Category Archives: Interviews

Kings & Queens 7 – Interview with Gabby Storey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interview with Catriona Murray, Winner of CCCU Book Prize

Dr Catriona Murray is a historian of early modern British visual and material culture from the University of Edinburgh. Her first monograph, Imaging Stuart Family Politics: Dynastic Crisis and Continuity, focuses on familial propaganda of the royal Stuarts. Her study has recently won the CCCU Book Prize from the Royal Studies Journal.  The team from the Royal Studies Journal Blog got together with her to learn more about this award-winning research, and what is next for Catriona.      

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: First of all, congratulations to you! Your first monograph, and already you’re winning prizes for it! We do hope you celebrated accordingly! Could you please tell our readers a bit about the premises of this study on visual and material propaganda under the Stuarts?

Image result for celebration

Catriona: Thank you! It really is an honour and I am very grateful to the book prize committee for their consideration. I think I can also confirm that at least one glass of fizz was consumed!

Imaging Stuart Family Politics grew out of my doctoral research and actually began life in response to a single engraving, which I came across in the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive in 2008. Printed in 1703, it displays oval portraits of four Protestant Princes, Edward VI; Henry, Prince of Wales; Henry, Duke of Gloucester; and William, Duke of Gloucester, with a banner proclaiming ‘Wee [sic] Reign in Heaven’. I was intrigued by the idea that, despite their premature deaths, these figures continued to hold some allure decades and even centuries after their loss. As I probed further, I discovered a series of reproductive failures and untimely young deaths which blighted the Stuart line. Despite this, I also unearthed a wealth of visual material which indicated the importance attached to these lost dynastic hopes. I have always been interested in history’s ‘what ifs’ and the tensions between representation and reality so part of the drive behind the project was to retrieve the reputations of those forgotten Stuarts.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: As you said, these members of the royal Stuarts were mostly forgotten, and – honestly – we don’t know much about them either. Could you therefore please give some brief background for the uninitiated about Henry (son of James VI/I), Henry of Gloucester (son of Charles I), James of Cambridge (son of James II), and William of Gloucester (son of Princess, later Queen, Anne)? Did the representation of these later-born or early deceased children differ in any way to the heirs apparent?

Catriona: Most importantly, all of the princes you mention were Protestant and the impacts of their deaths often became more pronounced as dissatisfaction with their successors developed. Henry, Duke of Gloucester, for example, died when he was twenty-one, just as the Stuarts were returning to power with the Restoration. Although, he was widely mourned at the time, it was not until several decades later, with increased concerns about the politics and religion of his brothers Charles II and James, Duke of York, that he was re-framed as a lost leader, a figure of vanished hope. Similarly, James, Duke of Cambridge, died when he was only three years old and yet some twenty years later his image still held resonance. Following the succession of his Catholic father, James II, and the failed rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth, Charles II’s illegitimate but Protestant son, a portrait of the long dead prince was commissioned by his sister, the future Mary II. Willem Wissing’s painting of the little Duke (the cover image of Catriona’s book) highlighted the extended absence of a Protestant male heir, presenting Mary as Britain’s next best hope. In life, representations of these princes were designed to encourage loyalty to the crown but, as time passed, they also assumed meanings beyond royal control. Their afterlives would prove controversial.

Adriaen Hanneman, Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1653), oil on canvas, 104.8 x 87cm, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: In the case of James, Duke of Cambridge, it was his sister Mary who used his image. Most of the other heirs were also quite young, and it seems striking that they are not portrayed in the family context. For example, it seems William of Gloucester was often represented without his mother, Princess Anne. During his life, was he “more important” than her?

Catriona: It is a little more complicated than that. Actually, for reasons of gender, it was unusual for English male heirs to be portrayed with their mothers so the images of Anne and William together which do exist actually reflect their combined significance to the Stuart succession. Certainly, William’s birth was a great boost to Anne’s position after the Glorious Revolution and her motherhood became a crucial part of her public image even after her son’s death. In turn, Anne’s part in the Revolution and her self-proclaimed Englishness were important for William’s portrayal. Together they represented a bright future for the Protestant Stuart line.


After Willem van de Passe, The Triumph of King James and his August Progeny (third state, c.1660), engraving, 32 x 38cm. 283000, Biographical History of England, extra-illustrated by Richard Bull, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: Following on from this, when it became apparent that the dynasty would pass on through the female line rather than the male line, the Stuart heirs like Mary of Orange or Sophia of Hanover were still pictured in their more traditional roles opposite men – as daughter, as consort or as mother. Are there any depictions of them in a more martial role or have they been associated with more manly and vigorous attributes? If not, why?

Catriona: Not really. There is a lost portrait of the sixteen-year-old Mary as Minerva but, generally, her depiction conforms to tradition, presenting her with reference to the men in her life. Similarly, Sophia is portrayed as a matriarch, the founder of a long line of future kings. The representation of Protestant piety is also central to both women’s public images. Given their rather conventional lives as royal women, this is not really surprising. Both Mary and Sophia were political pawns in the international marriage market and, upon their entry into wedlock, were supposed to secure the line and produce offspring. As heir to the throne, their representations continued to reflect those gendered expectations. This was an age when artists and patrons were predominantly male. Even images of Elizabeth I as heir subscribed to the conventions of female portraiture. Women’s agency and its portrayal had to be negotiated carefully.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: In your book you are saying that “the fine arts have often been viewed in isolation – both from popular and material culture and from contemporary political, religious and intellectual developments.” Yet, they are so interconnected. What do you think is the reason behind that separation?

Catriona: Firstly, study of the art of seventeenth-century Britain remains an emerging field and some of its most important scholarly contributions are now decades old. As a result, reassessments of the material and its literature have stalled. A traditional focus on connoisseurship, form and technique has prevailed until recently. Indeed, it has taken historians, such as Malcolm Smuts and Kevin Sharpe, to forge ahead and re-present the art history of early modern Britain as an interconnected cultural history. We need to value the – sometimes idiosyncratic – art of the seventeenth century as much for the stories it can tell as for its visual qualities. Steadily, historians and art historians are embracing this approach and producing works which demonstrate the pervasiveness of the visual as a complex social and political language during this time.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: So, after already winning a prize for your very first monograph – what can we expect next from you? Are you further working in the interdisciplinary field connecting art history and history?

