Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Ellen Wurtzel

Ellen Wurtzel is an associate professor of history at Oberlin College (Ohio). She also  took part in the recent issue of the Royal Studies Journal on Taking Possession 

Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you for doing this interview on your recent article in the Royal Studies Journal “The Joyous Entry of Albert and Isabella in Lille”. First of all, could you tell us a bit more about what a “joyous” entry is, especially in comparison to other forms of entry or taking possession?

Ellen: Thanks so much for the opportunity of talking more about the article; I really enjoyed being part of the special issue for RSJ on Taking Possession. Joyous Entries were a particular form of late medieval ritual, but as you note, not the only one. Cities had numerous kinds of festival moments, including triumphal entries, marriage celebrations, peace processions and annual religious events. What differentiated Joyous Entries from these other celebrations was that they were the first visit of a ruler to a city, often at the beginning of his or her reign. It was a moment of introduction that served as an important kind of communication between two political entities.  While it is unclear exactly when this political ritual began, the inclusion of a written agreement originated when the Duke of Brabant entered the city of Leuven and delivered a charter in 1356. One article stated that if the sovereign did not fulfill his duties as specified in the document, his subjects would not be bound to obey him further.  When tensions rose in the 1560s over religious and political differences in the Low Countries, the Brabantine document was reprinted and distributed in a number of cities in order to legitimize a burgeoning rebellion. The 1582 Entry for the Duke of Anjou in Antwerp, in the midst of rebellion, contained pointed references to Spanish tyranny. Joyous Entries, like any liminal moment, could be fraught with potential disruption.

Interestingly, this ritual was revived with the founding of Belgium in 1830. The most recent Joyous Entries occurred in 2013 for King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and included the cities of Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent and of course, Leuven.

Cathleen and Kristen: In your article, you highlight that urban history considers early modern cities, and in particular, rituals like joyous entries as losing importance compared with the rising power of territorial rulers, in the case of Lille, the Habsburgs. Could you expand a bit on this? How can the relation between city and territorial rule be classified? And, is there really a decline in urban independence compared to the (late) middle ages?

Ellen: These are really big questions that depend in large part on what area of Europe one studies and how one defines the territorial power of rulers like the Habsburgs in the early modern period. The traditional narrative, shaped by Henri Pirenne and other social and economic historians, focused on the development of the powerful cities in Flanders and Brabant since the southern Low Countries was one of the most densely-urbanized populations in the later Middle Ages. Medieval cities, created to enable long-distance and local trade, arose and eventually weakened the power of feudal lords. A new class of people no longer bound to the land/service to their lord created economic opportunities and begat political liberties—and power. At the end of the Middle Ages, Pirenne argued, monarchical states developed political organizations that were strengthened by bureaucracy drawn from city elites, loyal armies, and the power to implement new taxation. With cities drawn more and more into the orbit of rulers’ needs—for money and war—their independence lessened. Therefore, in this traditional model, rituals like Joyous Entries could no longer be seen as a kind of negotiation, a contract, but rather a symbolic acceptance of territorial rulers’ overweening power.

While the dominance of that older model has been considerably weakened by the work of many historians in the past 25-30 years, it continued to shape the way that Joyous Entries were perceived until quite recently. Cities and states are no longer seen as either diametrically opposed systems or diachronic in importance. Even for strong-state kingdoms like France, historians have shown that the ‘state’ in its modern form was not fully-defined in the early modern period and different polities, including cities, continued to exercise corporate power vis-à-vis other political institutions. Moreover, not every city had an antagonistic relationship to the territorial ruler—Lille is a prime example of a city that promoted accommodation and peaceful negotiation while still retaining many liberties. In the early modern period, its officers consolidated power vis-à-vis other local authorities with whom the city corporation competed. The recognition of this diversity in the early modern period has enabled scholars like Anne-Laure Van Bruaene, Margit Thøfner, Michael Wintroub and Michael Breen to examine events like Joyous Entries in a new light, both in terms of audience and message.  My research on Lille’s Joyous Entry of 1600 in the RSJ confirms the continuing importance of these events as a primary site of identity fashioning and political negotiation, and allows us to ask new questions—about how city residents perceived their own pasts and how that perception of history and identity shaped their interactions with rulers.

Cathleen and Kristen: Lille at the turn of the sixteenth to the seventeenth century was, although firmly under the rule of the Spanish Habsburgs, geographically and culturally close to the rebellious cities of the later Netherlands/General States. In what ways was this visible also in the recognition of a new sovereign in 1600?

Ellen: It’s important to remember that in 1600, the Dutch Revolt was far from over. War between the Habsburgs and the French had ended in 1598, but the seventeen provinces of the Low Countries were still at war and would be officially until 1648. Although delegates from Walloon Flanders (Lille, Douai and Orchies) and Hainaut had signed the Treaty of Arras in 1579 and Alexander Farnese had won back allegiance to the Spanish Habsburgs in other southern provinces, it was in no way clear that the Low Countries were to be divided permanently into two separate political entities. Since the thirteenth century, Lille’s merchants and political elites had longstanding commercial ties with other cities in the Low Countries. They shared many cultural exchanges through participation in competitions of rhetorical societies and sent ambassadors to other cities. By the sixteenth century, their delegates met with those from other regions in the States-General and negotiated for lower taxes. The introduction of the Protestant Reformation, increasing taxes, and subsequent political tensions with the Habsburgs, however, meant that common ground was difficult to find, particularly since some city governments embraced the new religion and others did not. That uncertainty about the collective identity of the Low Countries remained in 1600, alongside hope for stability and peace under new sovereigns Albert and Isabella. While the lavish spending on the event, and ritual of the Joyous Entry itself mirrored what was seen in nearby cities like Valenciennes and Antwerp, Lille’s Entry focused primarily on the city’s history in relation to its rulers and (perhaps purposefully) avoided references to specific neighboring cities.


Lille in the late 16th century (based on  Braun and Hogenberg, Civitates Orbis Terrarum, II (1575))

 

Cathleen and Kristen: Part of the festivities were tableaux vivants, living pictures, which represented the city’s history by highlighting important events. It was, in a way, a form of historiography “written” by the magistrates of the city – what can these living pictures tell us about sixteenth-century Lille, and how they saw themselves? How were they different from earlier representations or from other cities?

Ellen: Many cities in the Low Countries, France and England included living pictures in their festivities throughout the later Middle Ages. They were a wonderful way of making history come alive by forging a relationship between past events and the present viewers. Local people that one knew would dress up as the long dead Queen Mahaut or King Philip II surrounded by the conquered but happy people of his empire. It allowed people in cities like Lille to forge a personal relationship to far off or far distant events and implicitly acknowledge their legitimacy and relevance. Tableaux vivants were didactic forms of entertainment, but they also meant to display the learnedness of the local elite—sometimes with mixed results. In one memorable visit of Duke Charles the Bold to Lille in 1468, one of his counselors, a Lille native, thought he would honor the city by having three local women perform the Judgment of Paris. They were, according to a now-lost chronicle, apparently so far from Hera, Aphrodite and Athena in size and stature (one was nicknamed Grosse Juliette, another so thin that the author likened her to a herring) that upon seeing the scene the duke burst out laughing and was unable to stop! These classical or religious histories were popular subjects well into the sixteenth century, but during the fraught years of the 1570s and 1580s, their high-flown symbolism became weighted with barely-concealed allusions to Spanish tyranny. Lille’s Joyous Entry of 1600 pointedly avoided protest. The program focused less on religion or allegory than local events, shifting to what I would term a more prosaic kind of history. It indicated the increasing popularity of new forms of historical writing and the presence of humanist-educated men like Floris van der Haer, who published histories as well as fashioned the Joyous Entry. But it also meant that lillois magistrates wanted to introduce themselves to their new sovereigns by fashioning a different kind of narrative including their rulers’ imperial conquest, their own steadfast loyalty and a shared faith, Catholicism.

