing to this interview with us!

Stella: I’m flattered to have been asked.

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

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

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Pope Sixtus IV, Titian ca. 1545

RSJ Blog: How much was the education of future cardinals as political assets part of a noble family’s long-term planning?

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

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

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

RSJ Blog: Did Sixtus IV’s experience of the Ferrarese war influence the way in which subsequent popes dealt with the secular powers?

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

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

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

Pope Julius II_Raphael

Pope Julius II, Raphael ca. 1511

RSJ Blog: Thank you very much for giving us these fascinating insights into your topic. What is your next project?

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

New Website for the Royal Studies Journal!

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

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

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

We hope you enjoy the new website!

Conference Report from Kalamazoo

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

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

Session One:

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

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

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

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

Session Two:

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with John Murphy

Cardinal Reginald Pole: Questions of Self-Justification and of Faith

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

RSJ Blog: First of all, thank you John for doing this interview with us!

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

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

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

Cardinal Reginald Pole

Cardinal Reginald Pole (Sebastiano del Piombo, 1540)

RSJ Blog: You say that Pole left a large written heritage. Did he express himself on the accusations of being a hidden Lutheran?

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Paul III by Titian, ca.1543

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possibly Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

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

RSJ Blog: Thank you so much for you time! What is your next project?

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

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