Catriona: I am just beginning to get my teeth into a new monograph project which will explore the origins and development of public sculpture as an art of political communication in early modern Britain. Under the Stuart dynasty, monuments played a pivotal role in the negotiation of authority. The imposition of a royal sculptural presence, in strategically-selected urban locations, articulated the reach of royal dominion. In turn, though, sculptures became physical sites for public interventions, which both supported and contested Stuart government. Covering portrait busts, public statuary and tomb monuments, as well as temporary festival sculpture and ceremonial effigies, I hope this project will expose the complex processes through which the Stuart monumental image was both fashioned and dismantled, while exploring visual languages of power which are still contested today.


Arnold Quellin, James VI and I, 1686, lead, Glamis Castle, Glamis, Angus

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: We wish you the best for this new, exciting research project. Thank you for taking the time to show us this fascinating aspect of the Stuarts!

Interview with Jennifer Mara DeSilva

Jennifer Mara DeSilva is an Associate Professor of History at Ball State University (Indiana, USA). She has written several articles about the papal Masters of Ceremonies and edited collections examining the reformist behaviour of early modern bishops and the coercive process of sacralizing of space in the premodern world. 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. Please see our previous interview with Jennifer at https://royalstudiesjournal.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/interview-with-jennifer-mara-desilva/.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: Thank you so much for talking with us! So the canonical age for cardinals was 30, which many people probably find surprising in the premodern era – a lot of undergraduate students don’t necessarily think people in the past lived that long! Why was the age for appointment 30 and does that suggest anything about life expectancy?

Jennifer: Calculating life expectancy in the premodern world is problematic. The fact that so many people died as infants or children makes the mortality rate deceptive low. If a man lived past 20 years of age or a woman past successive childbeds, they were likely to live for many years more, barring falling victim to a disease epidemic. With that in mind, we should also remember that there were several canonical ages. The canonical age for becoming a cardinal or a bishop was thirty, which was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent (1545-63). However, the canonical age for other ecclesiastical offices – tonsured monk, deacon, priest – varied over time and according to the authority. Most likely this says more about the vision of man’s intellectual frailty and potential, than it does about how long people lived. Yet, even with these age thresholds articulated, we would be hard pressed to find a medieval or early modern depiction of a cardinal that was not modeled on a much older man. Indeed, many modern films use the same stereotype of bearded maturity, decades past thirty, when depicting the College of Cardinals. This suggests that canonical ages functioned as guidelines illustrating a hierarchy of offices and the need for experience-based wisdom in those office-holders.

The broad population that the premodern College of Cardinals embraced can be seen in two sixteenth-century portraits: An Unknown Young Cardinal by a follower of Titian (16th century), now at Petworth House, National Trust, UK and Titian’s Cardinal Pietro Bembo (Samuel H. Kress Collection, c.1540), at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. The unknown young cardinal is likely under the canonical age of thirty, while Pietro Bembo was about seventy when Titian painted his portrait, having been elevated to the College in 1539.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: Your article talks about the life stage adolescentia (14-28 years old). Is this life stage at all similar to that of today’s teenager?

Jennifer: Yes and no. In the premodern era, depending on one’s economic status, this phase could include years spent as an apprentice and journeyman worker, as a novice, or at university. By the age of 28 most men were still only approaching the point at which they could afford to start their own household, enter a guild as a master, or hold a civic or ecclesiastical office of power. In that sense adolescentia was a stage of continued dependence or training. This might seem similar to the lengthening period that today many people spend in post-graduate studies or research before landing a first full-time and permanent job in their chosen field. Of course, in contrast to this period’s characterization as “in-training,” financially, intellectually, and emotionally, teenagers today (13-19 years old) face the same stereotypes that Bernardino of Siena and Girolamo Savonarola identified in early modern adolescents. Some things have barely changed.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: How big was the College of Cardinals? One of the reform decrees the article quoted mentioned there shouldn’t be two men from the same mendicant order, which really seems to limit options!

Jennifer: Over the course of the fifteenth century the College of Cardinals grew. Although reform decrees limited the College to a maximum of twenty-six members, after the 1450s the population fluctuated between the high twenties and the low thirties. Through the 1500s the College continued to grow, reaching a maximal plateau of seventy members. In 1587 Pope Sixtus V reinforced this ceiling by decree and it continued until the late 1950s when Pope John XXIII and his successors allowed it to creep upwards. However, even by the late sixteenth century very little store was placed in the fifteenth-century limits, and the mendicant orders played a diminishing role in cardinals’ origins. Many men elevated to the cardinalate in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were secular canons who had held positions in the pope’s household or in the Curia.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: Your article mentions that the pope is often criticized for these under-aged cardinals but these youngsters are appointed anyway. Who was criticizing the pope for this? Protestants? Or the secular rulers who benefitted?

Jennifer: Secular rulers rarely suggested that fewer cardinals be appointed. Through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they were more concerned with balancing factions in the College of Cardinals between themselves. This was especially true of France and Spain. Nevertheless, criticism sprung from both Catholics and Protestants, as well as some members of the College of Cardinals. Tension existed between those who had been promoted before thirty years of age and those who sought the promotion of under-aged relatives, against outsiders who had either had no skin in the game (historians of deceased popes) or profited from highlighting continued Catholic abuses (Protestants).

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: How much resistance did popes offer to the appointment of under-aged cardinals? Did your research turn up any young cardinal candidates who were never appointed or were made to wait until after they turned 30 for papal appointment?

Jennifer: Each promotion occurred because of a distinct assortment of motives and pressures. In the same way that popes objected to adult candidates with unsuitable pasts, there is evidence of reluctance to elevate very young men to the College. In several instances adolescent or pre-adolescent nominees were required to wait several years before their promotion was publicized, during which time they were prohibited from assuming the office’s dress or title. In all cases, these nominees were members of ruling families that were important to the pope. While none of these men were forced to wait until they turned thirty, this practice suggests that there was a widespread acknowledgement that one could undermine the authority inherent in the office, if the nominee was too far from the canonical age.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: Why have historians been so attached to the idea that these under-age cardinals were the relatives of sitting popes rather than elites from Catholic states?