Example of a tableau vivant (Philip II of Spain)

Cathleen and Kristen: You argue in your article that some of these tableaux vivants were already imagining Lille as part of the nation of Belgium, a territory which came into being as nation-state in 1830, more than 200 years later. How far were early proto-national sentiments already influential in the early modern period in Lille? And what did the contemporaries understand as “Belgian”?

Ellen: Although the focus of the Joyous Entry was Lille’s history, a number of the tableaux vivants and triumphal arches included references to the Belgian people and Belgium. These terms began to appear in reference to the whole Low Countries beginning in the 1550s, particularly in scholarly circles, and which both writers in the north and the south were using to describe their “Netherlandishness”. Some historians have argued that the shift from the plural les pays de pardeça to the singular, le pays de pardeça, or use of Nederlands or la Belge indicate a nascent nationalism. The Treaty of Augsburg  in 1548 had made the Low Countries its own entity within the Holy Roman Empire (The Burgundian Circle) and the Pragmatic Sanction the following year ensured that the same ruler would inherit the seventeen provinces. During the Revolt, those references moved from the antiquarian to the political, when both sides made reference to the Low Countries in terms of fighting for their country, the patrie or vaterland. I think the frequent appearance of Belgian and Belgium in Lille’s Joyous Entry raises some interesting questions—did the organizers mean to be subtly political? Or did van der Haer, Lille’s celebrated organizer of the event, see Belgium as a concept highlighting the learnedness of Lille’s educated citizenry and nothing more? One can’t say for sure, of course, but the context of their use appears to indicate that the lillois organizers wanted to see themselves as part of a larger polity within the Empire of the Habsburgs and were trying to figure out a way to do it. Many were uncertain what that belonging meant in 1600, with ten provinces in the south under Habsburg rule and the seven in the north still rebellious. Belgium united them, within the city and regionally, without forcing them to define what exactly that meant. And while these references were entirely positive in the Joyous Entry, they may also have served as a subtle warning that Lille was not alone and could act with other provinces, as they had in the recent past.

Cathleen and Kristen: The historiography in the sixteenth century experienced its own “spatial turn”, long before the more recent one in the last few years: chorography and cosmography found its way into early modern history writing. Could you expand a bit more on these ideas and their implementation?

Ellen: Yes, this idea of a sixteenth-century spatial turn was a really fun area to ‘think with’. While all kinds of historical writing was more common in the sixteenth century, the newfound interest among Europeans for places around the globe meant that chorography, or local description, became a popular way of pairing history with place. One of the most successful chorographies was Lodovico Guicciardini’s Description of All the Low Countries, which combined short descriptions of a number of cities and regions with maps and city views and includes their physical features, major monuments, events in history and celebrated figures. The focus of both the images and the written descriptions were on place, like a guidebook. Guicciardini and others described what happened in the past primarily through showing what could be seen—buildings, streets, oceans and fields. This emphasis on place created a particular kind of historical narrative. The peacefulness of chorographic descriptions contrasted with other kinds of history emerging during the period, like broadsheets that were published showing terrible events like the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. When reading chronicle accounts of Lille’s Joyous Entry, I noticed that several of the tableaux vivants were very similar to Guicciardini’s Description in both language and subject, and it made me think about how much Lille’s Joyous Entry reflected a chorographic sense of history. The sovereigns moved through the streets of the city and touched on the events of the past through seeing the institutions their ancestors had created. The place-based fashion it told local history allowed lillois and their visitors to avoid reminders of the recent turmoil that had torn apart the Low Countries.

Cathleen and Kristen: Finally, could you tell us a bit about what you are working on now? What can we look forward to reading from you next?

Ellen: Something completely different! I am finishing up one project but embarking on a study of urban bathhouses in the francophone world during the late medieval and early modern periods. From the mid fourteenth to the mid sixteenth centuries in the major cities of France and the Empire—Paris, Marseille, Avignon, Nîmes, Lyon, Besançon, Geneva, Tournai, Valenciennes, and Lille, to name a few—bathhouses welcomed all kinds, from locals and travelers to married couples, singletons, magistrates and members of religious orders. Histories of water and hygiene have noted the ubiquity of these places in urban France, and important studies have described the role of bathhouses in the history of prostitution, but little has been written on their social and economic history—who owned them, in what parts of cities, and with what labor and resources. It is a rich topic that can serve as a framework for understanding urban sites of sociability and gender distinction, medieval entertainment and pleasure, health and hygiene, material culture and the economy of individuals, families and institutions.

Cathleen and Kristen: This does sound interesting! We are looking forward to see what you discover in these urban bathhouses, and what it will tell us about late medieval/early modern urban culture. Thank you for doing this interview!

 

 

 

Interview with Charles Keenan

Charles Keenan is the Assistant Director of the Core Curriculum at Boston College. He is also author of the article The Limits of Diplomatic Ritual: The Polish Embassy of Giovanni Francesco Commendone (1572-1573) and Criticism of Papal Legates in Early Modern Europe in the special issue of the Royal Studies Journal on Taking Possession

Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you, Charles, for your interesting article in the Royal Studies Journal! In your article, you follow the papal legate, Cardinal Giovanni Francesco Commendone, to Poland-Lithuania during the interregna and elections of the 1570s. Such a mission of a legate was uncommon, especially since the use of papal nuncios spread across early modern Europe. Could you tell a bit more about the context of this mission, and why the apostolic nuncio in Poland was not enough?

Charles: Thanks for inviting me to appear on this blog! The original purpose of Commendone’s mission was to help organize a defensive league against the Ottoman Turks, which was a priority of Pope Pius V (r. 1566-1572) and his successor, Gregory XIII (r. 1572-1585). (As context, this was the same period as the famous naval battle of Lepanto.) Commendone was instructed to travel to the courts of the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to secure military support. This task could not have been entrusted to nuncios both because Commendone needed to speak to multiple rulers (nuncios were typically “in residence” at a single court and were only credentialed to function as a diplomatic representative there) and because of the delicate nature of negotiations regarding the league: this was a significant request that would entail substantial financial commitments, something that even the powerful Philip II of Spain balked at when asked.  Of course, following the death of King Sigismund II Augustus in 1572 Commendone was instead instructed to oversee the election of the next Polish king, and the issue of the league faded from view.


Giovanni Francesco Commendone

Cathleen and Kristen: So, his mission changed from gathering support to overseeing the election – and he failed, as you also stated in your article! How and why did Commendone fail?

Charles: I suggest there were two reasons for his failure. The first was related to the rituals surrounding diplomatic embassies, which were interrupted by the vicissitudes of the interregnum. As mentioned, the fact that Commendone was already in the middle of another embassy complicated the procedures for beginning a “new” mission to oversee the royal election, and, with no king in place, it was unclear who should receive him – the Polish diet, or only certain factions in the diet, or the one of several individuals claiming to be “leaders” of the commonwealth during the interregnum.  The second, less obvious issue was Commendone’s authority as a papal representative to intervene in secular political affairs. As I try to show in this essay, there was widespread disapproval of the legate’s role in the Polish election, which points to a larger critique of the papacy’s involvement in secular government.

Cathleen and Kristen: The close connection between a diplomat and whoever send him seems to be at the heart of Commendone’s failure. What can this failure of diplomatic ritual tell us about the bigger context of European politics, especially in a time of confessionalisation?

Charles: The rituals surrounding this particular diplomat – the legate a latere – derived their efficacy from the authority of the figure whom the legate represented, the pope. The failure of legatine rituals thus suggests a larger problem with papal authority in sixteenth-century Europe, which should come as no surprise. In many ways Commendone’s story points to a larger development, the secularization of European politics and the removal of the Roman papacy from international affairs, something that is evident during Commendone’s mission but which is unmistakable by the time of the Thirty Years’ War.

Cathleen and Kristen: Going from the subject of research to the researcher himself: How did you get started working papal diplomacy, and how does it differ from other kinds of early modern diplomacy? Was the pope still regarded as superior to all kingdoms, or was he just another ruler?

