Category Archives: The Making of a Journal

An Interview with Amy Saunders

Amy Saunders is a PhD Candidate at the University of Winchester and has held various visitor experience roles at museums including the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Museums Sheffield. Amy’s current research explores sexuality and gender in relation to the seventeenth century Stuart monarchy.

RSJ Blog: I very much enjoyed your recent RSJ article, The Afterlife of Christina of Sweden: Gender and Sexuality in Heritage and Fiction. What drew you to this particular monarch, and what inspired you to examine her portrayal in modern film, fiction, and heritage?

Amy: Before starting my Undergraduate degree at The University of Winchester I read Karen Maitland’s historical fictional novel, Company of Lairs. Set in the fourteenth century this was the first historical fiction book I read which contained LGBTQ+ characters but wasn’t set in ancient Greece or Rome. I was spellbound by the narrative and it got me thinking about how we present sexuality in historical fiction. When we were asked to choose a topic for our Undergraduate dissertations, I knew immediately that I wanted to do something in this area. I went to my personal tutor, Ellie Woodacre, knowing what I wanted to explore but with had no idea where to start. I knew there was work around the sexuality of James VI & I and Henri III but if I was going to do a comparative study of early modern monarchs, I wanted to include a woman. Ellie immediately suggested Christina. I looked at fictional literature and film as there were several depictions to explore for each monarch. The heritage aspect came in later. During my first weeks at the V&A I realized that there was a print of Christina’s funeral in the European Galleries. I was so thrilled and every time an interested visitor came into the gallery, I would show them the print. It is so unassuming next to one of the huge Ommegang paintings (another great display of female power) and in the same gallery as an amazing Bernini sculpture (Christina was one of his patrons so this felt particularly relevant). Investigating the other objects in the gallery I began to see that there was a whole narrative there about female power, patronage and religion which I could share with visitors. Label texts have limited scope and the one which accompanied the print didn’t mention Christina’s sexuality or gender and this got me thinking about how we present sexuality and gender in heritage spaces. Even now when I go to the museum as a researcher or visitor, I always stop by to say hello to Christina.

Sébastien Bourdon, Christina of Sweden, 1653.

RSJ Blog: Imagine you are in charge of an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert museum on Christina. Without having to consider funding, how will you present the queen? What are the chief aspects of her life that you will highlight in the inscriptions? How will you market the exhibit to tourism groups, particularly those from the LGBTQ+ community?

Amy: If money and object loans were no object there are so many things I would want to include. Generally, I prefer a thematic exhibition, but I think organizing it chronologically might be more effective in this case. I would want it to cover all of her life and interests, and it would place her conversion within the wider context of the religious conflict taking place in seventeenth century Europe. This would really highlight how dramatic and high profile her conversion actually was. It would explore Christina’s childhood, and look at how she was affected by the narrative around her birth and the death of her father. Major focuses would also include her abdication and her life afterwards in Rome. The fictional representations end at her abdication or at her acceptance into Rome so it would be great to explore Christina beyond this. These fictional representations would also have a place in the exhibition, probably at the end, with montages from the three films. Christina was a great patron and collector of art. In Rome she created a room called the ‘Room of the Muses’ which contained statues that had been discovered at Hadrian’s Villa. The room had yellow marble columns and as the ninth muse was missing, Christina had her own throne installed in the space, placing her opposite Apollo. These statues are now in the Prado in Madrid, so if we could reconstruct that room that would be amazing. If this exhibition was to take place, the Prado would be the perfect partner as their collection also contains the wonderful equestrian portrait Christina sent to Philip IV of Spain. Christina’s coronation robes also still exist in Sweden so those would be a stunning edition to the exhibition. I think in terms of the interpretation text, the main thing would be to ensure that Christina’s gender and sexuality was openly included and discussed instead of marginalized or ignored. The V&A has a huge social media following and there is a very active LGBTQ+ community which engages with museums across the UK and shares events and exhibitions that explore LGBTQ+ narratives, which would help massively with advertising the exhibition. I would also want to create a program of events which coincided with the exhibition, which could range from talks and tours to film screenings and interviews with those involved in the production of these representations.