Jennifer: Into the twentieth century the papacy stood as an emblem of difference separating Catholicism from other Christian denominations, but also as an emblem of human invention and corruption. While denominational prejudice has largely left the discipline of History, centuries-old criticism that emphasized the pope’s autocratic rule and ability to create cardinals merged with disapproval of the swift social mobility that election to the papacy brought. The result was that papal nephews, sons, and grandsons, many of whom were underage, attracted so much attention and criticism that effectively they obscured the other men who profited in a similar but less conspicuous fashion. The under-aged papal kin provoked a far greater response than under-aged nobles, who traditionally were expected to compete for titles and wealth in a way that was unseemly for the relatives of a cleric.

Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena: Thank you again for you time and participation! What is next for you?

Jennifer: You are very welcome, Kristen, Cathleen, and Elena! This year I am one of the inaugural fellows of Ball State University’s Digital Scholarship Lab, where I am using timeline, mapping, and networking software to explore how Bolognese patricians competed for place and power. My current project is a digital study of how patrician families in Bologna, Italy, used offices, both ecclesiastical and lay, to compensate for limited access to executive civic authority. These tools offer exciting new insights and comparative opportunities for studying the past.

RSJ Prize for Articles and Book Chapters (CCCU-Prize)

Interview with Zita Rohr

Dr Zita Rohr is a member of the Royal Studies Network who is well known to participants of the Kings & Queens conference series. Aside from her research into medieval and late medieval queens and gender politics, she also coordinates the CCCU Article Prize for Early Career Researchers. We caught up with her to discuss the art of writing a prize-worthy research article!

Cathleen, Elena, Kristen: Hi Zita, and thanks for taking some time during the Australian summer to do this interview! First of all, could you please tell us a bit about the CCCU Article Prize in general? What are the conditions, who can submit, and so on?

Zita: My absolute pleasure, I am always happy and keen to sing the praises of this great initiative. Launched in June 2015, the RSJ Early Career and Post-graduate student prize is awarded annually to a current early career researcher for the best published or unpublished scholarly article-length work (approx. 5,000-10,000 words), which should be based on original research on any topic that falls within the scope of royal studies. The RSJ and the prize sponsor, Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU), are committed to assisting, encouraging, and supporting the career development of early career and young researchers in a highly competitive professional research environment.

Entrants for the Prize must be current Early Career Researchers. Early Career Researchers (ECR) are researchers who are within 5 years of the start of their research careers when they submit their applications. The applicant must be working towards or have a PhD or equivalent research doctorate, awarded within the last 5 years.  At the time of application, applicants must not be in a tenured or permanent academic position.  Entrants may make only one submission to the Prize per calendar year.  Contributions will be accepted on a year-round basis, with a submission deadline of 1 March 2018. The judging panel looks for exceptional research, and the ability to communicate it, emerging from early career stage scholars.

Cathleen, Elena, Kristen: Speaking from our own experiences, all early career researchers, two of us non-native English speakers, it is quite challenging to write an article. One has to figure out the overall argument, connect the case study to method and theory, discuss literature, think about audience and style, struggle with unwritten rules of academic presentation, and so on. What advice could you give researchers on how to approach such a project?

Zita: From personal experience, I would observe that, in the process of pulling together doctoral research, many interesting possibilities for further consideration/emphasis emerge – which may, or may not, have to do with the task at hand. The article format (5,000-10,000) words is an excellent framework within which to explore such possibilities. We are all very pressed for time, particularly during the earliest stages of our academic careers, yet if one can find the time and the inspiration to explore a particularly tasty morsel of research – or a truly innovative finding, I think that a well-framed article, or scholarly book chapter is a great way to unpick ideas and communicate innovation. So, what advice might I give – advice that has been extended to me by my own generous scholarly mentors, collaborators and good friends? Here is a quick and dirty list which might be worth considering:

  • Have a clear question, idea, great finding to which you seek to respond/communicate.
  • Be able articulate your methodology and argument with clarity and concision. Be precise in your thinking, and in communicating your thoughts. Think Hemingway rather than Proust.
  • Edit sober. By this I guess Papa Hemingway meant that we should hone our prose, and be ruthless with our cuts – not merely to keep the word count down, but moreover to achieve beautiful, simple (but not simplistic) communication.
  • Do not assume that your reader is an expert in your field – but likewise do not go overboard in your efforts to backfill.
  • This is perhaps the hardest: show your writing to as many people as you can corner, who are willing and able to make objective comments and suggestions. Climb out of your silo – it is sometimes our harshest critics who will give us the most honest appraisal of our work. This hurts – I know from very personal experience – but once one gets over the hurt feelings and has a good hard look at both the work in question and the criticism of it, the work improves. I am still learning about my writing. The more of it one does, the better and stronger it becomes.

 

Cathleen, Elena, Kristen: Conventions are very different, already between the UK, US, and Australia (never mind, in other languages, disciplines, and traditions). How can prospective writers deal with this?

Zita: We accept articles and scholarly book chapters for consideration in languages other than English. I always seek out native, or near native speakers, for these who likewise are specialists in the field of the particular research under consideration for the prize. Each submission is allocated a minimum of two specialist external readers who comment upon and grade the submissions according to specific and uniform criteria. Regarding conventions, we do not expect contributors to alter the way they structure their submissions – consistency is the key.

Cathleen, Elena, Kristen: One of the most difficult questions is always the one which sources to use. It can become very complicated, also from a financial point of view, to always get access to the original sources or the original quote. How important is it for an ambitious young scholar to always be on track of the “original” or “best” source?

Zita: On this, I am pretty much in lock-step with our man Erasmus, “Sed in primis ad fontes ipsos properandum” (Above all, one must hasten to the sources themselves). I realize that this is not always possible, or even feasible – living down here in the antipodes, Australian scholars of the pre-modern and early modern European world have a particularly hard time of it. That said, with increasing digitization of primary material, things are getting much easier and it behoves scholars (ECR and established) to persist and dig down into them. Interlibrary loans and electronic databases are invaluable aids to current research undertaking – as are digitally-connected networks of scholars and academics. There is nothing worse than reading books and articles that seem to rely only upon ‘edited highlights’ drawn from the research of other scholars. But, all of this takes time, and lots of it. When I think of the amount of excavating and reading I was obliged to do to unearth the life and deeds of Yolande of Aragon from original and secondary sources, my head fairly spins. That said, I still think that the ad fontes approach is still the best and most reliable method for getting at the ‘truth’.