Charles: Well, if you asked one of the popes from this period, I’m sure they would maintain their superiority! It’s an interesting question. Some of the earliest resident ambassadors in Europe were stationed in Rome, and the pope was among the first rulers to send ambassadors abroad. But from the sixteenth century onward, the respect and honor paid to papal diplomats began to wane sharply. In many ways that is my argument in this paper: that there was a growing disjuncture between the papacy’s conception of itself and its authority and how other European states viewed the papacy. I became interested in papal diplomats after exploring the College of Cardinals in this period. Most of the literature on the Sacred College after the Reformation focus on cardinals’ roles in the growing papal bureaucracy (especially after Sixtus V reorganized the Roman curia in the 1580s), but a significant number of cardinals did not reside in Rome and instead served as papal diplomats across Europe.

Cathleen and Kristen: Finally, the events surrounding Commendone during the election of the new Polish king are described much like a game of Chinese whispers – what was the role of rumours, communication, representation, and so on?

Charles: Given the sheer distance involved, with diplomats active in courts stretching from Paris to Warsaw, it was inevitable that communication issues were an important factor in this story. Dispatches could be delayed or lost altogether, and competing diplomatic networks – papal, French, Polish, imperial, Spanish – picked up on different rumors and transmitted them to different locations at different speeds. One walks away with an appreciation for difficulties facing all the parties involved. Policy decisions were difficult to negotiate on their own, but the communication and implementation of those policies presented another set of challenges altogether.

Cathleen and Kristen: Charles, thank you for showing us how diplomatic failure can actually expand historical research! What are you working on now? Any interesting new projects we might soon be hearing more about?

Charles: I just finished preparing a translation of a sixteenth-century Jesuit devotional manual, Gaspar Loarte’s Exercise of the Christian Life, which is now available, and an overview to the historiography of Jesuit devotional literature should be appearing soon. Besides revising my book manuscript, which examines Catholic responses to edicts of toleration in the sixteenth century, I’m also drafting two articles at the moment: one that explores the difficulties Catholic diplomats faced in gathering information about Protestant Britain, and another that traces the career of Vincenzo Lauro, a contemporary of Commendone who was nuncio to Scotland, Savoy, and Poland before being created cardinal.

Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you so much for answering our questions, and good luck with your writing projects!

 

 

Interview with Jennifer Mara DeSilva

Jennifer Mara DeSilva is an Associate Professor of History at Ball State University (Indiana, USA). Her research focuses on Renaissance Italy and the Papal Court, especially cultural, political, and social history of the Renaissance and Reformation movements. Her current research focuses on how individuals and groups at the Papal Court established identities through office-holding, rituals, and relationships with groups and sites. She has also just edited the first thematic issue of the Royal Studies Journal on the topic of “taking possession”.

 

Kristen and Cathleen: Hi Jennifer, thanks for doing this interview for our readers at the Royal Studies Journal Blog! Could you maybe first tell us a bit how this special issue of the Royal Studies Journal came to be, and what the idea behind the topic of “taking possession” is? Who takes possession of what?

Jennifer: Hi Kristen and Cathleen, it is a pleasure to speak about this exciting new issue of the Royal Studies Journal. This issue began life as a series of panels that I organized at the 2015 Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in Vancouver, Canada. The CFP invited scholars who work broadly on entry rituals and ceremonies of possession across the early modern world. I am a firm believer in the importance of conferences to bring scholars together who work on similar themes. Successful interactions create new communities that sometimes result in printed studies. A subset of the papers presented offered a conversation about the diversity of possession rituals in projecting messages about royal authority and identity, so I proposed a special issue on the topic to the RSJ editor-in-chief. One of the advantages of collections that emerge from conferences is that the contributors have already done the core research work, so working up an article-length study does not take too long. Conversations with other panelists and the audience help to expand their conception of the topic and its context. Also, big conferences like SCSC draw scholars from all career levels, which incorporates early career scholars into the conversation and helps to publicize their work. Keeping our field dynamic depends upon bringing new people and new ideas to the table.

The concept of “taking possession” has been around for a long time, but has mostly been explored in rather traditional forms: royal progresses by new monarchs, processions that affirmed the pope’s episcopal role, and New World territorial conquests. While these are the best-known examples of individuals and groups “taking possession” of communities, these studies only scratch the surface of the concept. The act of “taking possession” is a mechanism for asserting authority, reputation, and relationships. This has been done for centuries in a wide variety of settings and by far more people than princes, popes, and pioneers. RSJ Volume 3 Issue 2 is an opportunity to consider how early moderns applied the idea of “taking possession” to their own situations and means in order to project messages about their position in the local and global hierarchy and the privileges and responsibilities that their positions entailed. What we found was that the stratum immediately below monarchs was quite active on behalf of their royal masters. Ambassadors, cardinals, legates, agents, and even city fathers used entry ceremonies to negotiate reputations for themselves and the monarchs that they represented or greeted. Examining these events allowed us to consider how a monarch and state’s reputation for strength was constantly reinforced across a wide variety of sites, from the national cardinal’s titular church in Rome to congested city streets. The spaces that were possessed – communities, churches, squares, and intersections – are better understood as sites and opportunities for expressing strength based on relationships and resources. True possession was rarely had, but monarchs and their proxies avidly sought the local reputation and influence that resulted from these events.

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Jean Bourdichon: Le Voyage de Gênes: entrée de Louis XII à Gênes

Kristen and Cathleen: So, taking possession of a space was far more ceremonial, symbolic, and a representation of authority. But inhowfar are such ritual entries representations of already existing power relationships, and how do they contribute to a change in this relationship?

Jennifer: Up to a point these events reflect and display the extent of existing hierarchies. A minor state is not going to rise above a major state simply because it puts on an impressive show. However, these events are opportunities to publicly display relationships within those hierarchies, which involves a larger group in the reputation-making process and lays plain the composition, growth, and rivalry of factions. Accounts of ritual entries allow historians to see how witnesses quantified reputation and reacted to displays produced by monarchs and their proxies. These accounts offer a glimpse into the deeper effects of “mere ritual” and sometimes provide commentary on developments in political relationships, as John Hunt’s article shows.

Kristen and Cathleen: You brought together authors concerned with entries in early modern Lille, Rome, and the Papal states. Are there any similarities across early modern Europe considering the actors of such entries, the ritual forms, or the expectations from local and distant audiences?

Jennifer: There are certainly broad similarities across ritual entries. Ellen Wurtzel’s study of the new monarchs, Archduke Albert and Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, in Lille and Cloe Cavero Carondelet’s study of a proxy agent in Rome, standing in for King Philip III of Spain’s newest cardinal, reveal this clearly. Specifically, these articles show similarities in how the ritual expected participants to travel through spaces, greet specific people, perform acts, and thus have their identities, positions, and responsibilities affirmed by the ritual and the witnessing crowd. Nonetheless, this concept of “taking possession” through ritual action was applied in diverse ways and spaces. The frequent publication of accounts of entries through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries shows an interest in documenting and disseminating both ideal rituals and innovative developments across Europe. However, we must not forget that the tone, experience, and political results of these events could vary widely and depended on the individual context and the specific relations between organizers, “possessors”, and observers.

Kristen and Cathleen: You said already a bit about the entries from the point of view of the possessor respectively how these entries were supposed to be viewed by the possessed. However, if we turn the perspective around, were such possessions also a sign of the need for the subjects to accept the authority; i.e. a symbol of power from the ruled over the ruler?

Jennifer: Yes, in many cases. The rituals established a relationship between the ritual actor/monarch/authority and the community. The well-known progresses that French kings made were similar in purpose to the pope’s possesso ritual that involved traveling with the entire Papal Court from the Vatican Palace across the city to his episcopal see of St. John Lateran. In both cases the rulers followed traditional itineraries through their cities in order to meet with distinct groups and ratify their privileges and relationships with the central authority. As with other aspects of social life in communities with low literacy rates, public memory played an important role in these events. The observing community was called on to affirm the historical roots of the ritual forms, the legitimacy of the actors involved, and the legality of the adopted roles. While it was possible to avoid witnessing these entries as a statement against the proposed authority, this was not always a profitable avenue of negotiation. In many cases the situation was more delicate. As Charles Keenan’s article shows, observers might accept the individual’s right to office, but have a conflict with his or her intended policy and future actions.