RSJ Blog: Why, do you think, it is that women are less included in examples of LGBTQ+ historical figures than their male counterparts in heritage collections? What about film and literature? I have seen countless depictions of Edward II of England’s sexuality, which is generally assumed to be homosexual, but, as you describe, the two films that tell Christina’s story choose to focus only on a heterosexual portrayal!

Amy: In terms of Christina and film, there are two films which present her as having heterosexual relationships and then there’s the most recent one directed by Mika Kaurismäki that explores her love for Ebba Sparre. In all of these depictions Christina’s relationships are ultimately unsuccessful whether due to an untimely death or because of the duties and expectations placed on her partners. In terms of the male homosexuality being more present within heritage sites, there could be a number of reasons for this. In Britain, homosexual acts between men were illegal until 1967, and even after this the age of consent was higher for same-sex male couples than it was for heterosexual couples. Women’s sexuality was discussed less, and it was believed that lesbianism was much less widespread. In this context highlighting male homosexual relationships in heritage spaces can be seen within a frame of rebellion, free speech and as supporting LGBTQ+ political movements. Not that long ago these narratives would have reflected illegal relationships, whereas now they can be freely discussed, celebrated, and openly identified with by members of the audience. I think this male homosexual focus will slowly start to shift as more LGBTQ+ histories are researched and presented to new audiences. The recent success of BBC series Gentleman Jack has increased visitors to Shibden Hall, the Yorkshire home of Anne Lister and her wife Ann Walker, by over 300%, showing the impact that uncovering and presenting LGBTQ+ narratives can have on heritage sites and their visitors. In terms of the ‘prescribed set’ that I discussed within the article being largely male, many people are already familiar with ancient Greek and Roman homosexual relationships, for example Achilles and Patroclus (the subject of Madeline Millers fantastic fictional book The Song of Achilles) and the Emperor Hadrian and his partner Antinous. This latter pair are found in almost every museum LGBTQ+ trail, suggesting that heritage sites feel that they are integral to exploring LGBTQ+ narratives within museum spaces. Moving forward into the late 19th century, you’ve got artists and literary heroes such as Oscar Wilde who have become iconic LGBTQ+ figures. I think LGBTQ+ figures like Wilde and Hadrian have become an expected part of the LGBTQ+ historical narrative and that their homosexuality has become a commonly discussed aspect of their lives. Their presence in tours and talks at heritage sites can be used to attract visitors and audiences who need some sort of familiarity to encourage their interest. Through these initial, commonly known narratives, heritage sites can then introduce these visitors to less well-known LGBTQ+ histories.

RSJ Blog: What is next for you? Will you continue to explore Christina?

Amy: I’m currently focusing on my PhD which looks at James VI & I, Anna of Denmark, Charles I, Henrietta Maria, Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, and how the sexual activities and perceived masculinity of the husbands affected their wives. Part of this will also examine how these figures are presented in heritage and will explore what factors cause them to be overlooked. If I’m fortunate enough to remain in academia after completing my PhD I would love to teach about Christina and share her fascinating history with other people. If any situation arises in which I can work, write and talk about her with other people I certainly will! Christina was buried in the Vatican and I’ve now dragged and encouraged countless people to go see her and think about why she’s there. I’ve never visited Sweden, so in terms of Christina that’s probably the next big thing!

RSJ Blog: Thanks so much, Amy, for sharing your research with us. We look forward to reading your upcoming work in the near future!