Cathleen, Elena, Kristen: There is a lot of sensational or pseudo-scientific literature around that is often frowned upon but sometimes offers an interesting point of thought or simply a chance to compare. Can you give us any advice on how to make the leap and use such sources without risking the quality of our scientific work?

Zita: My suggested strategy would be to engage with such source material, ideas, and points of view as and when appropriate, but I am quite leery of hybridizing or over-popularizing academic research. There are many other fora where this approach might be considered; magazine articles, blogs, chat rooms etcetera. I am a bit old-school, I like to keep the standards high in scholarly undertaking and writing. With so much information out there these days, it is very easy to muddy the waters with unsubstantiated thought-bubbling that is not sufficiently backed up with hard scholarly evidence.

Cathleen, Elena, Kristen: Could you tell us a bit more about the side of the judges for the CCCU Prize? What are the criteria, and what are the most critical points?

Zita: There is a jury made up of three judges, who make the final call on the award of the prize. In order to be able to do this disinterestedly, and for us to be equipped with the very best advice, each submission is allocated at least two external readers in a double-blind review process. The jury looks for rigorous, exceptional, original research, and convincing results expressed in clear and effective prose.

The external readers are asked to make comments that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the submission under review, and to make a recommendation as to the submission’s worthiness for the consideration of the award. The external readers are also asked to score the submissions in three categories viz. Originality and Depth of Research; Analysis and Argument; and Presentation and Clarity. The data are then collated for careful consideration and comparison by the three-member jury who will come to a definitive collegial decision. Should the readers indicate that none of the submissions meet the criteria for exceptionality, and the jury agrees, or if insufficient submissions are received, then the prize will not be awarded. This was the case for the 2017 campaign.

In closing, I wish to reiterate that we should call upon our wider networks to publicize this important prize. The exceptional work of post-graduate and early career researchers needs support and encouragement, and we need their fresh insights and ideas if we are to continue our work in promoting the importance of royal studies and the nurturing of new talent in the field.

Cathleen, Elena, Kristen: Zita, Thank you very much for giving us (and prospective early career article writers) some insights into the CCCU Prize.

Zita: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss this important initiative.

Are you interested in submitting your research for the RSJ – ECR Article/Book Chapter Prize, or the RSJ – Boook Prize, both sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU)? Check out all information here, the guidelines, and the nomination forms for the Article and Book Prizes.
The next deadline for submission is March 1, 2018. Good luck!

 

 

Kings & Queens VI in Madrid: Interview with Rocío Martínez López

Readers with a good memory might remember Rocío Martínez López from our earlier interview on her winning the first Essay Prize of the Royal Studies Journal. She is also one of the main organizers of the next Kings & Queens VI Conference at Madrid in September 2017, and will tell us a bit more about what we can expect from the first Kings& Queens Conference in Spain. Please make sure to include #KQ6 on social media, and follow the conference on the same hashtag if you cannot be there!

Cathleen & Kristen: Hi Rocío! Great to have you here again, Rocío, establishing somewhat of a continuity and hopefully showing our readers the people behind the Royal Studies Journal, the Royal Studies Network, and the conference series Kings & Queens. First, the conference is now “on tour” for the third year in a row (before going back home to Winchester next year, and then again going to Sicily). Could you tell us a bit more about how the conference came to Madrid, Spain?

Rocío: Thanks to you, Cathleen and Kristen. The work you do with the blog and other activities for the Royal Studies Network is truly remarkable. Well, regarding your question, I went to the Kings and Queens series’ congresses that were wonderfully organized in Winchester and Lisbon in the past few years, although, unfortunately, I couldn’t be in Clemson for its last edition. I found myself amazed by the concept of Royal Studies when I went to my first congress in Winchester as well as by the depth of the discussions, the variety of topics and the great expertise showed by the researchers that were present there. I thought that Spain and Spanish scholars have much to offer to this field, as there has been a great development of several lines of research linked to the Royal Studies in the last few years, but that their work were not very well known by the English-speaking experts I met in both congresses and that there should be a way to give their work more exposure in an English-speaking, international context. Likewise, I noticed that the Royal Studied Network wasn’t very well known in Spain, where a great deal of people interested in this kind of studies right now might be interested in joining. I really thought that the contact between the Royal Studies Network and its members, and the flourishing Spanish royal scholars would be enormously helpful for both parts, so to host one of the Kings & Queens congresses in Madrid would be a wonderful way to bring them all together. I talked to Ellie Woodacre about this possibility around three years ago and asked her if she had thought about the possibility of bringing the congress to Madrid sometime in the future, and she showed a great enthusiasm for the idea. At first, I just wanted to bring Kings & Queens to Madrid, and I didn’t think I could have been the chosen one to make this wish come true. I really thought they would choose someone with more experience. But Ellie, who has always showed great support for young career scholars, trusted us with this task and the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), has been always wonderfully supportive with this whole project. So, three years and the support of a lot of wonderful people after, Kings & Queens 6 is just a couple of days away!

Cathleen & Kristen: The organisation of such a conference is always a difficult matter with a lot of coordination, planning, and stressing out over problems going on. Could you tell us a bit more about how you are doing it in Madrid this year, e.g. who else is in the organisation committee, or how you divided all the work?