Kristen and Cathleen: There is a huge emphasis on the rituals and spaces of these entries, which raises the question of sources – what kind of sources have survived to bring these entries to life? Is Geertz’s thick description possible from a 400-500 years distance? Or, in different words: how can we today understand the (symbolic) language of rituals?

Jennifer: There are a wonderful array of sources that have survived that help us understand the mechanism of and reaction to rituals of possession. These include published and personal accounts, images of events and apparati – see the British Library’s online collection of Renaissance Festival Books –, records of planning, construction, and payments, as well as the spaces themselves in some cases. While not all records survive for each event, enough do in cities, galleries, libraries and archives worldwide to reveal how there were global norms and patterns of action and interest on the part of both actors and observers. Geertz’s method of thick description is possible, but hinges on immersion in the sources, acknowledging the reality of festive labor, and using context to its maximal effect. The language of rituals, symbolic as it may be, has maintained certain core ideas over the centuries.

Kristen and Cathleen: Finally, could you please tell us a bit about how these early modern rituals of taking possession are still influential today, e.g. todays importance of the keys of the city, or the Lord Mayor’s Show in London?

Jennifer: Modern communities continue to hold entry rituals to greet leaders and celebrities, and politicians seeking election participate in progresses across their electoral districts. They depend upon public observers to show support, negotiate relationships, and thus build their reputations. Our ability to record and manipulate these events has grown with the development of the modern media and especially with the proliferation of individualized digital platforms. Today we are more likely to see rituals of possession as an integral part of celebrity or political culture, but the presence of an important or popular figure riding in a parade waving to crowds – be it members of a champion local soccer team, a newly crowned or elected head of state, or pop singers performing on a float – remains the same. We continue to participate in the process by which messages of reputation based on office or achievement are publicly ratified by traveling to and through landmark spaces under the public eye. These events are wide ranging, from traditional royal or ecclesiastical progresses to the Olympic flame relay and Santa Claus parades. Even in the twenty-first century, we seek out opportunities to interact locally with political, religious, and cultural leaders, and share our communities with them. Perhaps it is a common human need that makes us want to stake a claim to visitors, just as they want to “take possession” of us.

Kristen and Cathleen: Thank you very much for this interview, Jennifer! All of you who are now even more curious to read more about taking possession of a space, head over to the Royal Studies Journal, and enjoying reading the first thematic issue!

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The very beginning of the Olympic Torch starting it’s entry into Rio de Janeiro in 2016

CCCU Article Prize Winner – Interview with Rocío Martínez López

The first winner of the Royal Studies Studies Journal Article Prize is Rocío Martínez López, a doctoral candidate at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Madrid, Spain). She is also involved in the organisation of the next Kings & Queens conference which will take place in Madrid in September 2017.

Rocío has translated her article with the invaluable help of Ellie Woodacre and Jitske Jasperseand. It appears in the current issue of the Royal Studies Journal here.

I caught up with her to ask a few more questions about her article, and her research in general.

 

Cathleen: Hi Rocío! Thanks for doing this interview.
You recently won the Royal Studies Journal Article Prize, sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) for your article ‘La infanta se ha de casar con quien facilite la paz o disponga los medios para la guerra‘. Las negociaciones para la realización del matrimonio entre la infanta María Teresa y Leopoldo I (1654-1657) in the journal Revista de Historia Moderna 33 (2015). Congratulations!
First of all, could you tell us a bit about this article? What is it about?

Rocío: Hi, Cathleen! Thanks for your congratulations! I feel really honored and I want to thank the Royal Studies Journal, the Canterbury Christ Church University and the ECR and Young Researchers’ Article Prize Committee for it. Well, my article focuses on the analysis of the marriage negotiations between Felipe IV of Spain and the emperors Ferdinand III and Leopold to arrange the marriage between the King of Spain’s prospective heiress, infanta María Teresa, and the heir of the Imperial branch of the Habsburgs. These negotiations, which lasted more than a decade, can help us understand the complex relationship maintained between both branches of the House of Habsburg after the peace of Westphalia, in a moment in which the problem of the Spanish Succession was of capital importance in Europe. After the death of Prince Baltasar Carlos, Felipe IV’s only son and heir, in 1646, the question of the marriage of his only surviving daughter and heiress became a crucial point in the European diplomacy of the moment. María Teresa was the direct successor of her father for more than ten years in an especially difficult moment for a Spanish monarchy immersed in a grueling war against France. Wanting to assure the inheritance of the Spanish monarchy for his line, in case that Felipe IV would die without a male heir, Emperor Ferdinand III tried to arrange the Infanta’s marriage with his heir, first with King Ferdinand IV of Hungary and, after his death, with Leopold I. But these ultimately failed negotiations were anything but easy. Felipe IV wanted to assure the future of his daughter and his monarchy, arranging a marriage for her that would help him to put an end to the war with France and, also, that would follow his interests regarding a possible goverment of the Spanish monarchy. For his part, Ferdinand III wanted for this marriage to follow his own dispositions and refused to let his son and heir renounce to the Crown of the Empire to marry the Infanta and to live in Madrid, even when Felipe IV ended up offering the hand of his daughter in marriage to Leopold. Ferdinand III died without resolving this issue and Leopold I showed very soon his good disposition to travel to Madrid and renounce the possibility of being elected Emperor, even when he realized that he could end up with nothing if Felipe IV had a male child. They were negotiating this arrangement when Mariana of Austria, Felipe IV’s second wife, gave birth to a son, Prince Felipe Próspero. From that point onwards, María Teresa wasn’t the heiress of the Spanish monarchy anymore and her father had more freedom than before to arrange her marriage to his liking. This birth changed the rules of the game and Leopold I ended up losing the bride for whom he was ready to renounce the Crown of the Empire without any guarantees of getting the Spanish monarchy in return. It is a very interesting episode and shows us how the international politics could change drastically in connection with the dynastic problems and the crisis of sucession in Early Modern Europe.

452px-Retrato_de_la_infanta_María_Teresa_(3),_by_Diego_VelázquezInfanta María Teresa (by Diego Velázquez, 1652/53)

Cathleen: This question of the Spanish succession as well as the diplomatic negotiations regarding the marriage of María Teresa, daughter and heiress of Felipe IV, dominated the second half of the 17th century between the Thirty-Years-War and later the wars of María Teresa’s eventual husband, Louis XIV. How do these failed marriage negotiations relate to the War of the Spanish Succession a few decades later?

Rocío: This marriage is closely related to the War of the Spanish Succession. We need to take into account that the problem of the Spanish Succession isn’t a circumstance that emerged in the last years of the seventeenth century, but an issue that had a great importance in the European policy from 1646 until the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession. In the question of the Spanish succession, Felipe IV’s daughters and Carlos II’s sisters, María Teresa and Margarita, had a crucial importance, as the most immediate relatives of the childless King. The marriage of María Teresa with Louis XIV was preceded by a solemn renunciation, made by the Infanta, of all her rights to the Spanish Monarchy for herself and her descendants, but Louis XIV began to fight against its legality soon after the marriage took place. This renunciation made her little sister Margarita the legitimate heiress of Carlos II, following said renunciation and Felipe IV’s last will. Margarita ended up getting married to her sister‘s old suitor, Leopold I, and her line would be considered as the legitimate heirs of the Spanish monarchy until its extinction in 1699, despite France’s claims. Louis XIV‘s pressure regarding the Spanish sucession came from his marriage to María Teresa and the fact she was Felipe IV’s eldest daughter. If she had married Leopold I, as it was originally planned, and had had surviving issue, France would not have had the same claims to the Spanish succession and this process would have been very different. Felipe IV didn’t want his inheritance to leave the House of Austria. Both Felipe IV and Ferdinand III were very aware of the problems that could befall their dynasty if the inheritance of the Spanish monarchy were to end up in the hands of France and that belief was very present in this marriage negotiation. On one point, Felipe IV’s counsellors advised their King that he should marry María Teresa with the Emperor’s heir because they would need his help in case France claimed any territories of the Spanish monarchy in any instance. Felipe IV was aware that the marriage between María Teresa and Louis XIV was the most convenient possibility to end the war, but he couldn’t allow it while his daughter was his only heiress. It was the birth of two possible male heirs that made him feel secure enough about the future of his own line to choose another destiny for María Teresa. But its connection with the War of the Spanish Succession is very clear and can show us how the Spanish’s succession crisis influenced the European policy decades before its outbreak.