Interview with Ray Ball

Rachael (Ray) Ball became an Associate Professor of History at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2012 after having taught at Kenyon College and Minnesota State University. Her research interests largely focus on the intersections of political culture and popular culture in early modern Spain and its empire. She is the author of Treating the Public: Charitable Theater and Civic Health in the Early Modern Atlantic World. When not in the classroom or the archives, she enjoys running, hiking, cooking, and traveling. Dr. Ball also recently had a chapbook of history-themed poems published by Louisiana Literature Press. For the Royal Studies Journal, Rachael has written a fascinating article titled Court Cities Celebrate Prince Baltasar Carlos: Loyalty, Status, and Identity in the Early Modern Spanish World.

RSJ Blog: Good day Rachael and thank you for making time to do this interview with us!

Rachael: Thank you so much for inviting me to participate!

RSJ Blog: You have done a fascinating study on the procedures of royal festivities respecting their impact on the various regions of the realm and the different parts of society. Is there any particular reason for picking the celebrations honoring the birth of prince Baltasar Carlos as an example?

Rachael: In the past I had written about the Spanish monarchy from the perspective of statecraft and comporting oneself as a ruler and about the regulation of performances and theater. My second bookTreating the Public examined the rapid development of early modern Spanish theater and its integration into urban daily life that stemmed in part from its relationships to hospitals, orphanages, and municipal governments. I had come to that project initially through a comparative examination of antitheatrical sentiment and long-term closures of playhouses in Spain and England during the 1640s. One of the previous interpretations of the closure of the Spanish theaters that my research complicated was that Spain closed its playhouses in 1646 to mourn the death of Prince Baltasar Carlos.

At that point, I realized that aside from articles by art historians focusing on Velazquez’s paintings of the prince, not a whole lot had been written about Baltasar Carlos. So I started keeping a file for a future project. Then in the summer of 2014 when I was wrapping up some final research for Treating the Publicin Spain, the abdication of Juan Carlos I and the coronation of Felipe VI took place, and there were processions and crowds and parties. Even though I don’t consider myself to be particularly pro-monarchy, I became much more interested in studying its ceremonial elements in the early modern period. This article is the direct result of that.

RSJ Blog: You have shown that the celebrations honoring the birth of Hapsburg crown princes were embedded in a very extensive dynastic propaganda. Could you tell us if certain rituals changed after the Spanish Hapsburgs were substituted by the House of Bourbon? Did the imperial Hapsburg family follow similar traditions in the rest of the Holy Roman Empire after the loss of the Spanish possessions?

Rachael: These are great questions! It would probably take a full article to do them justice, but I’ll take a stab at answering them briefly. In short, during the seventeenth century the Bourbons celebrated similar events in pretty similar ways. For example, when the future Louis XIV arrived “miraculously” after so many years without an heir to the French throne, subjects throughout France celebrated with bonfires and banquets. The protocols for triumphal entries in the Spanish world were quite similar to the entries that took place at other European courts. With the change of dynasty, some of the protocols that governed events did change, as did political and constitutional structures. For instance, under the Bourbons the independence of the queen’s household eventually ended. On top of that, the Bourbon era in Spain coincided with reformist tendencies that decried luxury and expenditure and bemoaned the loss of economic productivity that resulted from frequent feast days and celebrations.

I am not an expert in the Austrian Hapsburg practices after the War of Spanish Succession. However, my understanding is that the protocols that had emerged in Spain largely continued to be followed during ceremonies and state events. Irene Kubiska has argued that birth and baptism celebrations became more militaristic in symbology and tone over the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

RSJ Blog: One of the passages that fascinated me most was when you talked about how the different ethnic groups in Lima used the celebrations to demonstrate their distinction from each other especially the mulattos who wanted to stand out from the black population. Why was that so important to them and what was the relationship between those two groups and the Spanish ruling class? Did the latter differentiate between them at all?

Rachael: There were a multitude of factors at play here. One was the very real competition that drove many guilds and confraternities, as well as city governments, into chronic debt for these types of festivals as well as annual ones for religious celebrations like Corpus Christi. That being said, it seems to me, that there is an emerging element of colorism here, too.