Rocío: Of course. Organizing the congress of this size is always a challenge. At first, we didn’t expect to host so many people and were working with a number of attendants closer to the ones who went to Winchester and Portugal. But we ended up receiving about 170 paper proposals from all over the world! The real preparation began more than a year and half ago when the project was officially presented in the Department of Early Modern History of the UNED, and they gave us not only their blessing, but their whole support. The institutional support given to us from the UNED was outstanding and we are very grateful for it. The number of people who could collaborate with us was a little small and all had their own research and teaching responsibilities, so the organization was quite a challenge. Also, one of our principal concerns was money. A congress this size is an important investment and we needed to know we would be able to back up financially all our promises. We also wanted to try to get some additional funding to help young historians or early career experts without a fixed post to come to Madrid, as to come to this kind of meetings is also very challenging economically for young historians and a lot of great new researchers haven’t been able to travel to big congresses like this one for economic reasons. We wanted to do our best to help and thanks to the UNED and the work of my co-organizer, Antonio José Rodríguez Hernández, we could obtain a grant which gave us the funds to organize the congress. Through the aforementioned grant, the UNED allowed us to offer 42 grants for young historians from around the world, to be able to organize the congress without having to impose a registration fee and to subsidise the outings. Without the UNED’s support, that would have been impossible to achieve. Once the economic part was settled, the real work began. We drafted the Call for Papers and began to receive proposals almost immediately. They were evaluated by two different experts from our Committee linked to the specific discipline of each proposal. Also, we began to work to organize all kinds of things that were needed for the congress, from the organization of the outings to El Escorial and the Prado Museum to contingencies as the reservation of the rooms for the congress, to the preparation of materials and the crafting of materials (just the bio & abstracts document is several hundreds of pages long). At the same time, we have tried to attend questions and petitions of our attendees to the best of our ability. All of this while we also attended to our other obligations in the university which, especially in certain times of the year, are enormously demanding. As none of us were devoted only to the organization of the congress and everyone had their own obligations to deal with, everyone in the committee took responsibility of the things they could do at the time and we are grateful for the help of lots of people. Besides Antonio José and me, the help of Luis Ribot, José Antonio Vigara Zafra, Ellie Woodacre, Julio Arroyo Vozmediano, Cristina Agüero, Ana Echevarría, Diana Carrió, Jitske Jasperse, Maria de la Cruz Carlos Varona, José María Iñurritegui, Marcela Miranda, Sergio Gutiérrez, Anabel del Prado, José Luis Sancho, Almudena Pérez de Tudela, Antonio Rubio Sánchez and many, many more was invaluable. A lot of people showed us support in concrete matters in all this time and we are very grateful to them, too. I especially want to thank Patrimonio Nacional and Museo del Prado, who offered us all the help we requested to organize the outings. And I apologize if I forgot someone!


El Escorial (top) and Prado (bottom)

Cathleen & Kristen: That does sound like we can expect one of the biggest Kings & Queens Conference to date, and thank you for spending so much time on this, and making sure, we will feel welcome!

Another topic: Can you tell us a bit more about the state of research in Royal Studies in Spain? From the outside, it looks like a very central topic with lots of interesting stuff being done on medieval king- and queenship, and of course on the Habsburg studies. Also, how does being a modern monarchy reflect on this field?

Rocío: That is a very interesting question. As I appointed before, the royal studies are flourishing in Spain. I can safely say that the royal studies in Spain are trending right now. In different Spanish universities and research groups, we find great works focused on different aspects of royal studies. For example, in the Department of Early Modern History of the UNED we have some of the leading experts in the study of seventeenth century Europe, like Luis Ribot, Juan Antonio Sánchez Belén, José María Iñurritegui and Antonio José Rodríguez Hernández, who had made great advances in the knowledge and research of this period in the fields of political, military and diplomatic history. This last aspect, as well as others like the representation of power, royal propaganda and the relationship between nobility, royalty and art is also well represented in our Department of History of Art, with experts like the aforementioned José Antonio Vigara, Diana Carrió and young researcher Cristina Agüero. Some of these topics are also present in our Department of Medieval History, to which the member of our organization Ana Echeverría also belongs. In the University Rey Juan Carlos, there is currently a great and very interesting project focused on Royal Sites and its varied functions, composed by experts like José Eloy Hortal, Félix Labrador Arroyo, Koldo Trápaga and Gijs Verstegeen, who are going to present a panel in the congress and they are also going to present the latest developments of the project they are working on aided by the latest technological advances. Also, the Autonoma University is doing a great work in the field, with experts like Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño, who is going to give the closing lecture, and the activities and projects linked to the Instituto Universitario “La Corte en Europa” (IULCE), whose new director, Manuel Rivero Rodríguez, is also going to be with us, as well as other members, like Javier Revilla Canora. In addition, we will have with us experts from the Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) of Spain, like Rubén González Cuerva, who has recently published a book with Brill about court factions in Early Modern Europe’s court which is very promising. And, to connect with your last question, last but not in any way least we have the Complutense University, which is going to be very well represented by several of their leading researchers, like the vice rector David Alonso. From said university, we are going to be able to listen to some remarkable experts in Medieval, History of Art and Early Modern History, but we also count with a very interesting panel focused in Contemporary royal history leaded by Raquel Sánchez. Royal Contemporary History  (meaning their study from Isabel II and Alfonso XII’s reigns onwards) as such weren’t a big line of research in Spain until recent years and its study was relatively limited to royal biographies, law and constitutional history and works of political history that, in most cases, weren’t focused on topics related to royal history and this approach was just a little part of a bigger idea, like the works related to the evolution of the Spanish political and constitutional system from Franco’s dictatorship to democracy, for example. But this is slowly changing and we hope that his congress can be a way to show this change. Other Spanish institutions, like the University of Barcelona, of Zaragoza, of Valencia or of Valladolid, amongst others, are also well represented in this congress. To sum up, we have representative of many of the leading research institutions of Spain and we hope our initial intention, which was to give exposure in an international setting to the leading Spanish research institutions and their researchers and forge a successful relationship between said Spanish researchers and the people linked to the Royal Studies Network, will come true.

Cathleen & Kristen: So, in the conference next week: what can we expect? What is planned, and what should we absolutely not miss when visiting Madrid? Also, could you please tell us a bit how you planned panels and breaks, and what you hope this conference achieves?