Cathleen: So, just as a thought experiment: What if this marriage between María Teresa and Leopold I, between the two branches of the Habsburg dynasty, came to be? How would that have changed the course of events in the late 17th and early 18th century?

Rocío: The easy answer to that question would be that the War of the Spanish Succession would never have happened. None of the infantas who married into the Imperial branch of the Habsburgs renounced to their rights of succession to the Spanish throne and it wasn’t expected for Maria Teresa to do so if she married Leopold, as she had to do when she married Louis XIV. The possible rights to the succession of the Spanish throne that Louis XIV claimed on María Teresa’s behalf since 1660 onwards were linked to the fact that his wife was the eldest daughter of Felipe IV and eldest sister of Carlos II. Without said marriage, he wouldn’t have any claims to the Spanish territories with three descendants of Felipe IV (Carlos II, María Teresa, and Margarita) alive and with the possibility of having their own descendants. Other international problems linked to the succession crisis, like the War of Devolution (1667-1668) would have had a very different nature as well. Also, the marriage of Maria Teresa’s younger sister, Margarita, who eventually married Leopold years later, would have to be with another person, something that would have altered the rules of the game once more. As you can see, the history of Europe during the second half of the seventeenth century would have been very different. But I also have to add that these changes would have taken place only if María Teresa and Leopold, as well as Margarita and the one who would have been her husband, had surviving issue. Without them or their descendants, the succession would have been disputed between the descendants of the infanta Ana, eldest daughter of Felipe III of Spain, married to Louis XIII and mother of Louis XIV, who renounced her rights to the Spanish throne before her marriage (as María Teresa had to do) and those of the empress Maria Anna, youngest daughter of Felipe III, wife of emperor Ferdinand III and Leopold I’s mother. So if they would have died without any descendants, we would have been back to square one. And the chances of that happening weren’t as slim as one could think. María Teresa had six children with Louis XIV, of which only one, the Dauphin Louis, survived into adulthood and Margarita had four children with Leopold I, of which only the archduchess Maria Antonia survived and her line became extinct before the end of the century. But, even taking this into account, we can assume that the history of Europe from 1660 onwards would have been very different if the marriage between María Teresa and Leopold would have taken place as expected and, with descendants of this marriage, the War of the Spanish Succession probably would have never taken place.

Guido_Cagnacci_005Leopold I who did not marry María Teresa

Cathleen: The level of interest of Leopold I in this marriage is very surprising – even against the wishes of his father, he pressed for the negotiations and was prepared to relinquish the election to be emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Why was he so keen on marrying the Spanish infanta?

Rocío: When we talk about this, we must remember that, at the time, Felipe IV’s inheritance was composed of the most vast and extensive monarchy in the world. It has its problems, without any doubt, but the power it entailed was far greater than the one Leopold could efectively hold as an emperor, especially after the peace of Westphalia and the negotiations surrounding it imposed important limitations on the powers of the imperial ruler. I think that the prospect of being the king of the Spanish monarchy was too tempting for Leopold to refuse, especially when almost everybody thought that the possibility of Felipe IV having a surviving male heir were slim and he was sure that he could mantain control of the patrimonial lands of the Habsburgs in Central Europe, as well as of Hungary and Bohemia. Ferdinand III wanted for his heir to remain linked to his patrimonial lands and to the crown of the Empire and was very aware that his son could end up with very little if María Teresa wasn’t finally the heiress of the Spanish monarchy. In fact, if Felipe IV hadn’t tried to convince Leopold to present himself as a candidate for the Imperial Crown and had come to Spain when he wanted, he would have ended up only with his patrimonial lands after his prospective wife was relegated to a secondary place in the line of succession. Leopold was prepared to take the risk to have the oportunity of becoming one of the most powerful monarchs of the time through his wife, even if that meant giving up the difficult crown of the Empire, for whose government he had to rely heavily on the difficult Imperial princes. From his point of view, it was worth the risk and he was ready to take it at that moment, but it wasn’t mean to be.

Cathleen: What are you working on right now?

Rocío: I am currently working on my dissertation. It is focused precisely on the problem of Carlos II of Spain’s succession during his reign and how it influenced its political relationship with the Empire and Bavaria, using as a common point the fact that Infanta Margarita, archduchess María Antonia of Austria and Prince Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria were considered as the rightful heirs of the Spanish Monarchy by Madrid’s government. I had the opportunity of consulting documents of several archives of Spain and Vienna and I have been awarded a grant to conduct further research in Munich in autumn, so I am very happy with the results and I hope for my dissertation to be completed in winter 2017. Also, I am preparing two articles, one focused on the negotations for the marriage of Leopold I and Margarita of Austria after María Teresa’s marriage and the other presents an analysis of the rights of succession of the infantas and archduchesses of the House of Habsburg during the Early Modern period. And, finally, I am also working on the organization of the next King&Queens conference, who will take place in my hometown, Madrid, where I hope to see you all!

 Cathleen: Good luck with your research and your PhD and thanks so much for doing this interview! Hope as well to see you all at the next Kings&Queens Conference in Madrid which we will later have more about!

CCCU Book Prize Winner – Interview with Carolyn Harris

The winner of the first CCCU RSJ Book Prize, Dr. Carolyn Harris, is a historian, author and royal commentator (and isn’t this a great job title) from Toronto, Canada. She completed her PhD in spring 2012 at Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada), and has been very busy since then. Her prize-winning book Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette (Palgrave Macmillan: Queenship and Power Series) is already her second published monograph, the first one being Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law and Human Rights (Dundurn Press 2015), and the third is scheduled for 2017: Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting (Dundurn Press). Besides obviously spending her days researching and writing, she also teaches at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is a guest lecturer for museums, libraries, universities, and educational organisations. Occasionally, she even gives lectures at sea for cruise ship enrichment programs.

Find her also on Twitter @royalhistorian and here.

We got together with Carolyn to ask more about her research.

Cathleen: Hi Carolyn! Thanks for doing this interview!
You recently won the Royal Studies Journal Book Prize, sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) for your monograph Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette. Congratulations!

Could you first tell us a bit more about this book, especially for our readers who haven’t yet a chance to take a look inside?

Marie Antoinette 517px-HenriettaMariaofFrance02
Marie Antoinette (by François-Hubert Drouais) and Henrietta Maria (by Anthony van Dyck)

Carolyn: Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe analyzes Queen Henrietta Maria, queen to King Charles I and Queen Marie Antoinette, queen to King Louis XVI in their roles as wives, mothers and heads of royal households during the years preceding the English Civil Wars and French Revolution respectively. I compare the two queens and the political cultures of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The book is structured thematically, examining the contrast between how each queen viewed her domestic role and the expectations of her husband’s subjects. The final chapter compares the impeachment of Henrietta Maria by the House of Commons in 1643 with the Trial of Marie Antoinette by the Revolutionary Tribunal in 1793 then the book concludes with the lasting impact of the debates concerning each queen’s place in her family during periods of political turmoil.

Cathleen: While the comparison between Charles I and Louis XVI has often been made, their wives were usually a bit marginalized in the political history of the English and the French Revolution. How did you develop an interest in these two queens?

Carolyn: I have always been interested in the position of royal women in court culture and how these figures have been perceived by the public. My article for Canadian Slavonic Papers, The Succession Prospects of Grand Duchess Olga, examines the public role of Emperor Nicholas II’s daughters during the years prior to the Russian Revolutions of 1917. I also wrote a chapter about how Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter Princess Louise was perceived during her years as vice regal consort of Canada in the book Canada and the Crown: Essays on Constitutional Monarchy.