Race is and was culturally and socially constructed, and there are plenty of examples from the archives of people emphasizing one aspect of their heritage versus another depending on circumstance and location. Joanne Rappaport’s book The Disappearing Mestizois a recent work that unpacks some of the complexities of this issue. Antonio Feros has recently written about the development of ideologies of race and identity and early modern Spain, and his analysis shows just how much debate there was among theorists and administrators.

Yet, scholars, like Geraldine Heng, have also uncovered evidence of the ways premodern people depicted racialized bodies. I would argue Carvajal’s account of the Lima festivals demonstrates that some differentiation could and did occur. He compared black people to crocodiles and caimans and called them ugly. It is only begrudgingly that he accorded them any humanity and only after some of Lima’s black inhabitants went to great lengths to display their loyalty to the Spanish crown. With the mixed-race confraternity I write about in the article, he begrudgingly noted that they exceed his expectations. At the same time, he claimed their successes stemmed from their European lineage.

a table depicting the caste system according to ethnical classification in Spanish ruled America (anonymous 18th century) Museo Nacional del Virreinato, Tepotzotlán (Mexico)

RSJ Blog: You also point out the dark side of such celebrations for instance that criminals often used the disarray to their advantage. At the same time, you mention chronicles that purposefully avoided drawing too much attention to that particular matter. Were there any records discussing possible solutions: for instance, special security matters? Were the public executions during the celebrations not also a very ostentatious warning assuring that people, while enjoying the festivities, did not forget who held authority over them?

Rachael: Occasionally, you can catch glimpses of the protocols and regulations that had been established for demarcating space during events like these through contracts and payments that often show up in municipal archives rather than in official accounts meant for commemoration. At times, though, the less poetic authors of accounts reflect indirectly on some of these realities as well by mentioning palisades or the presence of guards. I definitely wouldn’t dispute that executions and the performance of piety during autos de fewere reminders of the power of ecclesiastical and civil institutions. This was a way to align expressions of local justice with a celebration of monarchy. Some scholars have even talked about how religion and secular authority merged with public spectacle creating “a theater state.” At the same time, these types of categories do have their limits. Absolutists never had as much power as they wanted, and the very criminality that was punished so publicly speaks to the limits of power.

RSJ Blog: Thank you very much for these interesting answers. What are your upcoming projects?

Rachael: I’m currently working on an essay that examines the relationship between performance and poor relief through both official and semi-official channels. In that way, I’m continuing work on festivals and performance in the early modern Spanish world. I’m also in the midst of writing a dual biography of the Duke and Duchess of Osuna.

RSJ Blog: Then we wish you good luck with your new project and are looking forward to reading more from you soon!

Interview with Glenn Richardson

The King, the Cardinal-Legate, and the Field of Cloth of Gold

Glenn Richardson is Professor of Early Modern History at St. Mary’s University, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and an Honorary Fellow of the Historical Association. He specializes in the history of Tudor England and its political and cultural relations with Renaissance Europe. He has published extensively on the topic and is currently working on a biography of Cardinal Wolsey. We caught up with him to discuss his article for the Royal Studies Journal, “The King, the Cardinal-Legate and the Field of Cloth of Gold” in the special issue on Renaissance Cardinals which he edited.

RSJ Blog: Good day Prof. Richardson and thank you for taking some time to do this interview!

You have written a very interesting article on one of the most fascinating characters of Tudor England. Thomas Wolsey came from a common family, and advanced to the second-highest position in the kingdom by his clerical career. Was this still a common occurrence in the early modern period, or was Wolsey indeed a huge exception? Was the promotion of “new men” perhaps a characteristic of the Tudor era, given the political background of the War of the Roses, the new dynasty and the lack of trust for old families?