Rocío: We have a lot of plans for the congress and we hope for the attendees to enjoy it. We hope to go further than the papers themselves, and for it to be a way for scholars of different parts of the world, who seldom have the opportunity to meet, to exchange points of view, information and projects and maybe for it to be the beginning of a lasting relationship between scholars of different institutions, countries and research interest. I would like to highlight three points that we have worked a lot to bring to reality: firstly, for all the attendees to enjoy the possibility of hear papers of great quality from some of the most important and most interesting researchers  of the whole world, and for it to become a meeting place for hearing of the most innovative trends followed by different countries and universities, interact with researchers of different backgrounds and interests and exchange ideas, information and even plans for future projects and publications. In the second place, we expect for it to be a way to showcase all the possibilities that Spain has to offer in the field of royal studies, both with the presence in the congress of members of the leading Spanish universities and with the presentation of projects, future publications and collaboration that could spark our attendees’ interests. And, in third place, we also intend for it to be a way for young or early career scholars to present their current work in an international setting. Both the Royal Studies Network and the UNED are institutions who are trying very hard to promote young talents and help gifted young scholars to begin and develop their research careers. We hope for this conference to be a way to help them to thrive in their fields of choosing and meet older, more experience scholar who could assist them in the future, at the same time they reward us with new, exciting views, theories and investigations. All of these will be achieved not only through the panels and sessions given, but also with the other activities we planned for the congress, with two exciting guided visits to the great Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real de El Escorial and the Prado Museum and other activities in the congress, like the presentation of the exciting project about royal sites lead by the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos which uses the latest advance of technology to recreate and study the Spanish Royal Sites, and a meeting with the Royal Studies Journal’s leading members that will talk to those who are interested about their international publication and how they can become members of their staff, amongst other activities. All of this and much more will take place in during the congress, under the umbrella and support of the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED).


Impressions of Madrid

Cathleen & Kristen: Thanks for doing this interview! Is there anything you’d like to add?

Rocío: Just that we really hope that all our attendees enjoy the congress and the activities related to it and that we hope it becomes a milestone in the field of royal history. Also, we hope it is the beginning of many projects, publications and collaborations in the future. And, also, to say that all the members of the organization have worked hard and without stop for months to bring this congress to reality, so I hope everybody enjoys it and can forgive any human error we can commit. We are doing our best and we hope we all have a great experience at Kings and Queens 6!

We hope to see you in Madrid – bring sunglasses, comfortable shoes, great ideas, and share with us your experiences under #KQ6!

Conference Report and Interview Realms of Royalty

Imke Polland and Christina Jordan have just organized the successful conference on Realms of Royalty (20/21 April 2017) in Gießen, Germany, which questioned the role of royalty and monarchy in today’s societies. Bringing Royal Studies to the modern day is also part of their on-going doctoral research on Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee as Staged Media Events: A Case Study in the Production of Collective Memories (Christina), and Plurimedial Representations of the British Royal Weddings 2005 and 2011 as Ritual Media Events (Imke). We caught up with them to learn more about the discussion of the conference (see conference report by Max Bergmann here), and their research on modern monarchy.

Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you for doing this interview! To start, could you please tell our readers a bit about the conference, and how it started?

Christina and Imke: Right from the outset of doing research on contemporary monarchies, we noticed a significant lack of scholarly attention to this topic, as most studies dealing with royalty pursue historical research interests. Monarchies post WWII are usually only treated marginally at conferences and there are very few publications dedicated to researching their contemporary representations and standing in society. We think that current monarchies pose special challenges to researchers, which differ from the demands that historical research on monarchies has to face. Their role as post-political institutions[1] and their adaptation to ever-changing media environments turns them into a dynamic and rich object of research, which requires interdisciplinary analytical perspectives. Monarchies offer many starting points for exploring aspects that are of crucial interest to scholarly fields as varied as cultural, media and literary studies as well as sociology, law, political and economic science. The conference’s aim was to further this interdisciplinary dialogue on contemporary monarchies by raising questions such as, how do monarchies adapt to change, reinvent themselves and navigate between past, present and future to ensure the continuity of the institution? What are the possibilities of contemporary monarchies facing the loss of (political) importance, power, space, relevance, and popularity? How are the relevance and the roles of these seemingly anachronistic institutions negotiated? Where does the perpetual interest in monarchies stem from? During the two days of the conference we discussed, among many other topics, the role of contemporary European monarchies in national and transnational contexts, the British monarchy’s post-war public relations strategies, royal representations in (fictional) media products (such as radio broadcasts, TV series, and films) and (re-)appropriations of monarchical symbols in popular cultural contexts such as wrestling, comics, or alternative music.

Cathleen and Kristen: The conference was not only focused on European monarchy but also colonialism, transnationalism, and the global entanglements of royalty, maybe discussed most prominently by Cindy McCreery. Could you tell us a bit more about this? Are modern monarchies by definition more of a global actor?

Christina and Imke: European monarchies have been global actors for a long time. The most prominent and obvious example might be the role of the British or Spanish Crown within their respective Empires. As Cindy McCreery showed at our conference, when discussing ways in which royalty matters to people overseas, monarchy and imperialism are intricately entwined. She argued for a research on monarchies that extends the gaze to the view on royalty from abroad.

With the end of Empires, the role of monarchies has, however, not been diminished. Processes of decolonisation resulted in an increasing mobility of members of the European royal families that still continues today. The royal tours are a striking example of how people and royals interact. These tours work as a stage on which not only the monarch can be displayed and paraded, but they also allow for local responses. A recent example is constituted by the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Germany in July 2017, during which they intended to “reinforce the strong and wide-ranging ties between Britain and Germany”and thus acted as cultural ambassadors – especially in the face of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

Because of the increasing relevance of social media as well as recent celebrations of royal events as global media events, contemporary monarchies are definitely increasingly globally engaged. The global popularity of, especially, the British monarchy goes hand in hand with their high degree of visibility and availability in global consumer culture (only think of various films, documentaries, TV series etc. produced about the British royal family in recent years). At the same time, however, one has to emphasize the ongoing importance of monarchies as national icons.


Impressions from Realms of Royalty

Cathleen and Kristen: One of the core themes of the conference (and both your theses) is the use of media by royal dynasties which is also one emphasis in medieval and early modern royal studies – do you see any changes compared to the use of media in pre-modern times, or more of a continuity?

Christina and Imke: We are convinced that monarchies undergo processes of change and self-fashioning while at the same emphasising and drawing on their own constancy. The use of media is essential for conveying these (self-)images. Traditional forms of media usage for the distribution of images, e.g. painted portraits or the likeness of the monarch on coins, persist and are complemented by new and digital media uses as monarchies and their public relations offices have to adapt to new media environments. Monarchies always exploit the media, which are both available and popular at the respective time. Although John Plunkett (2003) termed Queen Victoria the first “media monarch”, earlier monarchs can also be viewed as media monarchs. A prime example is Queen Elizabeth I whose portraits were both censored and widely circulated. When celebrity culture developed and the collection of memorabilia became popular in the 19th century, new forms of distributing royal images, e.g. the cartes de visite, emerged. These cartes opened up a whole new way of personal engagement with royal images, as they depicted less formal moments than former portraiture, thus inviting emotional reactions. These kinds of depictions were sold in large numbers and were collected and highly valued by their gatherers.