Examining Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette, I found the parallels between their experiences fascinating. They were both youngest daughters in large royal families where their mother’s wielded political power. As queens consort, they were judged as wives, mothers and mistresses of royal households and scrutinized as foreign influences over their respective ruling husbands. Henrietta Maria was impeached by the House of Commons during the English Civil Wars and Marie Antoinette was executed during the French Revolution after being tried and sentenced by the Revolutionary Tribunal. I wanted to explore the parallels between these two queens and how they conducted their lives in the public eye during periods when the role of women in society was debated during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Cathleen: You certainly emphasize the role of public opinion in the treatment of these queens. Could you please expand a bit more on this?

Carolyn: Criticism of the queen was a method of critiquing the king’s policies without direct criticism the king himself. Both Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette were women and foreigners and there was enormous popular anxiety about the potential for them to exert political influence. Critics of the queen could present themselves as loyal subjects who wanted to neutralize foreign influences. There was a long tradition in both England and France of critiquing advisors to the monarch and criticism of Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette became part of this tradition.

Critiquing the queen as a wife and mother was also a means for people of diverse social backgrounds including women to engage with the political process. High politics was the preserve of the elites but people of all social backgrounds could discuss the queen through their own experiences and observations of marriage and motherhood. Henrietta Maria’s critics included female writers who questioned the sincerity of harmonious imagery of the queen’s marriage and women arrested for seditious speech who spoke aloud of how they influence the king if they were the queen. Marie Antoinette was a patron of female writers and artists but women were divided in their opinions of the queen as a wife and mother. During the childless early years of her marriage, Marie Antoinette was criticized by Parisian market women because she had not given France a Dauphin. During the French Revolution, Olympe de Gouges dedicated the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen to the queen but the historian Louise de Karalio placed Marie Antoinette within a centuries long tradition of supposed crimes committed by Queens of France.

 Cathleen: After having read your book, it seems quite clear that between the times of Henrietta Maria (mid-seventeenth century) and of Marie Antoinette (end of eighteenth-century) not only the role of women in society was debated, but also quite a few changes happened concerning the role of women in their families and marriages as well as a different political culture in regards to (informal) counsel at court. How does this relate to these two queens?

 Carolyn: Both Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette became wives and mothers in the public eye during times periods of ideological debate concerning the role of women in their families. During Henrietta Maria’s lifetime, there was enormous concern among Protestants in England and Scotland regarding recusant wives and mothers who might influence their families toward Roman Catholicism. Henrietta Maria was a Roman Catholic princess married to a Protestant king and the terms of her marriage contract gave her both her religious freedom and authority over her children. Henrietta Maria therefore became the highest profile example of this phenomenon of recusant wives and mothers.

In late eighteenth century France, Enlightenment scholars debated the role of women within their families, especially whether the position of women arose from laws created by man or the conditions found in nature. Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that women were naturally inclined to the domestic sphere while the public sphere was a male realm. Marie Antoinette adopted certain elements of the late eighteenth century conception of natural childrearing including breast feeding and allowing her young children freedom of movement but she also expected to exert political influence in the public sphere. Marie Antoinette therefore became part of wider French debates about the proper role for women in their families and society.

Cathleen: This interest in early modern English and French queens seems quite different from your first book on the Magna Carta, especially its reception in Canada. Could you also tell a bit more about this?

Carolyn: Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette arose from my PhD research at Queen’s University. The manuscript was under development when I began working with Magna Carta Canada, writing historical articles about King John and Magna Carta for the exhibition that toured in Canada for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015. In 2014, the co-chairs of Magna Carta Canada invited me to write the companion book for the Magna Carta Canada exhibition, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada. The two book projects came together around the same time: Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada was published by Dundurn Press in May 2015 and Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe was published by Palgrave Macmillan in November 2015. There is common ground between the two books: the legacy of Magna Carta informed both the English Civil Wars and the French Revolution.

Cathleen: That is true – Magna Carta had a renaissance in seventeenth-century England as well as inspiring revolutionaries from all times. Besides writing prize-winning books, you are also quite active giving lectures and interviews as well as teaching and writing – honestly: how do you manage all this? What got you started?

Carolyn: The past five years have been extremely busy. During my PhD at Queen’s University, one of my professors recommended me to the media for interviews about royal history during weeks prior to the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton in 2011. I became the university’s royal expert, undertaking a diverse range of media work in print, online, radio and TV. In 2012, the year I completed my PhD and began teaching at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies, I established my website royalhistorian.com and twitter account @royalhistorian and continued to expand my media work. I am involved in a variety of projects in addition to teaching and providing royal history commentary for the media. I write regularly for the Historica Canada Canadian Encyclopedia, fact check documentaries and consult on museum exhibitions. I have guest lectured about history and royalty in a variety of settings including universities, libraries, retirement residences and cruise ships!

Screenshot HPScreenshot of Carolyn’s website with a glimpse of her book on Magna Carta

Cathleen: This sounds amazing! And you still find time for your own research! What are you working on right now?

Carolyn: I’m currently working on my third book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting, which will be published by Dundurn Press in 2017. The book will profile 25 sets of royal parents and the challenges they faced from fending off Viking attacks to fending off the paparazzi! I am also working on a scholarly article about Queen Henrietta Maria’s reputation during her widowhood. She continued to be an active and controversial political figure for twenty years after Charles I’s death but this period in her life has received comparatively little attention.

Cathleen: That is true. Much like for other queen consorts, there also seems a lot to learn about Henrietta Maria. Best luck for your new projects and thanks so much for doing this interview!

For more see our upcoming issue where you can read about why Carolyn’s book was selected and read Courtney Herber’s review of her prize winning book.

Interview with Layout Editors, Diana Pelaz Flores and Danna Messer

Dr. Diana Pelaz Flores has received her PhD from the University of Valladolid, Spain. Her research focused on the study of Castilian Queenship during the 15th century, especially in the reign of Juan II of Castile (1406-1454) and his two wives, Queens María of Aragón (1420-1445) and Isabel of Portugal (1447-1496). Currently, she is working in different research projects related to the symbolic importance of water in the Middle Ages and the formulation of the meaning of queenship in the Iberian Kingdoms.

Dr. Danna Messer has received her PhD from Bangor University in Northern Wales (and for everyone who has ever been to Bangor, that means she is also very adept at climbing steep hills). Her research focuses on women living in native Wales before the English conquest of 1282. While her PhD primarily concentrated on married women from the aristocratic and noble classes, she is now taking a closer look at ‘queens‘ and royal women from the native princely dynasties in historical and literary sources and records of practice.

Diana and Danna are the layout editors of the Royal Studies Journal – we got together with them to ask them, what it is they do and also a bit about their research.

Cathleen: Thank you both for doing this interview. First of all, could you tell us a bit more what a layout editor does?

Danna & Diana:  Well, essentially, to coin a friend’s term: the clue is in the title!  After an article or review has successfully gone through the peer-review process and is submitted for publication, it goes through the stages of being proofread and copy-edited.  Eventually, the final version is sent to our team to template it and lay it out according to our guidelines.  As editors, we work closely with the layout assistants; assigning articles and reviews to be laid out so the work is spread out as equally as possible and, ideally, with enough leeway time so there’s not a lot of stress involved at the end of production.  It’s not really just a matter of simply delegating work.  It’s about working with each other, including laying out articles ourselves, and helping with any glitches that arise.  There’s also the matter of looking after the online system that we have set up for the journal and making sure all the right boxes are ticked (figuratively and literally).  This side is important because if we don’t go through the proper technical channels, the journal physically can’t be published.

Levin article word file

Levin article layout version

Carole Levin‘s article on the afterlife of Elizabeth I in Stuart England, before and after Diana, Danna and their team worked on it

Cathleen: So, you are pretty much the last step to make sure everything is as it should be. How does your work fit in with all the other steps, e.g. section editors, copy editors and so on? Is there a lot of communication going on between these different roles?

Danna & Diana:  Really, with the journal overall there seems to be a lot of open communication across the board.  Certainly, as layout editors we work pretty closely with the copy editor, since her job also entails issues concerning agreed house formatting and style.