Glenn: The early years of Henry VIII up to the period with the break with Rome were still very much dominated by the clerical estate. Many of the king’s leading counsellors and opinion-formers were senior clerics, like Fox, Warham, and Ruthall who (unlike many of their French or Spanish or German counterparts) were from gentry or commoner backgrounds. It was into this clerical establishment that Wolsey himself was first drawn through the patronage of Fox. His background was therefore not perhaps as exceptional as might first be thought, but his meteoric and stratospheric rise certainly was. The first two Tudor kings did directly or indirectly, bring into royal service numbers of ‘new men’ with backgrounds in law and the emerging humanities rather than theology and church administration, based on their competence and capacity for work – and Wolsey was certainly one of those.

Banner of Cardinal Wolsey

RSJ Blog: And Wolsey had indeed done the king many services but it seems that Henry’s desired annulment of his first marriage became the cardinal’s Achilles heel. He appears ambitious but also very calculating, a man who knew well what and whom he was dealing with. Would you say that it was basically an unfortunate accumulation of circumstances that brought him down or did he overreach himself in the eyes of Henry VIII?

Glenn: It is true that Wolsey had made his entire career by giving the king what he wanted. He was able to give Henry a high international profile by means other than warfare for a long time but that tied his fortunes very tightly to the uncertain world of European politics. Had the Sack of Rome by Charles V’s rebellious troops in April-May 1527 not happened, it is possible that Pope Clement VII might have granted Henry the annulment of his marriage that he sought, but dependent as he was on the protection of Charles for his own and Florentine family’s interests, Clement was not going to do anything to bite the hand that might yet feed him – whatever the theological arguments for annulment Henry mounted. Wolsey was quite conventional, if imaginative, in his thinking and made strenuous efforts to secure his aim through all kinds of channels and suggested ways forward but, yes, an accumulation of adverse circumstances prevented him from doing all he might have done to achieve his aim. The failure of the Blackfriars’ legatine court and the signing at the same time of the Peace of Ladies between Charles V and Francis I, left Henry without the annulment he had sought and isolated in Europe. It finally undermined his confidence in Wolsey.

RSJ Blog: You argue convincingly that Wolsey’s loyalty lay with the king’s interests much more than with the church’s, but how were those loyalties perceived towards the end of his career and afterwards? Was he perhaps even accused of being a papal spy and was his deposition partly a statement to the pope?

Pope Leo X (right) with Cardinal Giulio de Medici (left)

Glenn Richardson: Wolsey was never in favour of the king’s divorce, a fact which he asked Henry to acknowledge publicly at the Blackfriars’ trial. This was in answer to allegations that he had somehow sought to bring a divorce about. In 1529, Wolsey was caught between a king in whose interests he had largely run the Church in England (through his legatine powers), and the papacy that had granted him those powers but for whom he had in fact done comparatively little. He fell only because he could not, for once, give the king all that he wanted.  I don’t think there was any suggestion that Wolsey was acting as the pope’s ‘agent’ in preventing the legatine court arriving at a decision favourable to Henry (although his fellow legate Campeggio almost certainly was). Subsequently, as part of the posthumous vilification of him by the chronicler Edward Hall and others, Wolsey was portrayed as both a papal dogsbody, and a man with an overweening ambition for the papal crown himself. Neither allegation can really be substantiated.

RSJ Blog: How then, was Wolsey perceived in Vatican City and how were the events you described in your article received there?

Glenn Richardson: The events which led to the creation of the Treaty of Universal Peace in 1518 and the Field of Cloth of Gold two years later were well reported and understood in Rome. Leo X had papal legates in England and France and the German lands for the negotiation of what he had intended as a truce between Christian princes and which Wolsey converted into an international non-aggression pact apparently sponsored by Henry but organized entirely by himself. They reported back to Leo regularly. There were French, Imperial and Venetian ambassadors at the English court, and in Rome, who (for their own varied interests) kept the pope well informed about Wolsey’s status and reputation in England and he was perceived rightly, if regretfully, as the key to Henry himself. Wolsey was seen as ambitious for England, pompous and difficult to deal with but impossible to ignore – so a mix of threats and inducements of various kinds were offered. The key to Wolsey in turn, was his desire for permanent legatine status in England. This, Leo was reluctant to give because he had no confidence that such an appointment would make Wolsey work more for him than for his king. He was right to be cautious.