As Deirdre Gilfedder and Ed Owens mentioned in their conference presentations, in the 1930s and 1940s, radio was a popular medium to address the public, e.g. during war speeches and the inception of the famous Christmas broadcasts. In 1953, the coronation of Elizabeth II was the first royal media event broadcast on TV. The medial omnipresence of monarchies still seems to increase steadily. Nowadays, monarchies permeate people’s lives not only in the (yellow) press and on TV, but they also make use of social media channels and networks – on 24 October 2014, Elizabeth II sent her first Tweet. The British royal family embraces the possibilities offered by new media and actively participates in the digital world via various Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr accounts.

Cathleen and Kristen: Everything to do with royal families, esp. the British one, is today being commercialized. How important is this commercialisation, and does it work only (or foremost) on a national scale, or even in an international market?

Christina and Imke: Commercialisation plays a very important role for contemporary monarchy. When looking at the British monarchy in particular, one can say that the whole institution is ‘managed’ as a global brand that caters to consumer demands and has to be beneficially and strategically placed on the market to be successful. Recent studies (especially Balmer 2011, Otnes/Maclaran 2015) have analysed this brand management and the role that the British monarchy plays in global consumer culture. There has also been an increase in societal pressure for the monarchy to actively and significantly contribute to the British economy. In this sense, former political pressures have yielded to commercial (and media) interests.

Understanding the British monarchy in marketing terms, Pauline Maclaran has suggested, means conceptualising it as a brand complex, involving different brand components, which speak to and potentially enhance the consumer’s (emotional) bonds to the brand. She explained that these different components are the global brand, the human brand, the family brand, the heritage brand, and the luxury brand, which all cater for different consumer demands and, thus, make the royal family brand complex so successful.

The monarchy can be consumed in various ways: There are a great variety of popular cultural products like books, films and TV series. Royal media events and memorabilia produced on the occasion of these events offer forms of interaction and participation. The monarchy also makes available touristic experiences, e.g. by opening state apartments and palaces to visitors. Furthermore, granting royal warrants for products supplied to royal family members is a long-established practice of royal engagement in commercial activities. Several members of the royal family have also created consumer brands, such as Duchy Originals, the organic food brand selling local products established by the Prince of Wales, or companies protecting the personal brand and intellectual property rights of royal family members, like the ones William and Catherine created. The Royal Collection Trust, which manages the royal collections and the opening of the palaces as well as the production of merchandise, is one key company involved in making the monarchy available for consumption. In her lecture, Pauline Maclaran pointed out the interesting paradox of ‘accessible mystique’ which results from the PR efforts of the monarchy. The royal family has to provide previously unavailable levels of access in order to engage in these marketing activities, while at the same time retaining an upmarket appeal and sustaining narratives of the institution’s past and present mystique. Even though the prime market for the consumption of the royal family brand concentrates on the national context, it is important to consider global dimensions, for example concerning tourist experiences and souvenirs or royal media events and memorabilia.

Cathleen and Kristen: What were your impressions of the discussions on the conference? Which new directions in research were emphasized, and how do they fit into the wider field of contemporary history?

Christina and Imke: The conference presentations and discussions showed clearly that the changes monarchies have undergone in the past century and that they are still undergoing are mirrored in changing interests and perspectives of research on these monarchies. Two major aspects were emphasised recurrently in the course of the conference: Firstly, the impact that monarchies have on people’s everyday lives has changed from political decision making to an omnipresence of sovereigns and monarchical topics in popular cultural contexts, ranging from films and TV series to exhibitions of royal dresses and even wrestling. Consequently, these new “realms of royalty” deserve scholarly attention and promise valuable insights beyond historical perspectives. Secondly, the increasing importance of emotional connections between monarchy and the people was highlighted. Ed Owens discussed efforts to redefine the monarchy’s place in the nation and to endear the royals to their subjects by strategic media usage and the formation of a new royal public language throughout WWII. Very recent developments include the propagation of narratives on the side of the monarchy that suggest accessibility and middle-class values and thus serves to enable the people to emotionally connect to members of the institution, e.g. when Princes William and Harry openly discussed their psychological struggles dealing with the early death of their mother in a video available on various online platforms in April 2017.

The most productive aspect of the conference, we find, was the interdisciplinary exchange, which linked diachronic perspectives with synchronic, and national with transnational ones, thus providing new insights on European monarchies as the common object of research. In this way, the conference explored monarchies beyond historical perspectives and succeeded in its endeavour to discuss, evaluate and make sense of the cultural phenomena that contemporary monarchies confront us with. By looking at the present state of monarchies as a space of negotiation, we were able to map out and open up new perspectives and understandings of the domains of royal studies that focus on contemporary transnational interactions.

Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you for these insights into your conference! Now, finally, could you tell us a bit more about your own research, and how royal studies fit into this?

Christina and Imke: We are both doing research on media events of the British monarchy that took place in the new millennium – the latest royal weddings and Elizabeth II’s crown jubilees. Our research continues traditional strands in the study of (modern) monarchies, e.g. by focussing on ceremonial events following David Cannadine’s seminal work on the re-invention of the British monarchy. Central for our research are media-related aspects, such as the analysis of TV broadcasts of the events and the medial prelude and aftermath of the events in the press. We hope to add to existing research on monarchies and answer to a recent surge in royal studies by bringing in new theoretical perspectives, first and foremost from the fields of narratology, cultural memory studies and the study of media events, and by analysing recent developments that have barely been in the focus of scholarly attention so far.

Cathleen and Kristen: Thank you both so much, and good luck with your research!

[1] Cf. Higson, Andrew. (2016) “From political power to the power of image: contemporary ‘British’ cinema and the nation’s monarchs.” In: Merck, Mandy (ed.). The British monarchy on screen. Manchester University Press, 339-362, here: 360.