Cathleen: There is a quite a team of layout editors at the journal. Could you tell us a bit more about how you organise the work between you? Are there multiple rounds of checking? Also, what kind of software to you use? And what are the challenges there?

Danna & Diana: The main task is overseeing the OJS side of things so we can make sure the publication is pushed through on time and that the articles and reviews that appear in the publication are the final versions that are meant to be there.

We have an absolutely fantastic team to be working with.  Everyone is so enthusiastic about getting their hands dirty, so to speak, in order to help this journal be a continued success.  And, communication within the layout team is impressive given we are all busy with other life demands and spread so far and wide – if an email is sent querying something or if someone flags up an issue that needs to be dealt with it’s usually within a matter of a couple of hours at the most that any of us have to wait for a response.  It’s brilliant.  And reassuring.

We do multiple rounds of checking, as far as we can.  Generally, after an article or review has been laid out, it is sent back to the copyediting team and authors for a last run through to make sure everyone is happy we’re meeting our standards.  Previously, the journal has used Publisher for layout, but we are currently in the process of rejigging things with the intent to use Word from here-on-out.  There’s a general consensus that this switch will hopefully make the last-minute chaos that ensues in publishing when trying to meet deadlines a lot less chaotic!

Cathleen: Good luck with that! Besides layout editing for the journal, you have of course also your own research. Could you tell us a bit more about this?

Danna: My main research interest are the wives of the Welsh rulers before Wales was conquered by the English in 1282.  In particular, I focus on the ideals and expectations concerning women and gender found in the native and normative Welsh sources roughly composed during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and examine these against what records of practice actually tell us about the types of agency royal and noble women held.  Welsh queenship and kingship are very complicated topics because the whole system of rulership was pretty ill-defined and even use of the terms queenship and kingship are debatable.  My research on Welsh queens, nevertheless, is proving exciting because after some painstaking delving into the sources, it‘s pretty clear that women enjoyed real levels of political and economic agency that effected the administration/management of family lordships, as well as native Welsh polity and international relations.  It’s a topic that’s been ignored for too long and I just find it fascinating.

Diana: My research focuses on the role of the queens of Castile during the Late Middle Ages, especially in their role as the wives of kings. My main objective in my PhD was to understand the role of the queen consort in the different spheres of participation in the kingdom. By this reason, I have observed the political relevance of the wives of King Juan II of Castile (1406-1454), because these two women established a singular conflict against the king’s favourite, the Constable of Castile, Álvaro de Luna. The research on these Castilian queens, in relation to examples given by other queens of the Trastamara dynasty, has inspired other angles concerning Castilian queenship, such as the role of the queen as mother, the configuration of the queen’s itinerary, or the formation and composition of the queen’s household, among other aspects. The study of these women has been absolutely fascinating for me, because it helps me appreciate the importance of the queen in her context and the true role that developed with the evolution of the Crown of Castile. It is really suggestive and, in my opinion, it is a research field as interesting as necessary to understand the functions of the queen in the medieval period.

Cathleen: Alright, both of you share this fascination of medieval Queens – be it Welsh or Castilian. And, come to think of it, Castilian medieval queens and noble women in general are also research interests of the chief copy-editor of the Royal Studies Journal, Jitske Jasperse. Can you tell us a bit more about this fascination of medieval queens? For example, what exactly were their roles in politics? Did they mostly have influence via cultural patronage, or how did this work in a mostly male dominated world?

Danna:    For me, the fascination with queenship stems from the traditional lack of understanding (and, really, historic disinterest) concerning women’s lives in general.  There is so much research now showing that women were hardly on the periphery of society as most of history has led us to believe.  I think it’s crucial that we understand the varying levels of agency and downright power that women actually wielded from every aspect of society in order to have a more balanced view of the past.  I think this, in turn, has a direct impact on changing gender and sex relations and attitudes in our own cultures.

As for royal women in medieval Wales, there is a lot of evidence that strongly suggests that the office of the ‘queen’ was one that allowed the ruler’s wife significant political agency, on both the national and international stages.  In fact, there is very little evidence between 1100-1282 of the queen’s influence in terms of cultural patronage or the import of the pigeon-holed role of the woman as mother.  Though medieval Wales has been portrayed as a male-dominated society, all surviving evidence seems to singularly point towards real social and cultural expectations that women, and especially the wives of Welsh rulers, be both politically and economically active.

Diana: Well, I think the study of the relationship maintained by the women and power from the past let us to know the capacity and the implication of women in history, but also in the history of themselves. This is very important, since it increases our knowledge, especially with respect to the relations between the sexes and their mechanisms of acting. There are different roles developed by the queens, and the case given by the Crown of Castile is very interesting for its complexity and wealth of the scenarios where queens could participate. Concrete, during the government of the Trastamara dynasty (during the 14th/15th centuries), the same to which Isabel the Catholic belongs, we can observe the importance of Juana Manuel de Villena, the first queen of the dynasty, who legitimized her husband for the Castilian throne, thanks to her succession rights; her example is very similar to Catalina of Lancaster, as heir of the succession rights of Pedro I, the king who was murdered by Enrique of Trastamara. This relevance of the queens from the birth of the dynasty motivated a particular evolution and their specific weight in the Castilian Late Middle Ages. This was fruit of a historical relevance of the women of the royal family, because they could govern and inherit the throne according with the traditional law, different, for example, of the case of France where the Salic Law impeded it. In consequence, throughout medieval history of the Crown of Castile we can see strong queens consort, queens mother exerting the government as regents and queens regnant, too.

Cultural patronage is a fundamental field of study for understanding medieval queens, because it is possible to contrast the impact of their religiosity and their taste for literature, but it is not the only sphere where we can find the queens. The Castilian queens participated with her husband in the concession of privileges and they took part of the political evolution of the kingdom. In this sense, the queens were close to their husbands in the war against the Muslims; in occasions they even commanded the troops, as happened in the case of Juana Manuel during the Civil War after the death of king Pedro I. The capacity of the Queen to transmit her identity and her political perception can be observed clearly, such as reveals the example of María of Aragón against the royal favourite, who tried to separate her from the king Juan II. We can appreciate (at least in part, because not all documentation has been conserved) their functions in towns and cities that composed her lands as Queen of Castile, in addition to knowing her relevant influence on her children, thanks to their authority as mother.

Cathleen: Finally, is there anything you like to add – any way an author for the journal can help make your job easier, or anything else?

Danna & Diana:  I think our switch from Publisher to Word will make everyone’s job easier in the long-run, from the submission stage to the final layout.  It’s a good move to make.

Cathleen: Thank you both so much for doing this interview!

Danna & Diana:  Our pleasure!

 

Interview with Elizabeth Carney and Caroline Dunn

Elizabeth Carney and Caroline Dunn are the main organizers of the next Kings & Queens Conference, coming to you this April, 8th/9th at Clemson University in Greenville, SC, USA.

They are also both teaching and researching at this university; Elizabeth with a focus on the ancient world, especially on Greece and Macedonia as well as on Alexander the Great. Caroline is a scholar of medieval Europe, especially gender history in late medieval England.

We caught up with them to ask about their research and, of course, about what to expect at the next Kings & Queens Conference!

Cathleen: Hi Caroline and Beth! Thanks for doing this interview.

The Kings & Queens conference is leaving Europe, crossing the pond to Greenville, South Carolina and gathering at Clemson University. Could you tell us a bit more on how this happened?

Caroline & Beth: Several years ago, Beth, who works on queens in the ancient world, asked if I was interested in hosting a conference on premodern queenship. Since I had just returned from the first Kings and Queens at Corsham Court and enjoyed it so much I told Beth about the Royal Studies network and the conference series and said maybe it would be possible to bring the group to Clemson, it seemed an ideal base for creating an international conference involving monarchy and dynasty from many periods and places.

Caroline approached Ellie Woodacre at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in the summer of 2013 and, happily, she was enthusiastic about the idea of bringing Kings and Queens to  North America and also perhaps expanding knowledge of the Royal Studies Network further among the classical historians in Beth’s field of research.