Close up from the Field of Cloth of Gold ©Kent Rawlinson

RSJ Blog: So the pope was indeed suspicious of Wolsey. At the same time he could not openly act against the peace alliances because it would have made him look hypocritical. Did he perhaps try to undermine them in any other way?

Glenn: There was little trust between Leo X and Wolsey and the pope constantly sought to undermine Wolsey’s ‘universal peace’ of 1518, in which he had no more than a walk-on role, by trying to get Henry to ally with Charles V against Francis I of France. Even as Henry and Francis met at the Field, Leo was in effect promising to make Wolsey a legate for life (something Wolsey very much wanted) if he could bring about an anti-French alliance, in order to force Francis to relinquish his hold on Milan. In the end this did come about in 1521, but that was because by then Wolsey and Henry had finally recognized that for all the talk of Henry’s being the ‘arbiter’ of Christendom, war between Francis and Charles was all but inevitable and Henry had to be kept on the likely winning side. So Leo got what he wanted (without having to grant Wolsey lifetime legatine status) and was comprehended in the anti-French alliance in November 1521. Even then Wolsey made clear that it would be Henry who determined the timetable for action against France, not Leo.

RSJ Blog: Your analysis show that Wolsey was a very complex character. It must be difficult to do him justice on screen. Yet, Wolsey has been depicted quite a lot recently in historical dramas like “Tudors” and “Wolf Hall”. What do you think of these portrayals?

Glenn: Wolsey is such a difficult character to portray. All the contemporary, or near contemporary, descriptions we have of him emphasize his arrogance, his pomposity and bombast, his cleverness, and his ambitiousness and this has given the lead to actors for generations. Many sources also acknowledge, however, his personal charm and sense of humour (especially for Henry VIII), his eloquence, his capacity for imaginative diplomacy, his considerable administrative competence, a desire to see the kingdom of England well governed, and his enormous appetite for sheer hard work. No recent portrayal captures the balance of these aspects of his personality very well, and having Sam Neil’s Wolsey in The Tudors cut his own throat in despair was just stupid. In my opinion the one portrayal than comes closest to capturing the many varied aspects of Wolsey’s personality and his role as Henry’s chief advisor is Anthony Quale’s subtle and highly nuanced performance in the 1969 film Anne of the Thousand Days.

RSJ Blog: Richard Burton did quite a nice job as well in this movie playing Henry VIII. You also compiled an issue on Cardinals for the Royal Studies Journal. Could you please tell us a bit more about the role of cardinals at courts, in government, and within royal society?

Glenn: I have long found Cardinals an interesting group of people and historical subject in themselves, particularly those of the Renaissance period and after. They, more than other senior clerics, embody the close connections between Church and State, belief and politics in the early-modern period. I suppose my interest in them derives from that in monarchy and royal courts. They were at once enigmatic and impressive creatures, the electors of the popes who were the spiritual monarchs of Christendom, sometimes for the better and very often for the worse. After all one had to be a cardinal to be a pope and the papal Curia was, arguably, Christian Europe’s earliest and most complex royal court. I find their roles at Rome and in their home kingdoms, principalities and republics as agents of the papal rule interesting insofar as they always had to face in two directions, towards the papacy as its chief advisors, agents and representatives, ‘the princes of the Church’, but also back towards their own families as the majority in this period were of noble blood (and not a few from royal lines). Royal authority and papal authority had ideally to work in tandem, at least until the Reformation, and yet frequently did not do so very well at all. No two cardinals resolved the inherent contradictions of their ‘Janus-like’ position in quite the same way. Those kinds of questions and considerations were very much at the heart of the 2015 conference on them as ‘diplomats and patrons’ in relation to monarchs, which prompted the current issue.