Interview with Alexander Brondarbit

Alexander Brondarbit is an Academic Planning Analyst at UC Santa Cruz and Instructor for the E-Campus at Oregon State University. His research focuses on the high and local politics of late medieval England with particular emphasis on the Wars of the Roses.  His teaching interests include the history of high and late medieval Europe, the Church in the Middle Ages, and medieval sex, gender, and culture.  You can read his article in the
Royal Studies Journal, Issue 6 here.

Kristen and Cathleen: What is a signet warrant? How does it differ from other types of documents?

The signet warrant was a means of connecting the king with the ordinary operations of his government. It was produced by the third type of writing office which arose after the other two writing offices (e.g., the chancery and privy seal office) had left the royal household to be housed permanently in Westminster. This change had occurred by reason of the high workload of those offices and the sheer volume of letters that were being produced. Obviously, the king was not always in Westminster and still needed a means of transmitting his will on official business regardless of his location. The signet office was thus formed in the early fourteenth century to meet this demand.

It differed from the Westminster offices in several ways. It was much smaller, less bureaucratic, and less solemn than the chancery. The signet was kept by the king’s secretary who was often a clerk based about the king’s person rather than say a bishop with public duties like the chancellor. A particularly interesting difference is the suspicion that often arose over the use of the signet. Initially used sparingly, the signet was seen as a method by which Richard II abused his royal prerogative as he bypassed the privy seal office in warranting the issue of letters under the great seal. The signet seal disappeared for a time when the Lords Appellant were victorious in 1388, yet it eventually reemerged in a more muted fashion afterwards as it definitely had its uses despite the concern it engendered.

 Kristen and Cathleen: Had scholars largely ignored this document before, aside from including it in histories of Eton?

I’d say many scholars do seem to have been unaware of it. The Duke of York’s signet letter was first examined by the English historian and archivist, Sir Henry Maxwell-Lyte in his A History of Eton College produced in 1875. Aside from some minor errors in his transcription, Maxwell-Lyte also did not fully appreciate the significance of the document as he focused entirely with the Yorkist regime’s treatment of Eton. This emphasis has been replicated by later historians of the college as one might expect as they were not as interested in what the document told us about this critical, and somewhat opaque, stage of the Wars of the Roses. Cora Scofield did quote a snippet of the signet warrant in her biography of Edward IV, but she relied on Maxwell-Lyte’s book and it is doubtful she ever consulted the record in person. The same goes for Charles Ross’s biography which quotes an even briefer portion of the document without any citation suggesting again that he may have been repeating the quote from Scofield’s work. I believe what we have here is a case of a great document that was known in the late nineteenth century, but sadly was forgotten except by historians of Eton College.

ECR 39 124

ECR 39/124. Reproduced by permission of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College.

Kristen and Cathleen: Briefly, what happened to Eton under the Yorkist kings?

Edward ultimately proved vindictive toward Lancastrian institutions in the early years of his reign. It was hardly impolitic to do so given that he still did not have full control of his own realm and a constant reminder of his more scholarly predecessor whom many still believed to be the rightful king could not have been a welcome proposition. This is all the more likely given the high survival rate of propaganda that attests to Edward’s right to rule. After he became king, Edward commanded King’s College Cambridge to pay its revenues to the exchequer and many of its estates were resumed in 1461. Eton received an even harsher sentence as Edward considered suppressing the college and annexing it into St George’s Chapel at Windsor. That Edward was committed to this course of action is without doubt as he secured a bull from Pope Pius II authorizing the abolition of the college in 1463 and we see this order taking effect two years later when its moveable goods (furniture, jewels, bells, clothing etc.) were removed to Windsor. Many of Eton’s original endowments were lost to resumption as the king dispersed the lands to his supporters. The impact of this initial royal policy is quite evident in the sharp decline of revenue as the annual income fell to a mere £321 at its lowest point in 1466-7. This is quite a fall as Eton received an average annual income of £1,200 under Henry VI. The diminished income prevented operations from continuing at Eton although the provost remained living on site.

For reasons unknown, Edward softened his stance toward Eton after 1467. At the king’s request, Pope Paul II revoked the bull annexing the college to Windsor. The tale that the school was saved by the charms of Edward’s mistress, Jane Shore, is an amusing one that even the college enjoys telling today, but there is no evidence to support this. I find the timing quite surprising given that the Lancastrian threat was far from over at this stage of the reign.

Unfortunately, Richard III’s attitude toward Eton is difficult to determine. The lone account roll for his reign does show that the college’s revenue had improved to an annual income of £565 in 1483-4, but this was largely by the minor grants Edward allowed the college in the latter half of his reign. If Richard harbored plans for Eton (which I doubt he did) they were never realized by the time he was killed at Bosworth Field.

Kristen and Cathleen: Was Edward taking advantage of Provost Westbury or was it just good politics?

Largely strapped for cash, Edward was certainly pressing his advantage here as he was raising funds to pay the troops needed for his campaign against the Lancastrian army in the north. This exchange with Eton was simply one avenue at his disposal to get the resources he needed, but it was merely a drop in the bucket. The bulk of money the Yorkists acquired came from London; within a few days of his reign Edward and his allies had received some £8,700 from the city dating back to the prior year. It is also worth noting that the quid pro quo arrangement between Edward and Provost Westbury was far from unique, particularly in the opening days of his fledgling regime. In 1461, Winchester College presented gifts to earn an exemption to the act of resumption in the king’s first parliament. In that same year, Canterbury paid nearly £300 to the king for a charter granting perpetual county status to the city and confirming its pre-existing civic liberties. Had Eton not been so closely associated with the House of Lancaster it is much more likely Edward would have kept his promises to protect the institution.

Kristen and Cathleen: Is this part of a larger project? What are you up to next?

At present, I am currently reshaping my thesis into what I hope will be my first monograph. My book will examine the Yorkist political power-brokers in operation in the reigns of Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III. Power is its major theme as I utilized records held throughout several local archives in addition to the national archive in order to develop a picture of how the politically active men and women mediated and expressed royal power. So often historians make the determination of influence by listing the patronage one acquired from the Crown. I sought to bring in other avenues by which to see their influence at work both at court and in the shires.