 

Cathleen: So, what happens behind the scenes of organizing such a conference? For example, how many are in your team and what exactly do they do?

Caroline: The first decision we had to make was whether to host the conference at the heart of Clemson University, which is in the small town of Clemson, or at the modern Clemson University building located in the heart of the larger city of Greenville. We chose the Greenville location primarily because it is very close to the airport and we hoped to attract international scholars who might want to avoid renting cars (sadly there’s little to no public transportation in our part of the world). In addition, Greenville is a fun, vibrant little city so we are hoping that everyone will enjoy their downtime during the conference weekend too.

Beth and I are the primary organizers and for the most part we have worked in concert although Beth spent more time organizing the caterers while I have spent more time on the financial side. We also have assistance from Dr. Brandon Turner, who teaches in the department of Political Science. We are running a 1-credit course alongside the conference that has 6 undergraduate student helpers enrolled (Alex Beaver, Haskell Ezell, Polly Goss, Jennifer Iacono, Sarah Marshall, and Cameron Weekley). The course, part of the “Creative Inquiry” program at Clemson, is mutually beneficial. Students gain knowledge and professional experience with the the research side of academia, while we get to have them help out at the conference. We also have two graduate students, Lauren Martiere and Katrina Moore, helping us finish conference preparations.

Beth: Caroline and myself are doing most of the work, but we also have a graduate student designated by our department and help from another (doing her thesis with Caroline) and a group of six undergraduates who will be around at the conference and helped with planning. Brandon, a member of Clemson’s political science department is assisting and doubtless members of our department will as well. In addition, we are working with the caterers and the contact person at Clemson One and Aloft Greenville’s staff. My daughter—an event planner for NYU’s film school—may give some last minute assistance. While it is certainly easier to get to downtown Greenville from GSP airport than it is to work with a conference on Clemson’s main campus, there are still logistical problems for us arising from the fact that we are not basing the conference on the main campus. Caroline lives in Greenville and I will be staying at the hotel Thursday and Friday nights.

Clemson ONE with Aloft Hotel behind Clemson ONE and ONE City Plaza
pictured above: Clemson ONE and ONE City Plaza
© Caroline Dunn

Cathleen: That does sound like quite a big event, especially in regards to the international focus of the conference! Which brings me to my next question concerning the field of Royal Studies situated in the US historiography, and especially at Clemson – also considering that the US of A kind of became famous for being anti-monarchical in the late 18th century? Which interesting projects are going on right now in this field?

Caroline: This is an interesting question. The late twentieth-century trend towards social history was very prominent in the US and led historians away from studying monarchs in favor of exploring lower down the social scale, but for much of American history I’d argue that a traditional top-down model of scholarship has prevailed, with personal political beliefs about monarchical systems not conflicting with topics of interest. I don’t have statistics to support this feeling, but it seems to me that now many American historians are returning to the field of royal studies, but infusing it with more modern approaches (for example in the gender history seen in Theresa Earenfight’s studies of medieval queens).

Beth: For a country that rejected monarchy, a surprising number of its citizens dote on the British royal family and news about its members. Undergraduates will fill courses with monarchy or kings or queens in the title or course description. I think in terms of scholarship, it’s been more of mixed bag though for Graeco-Roman antiquity, particularly the Hellenistic period, there has been much more work in recent years and the growth in studies of ancient Persian monarchy has led to lots of interest in the cross-fertilization of monarchies and courts.

 

Cathleen: That does sound a lot like developments here in Europe, be it the turn from more non-elitist social history to cultural history focussing on underrated aspects, or the growing interest from students in Royal Studies. Personally, I blame The Tudors!

So, how does your work relate to all this? What are you working on right now?

Beth: I’ve got a contract with OUP for a book about Eurydice, mother of Philip II of Macedon and grandmother of Alexander—Eurydice and the Birth of Macedonian Power. It’s not so much a life as an examination of her historical but also her remembered and commemorated role in the growth of Macedonian power.

Caroline: Right now I’m taking a break from investigating the ladies-in-waiting who served late medieval queens of England to look lower down the social scale. I’m exploring the lesser status female servants who waited upon the medieval English aristocracy and I plan to present these findings at the Harlaxton Medieval Symposium in Harlaxton, England this coming July.  I hope that both avenues of research will produce a comprehensive book on the experiences of ladies-in-waiting throughout medieval England.

 

Cathleen: Wow, these topics really close research gaps on women and their influence to royal power. Since Eurydice as well as ladies-in-waiting/female servants are more or less marginalized by traditional historiography, how do you go about gathering this new research? Which sources do you turn to?

Beth: Well, in the case of Eurydice it is partly a question of asking new questions about existing evidence but also that new inscriptions involving her and a tomb some have attributed to her were discovered in the mid 1980s.

Tomb Eurydice
Possible tomb of Eurydice
© S. Drogou and C. Saatsoglou-Paliadeli, Vergina: Wandering through the Archaeological Site, 2nd ed. Athens

Caroline: I was surprised at how many ladies-in-waiting I’ve been able to uncover – my database includes nearly 800 female attendants from medieval England. But of course from medieval sources we learn very little about each specific woman, so I am building a prosopographical study. Sources include financial accounts that document annuities paid to long-serving servants or other rewards (such as a financial gift upon marriage), bequests made in wills, wardrobe records that list livery distributions, and (rare) references to female servants in the few surviving letter collections that we have from medieval England.

 

Cathleen: Back to the conference this April: what can we expect? Are any special events planned?

Caroline & Beth: We have planned a welcome reception for Friday night at the conference, but we will also try to make various kinds of entertainment and information about it accessible to participants. Ellie Woodacre has informed us that she has important information about prizes that will be made known then. We are hoping to provide a lot of informal networking opportunities and that participants can make and renew connections with fellow scholars at the coffee shops, wine bars, and restaurants that make Main Street a surprisingly lively place for such a small city. For example, on Thursday and Friday evenings there are free outdoor concerts a few blocks up the street from the conference venue and hotel at NOMA square (corner of Main St. and Beattie St).

Main St from Clemson ONEThe Main Street as seen from Clemson ONE
© Caroline Dunn

Cathleen: Looking out of my window at a stormy February afternoon, I do hope, the weather will enable the participants to really enjoy Main Street and the concerts! On this topic, could you please tell us a bit more about the city? What do participants of the conference absolutely have to bring and what do they have to see?

Caroline: Great question! Bring your hiking boots or bicycling attire if you like the outdoors and plan to spend an extra day. We are in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and surrounded by beautiful scenery – long and short hikes with waterfall views and mountain views abound. Greenville is also at the heat of the nationally-recognized Swamp Rabbit Trail – a 20 mile cycling (and jogging) trail that runs along a former railroad line and bicycles are available to hire throughout Greenville.

The weather is normally at its most glorious at this time of year – we are keeping our fingers crossed that participants will enjoy the outdoor piazzas in Greenville even if they’re not into hiking.

Bring an appetite – Greenville is a foodie town. Numerous restaurants provide traditional American fare, New South cuisine, and international options. Local breweries and distilleries serve craft beers and legal “moonshine.” We will be providing participants with a selected list of favorite options in the delegate packets.

Stock - Downtown imageDowntown

Beth: They absolutely should walk down to Falls Park, see Liberty Bridge and generally walk along the river. Enjoy the crowds and festive atmosphere in the streets on Friday and Saturday night. Greenville is a city that was once completely dead and has had a tremendous revival. It is often used as a model of redevelopment of city centers for other downtowns.

Stock - Liberty-BridgeLiberty Bridge

Weather in early April is unpredictable—google weather before you come, but usually it is coolish and pretty. The dogwoods might be out. I would suggest bringing some comfortable shoes, so you can walk or, if you like, rent a bike.

Cathleen: Thank you both so much for doing this interview! And hopefully lots of sunny weather, interesting discussions and in general a great time in April at the Kings & Queens 5 conference “Dynastic Loyalties”!

Caroline & Beth: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share this information, Cathleen!