RSJ Blog: Thank you very much for answering our questions and giving us a deeper insight into the subject! We are looking forward to reading your biography on Cardinal Wolsey. Apart from the book, what are your next projects?

Glenn: I have a number of things that I have been tinkering away at for some time to complete including an article on an oration delivered by the University of Paris to Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII, when she married Louis XII of France in 1514. It is a very arcane speech but interesting on showing how a French academic can be nice about England (and to an English woman) when he needs to be! I have a study of leading courtiers of Francis I of France les gentilshommes de la chambre du roi, to complete, making comparisons with the courtiers of Henry VIII. I am working on an article about Sir William Fitzwilliam, one of Henry VIII’s leading courtiers and am also pursuing my research into masculinity and kingship in the early-modern period. The 500th anniversary of the Field of Cloth of Gold is coming up in 2020 and I am working with the Historic Royal Palaces agency in Britain and several TV production companies on exhibitions and possible collaborations to mark that event.

RSJ Blog: These sound like some ambitious and interesting projects. We wish you good luck with your endeavors!

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey


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 Philippa Woodcock

“Living like a king? The entourage of Odet de Foix, vicomte de Lautrec, governor of Milan”

Niki: Thanks for doing an interview with us! to begin, how did you get interested in history? especially the period you specialize in?

Philippa: Thank you, I’m flattered to be asked. It is entirely my mother’s fault that I became a historian. She read historical novels non-stop (Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond and Niccolo novels especially) and had the portraits of the six wives of Henry VIII above her bath (but not Henry VIII). Anne Boleyn was a clear favourite, but I always preferred Katherine Parr (ah, the admiral!)

Niki: Your latest article contribution to the RSNJ is fascinating. Is this a subject you’ve been studying for years?

Philippa: Thank you. The article is a bit of an aside to my PhD which I finished in 2006 and, to my shame have still to publish. I ended up studying French Milan thanks to my supervisor, Evelyn Welch, who advised me to work in very quiet archives – Milan, Mantua, Cremona etc – rather than Florence.  When I started researching the de Foix family’s role in Milan, I realised that studying the governors would also give me an excuse to do research in Pau and Tarbes….

Each time I go to a new archive I always make a quick sweep of terms relating to French Milan before starting my other research. There’s a lot of unpublished material out there, even though Italian and French scholars have really revived interest in this period in the last twenty years.

Niki: What went into the research for this article?

Philippa: A long process and lots of travel! This article’s origins are in the Kings and Queens 3 conference in Winchester in July 2014. I remembered a contemporary Venetian observer remarking that Lautrec always maintained and fed a certain number of liveried servants and followers, so my contribution developed from that. Whilst teaching for Warwick in Venice I had the absolute luxury of being able to spend some time in the archivio di stato, where some references survive to the gifts given to Lautrec and his cronies by the Republic. I then gave the adapted paper at a researchconvegno, and was given some leads for future work from Italian scholars. Finally, when I submitted the article to the RSJ I got some really useful feedback about new research and publications that I had missed. This iterative editorial process is so important to ensure that work is representative of the state of scholarship, as well as including original archival research.

Niki: Was there anything that surprised you when conducting your research?

Philippa: I’m afraid that I get carried away in the archives and go off on tangents. I knew from Sanudo that Lautrec and Gritti had a difficult relationship, so I looked through the draft despatches of the Senate for 1515-20. I came across some lovely nuggets about provisions being made for Andrea Gritti to travel by litter on campaign, rather than horseback, owing to his age. This meets the idea of Venetian gerontocracy, but somehow goes against the idea of Gritti ‘man of action’. I was also interested to see how many references were made to the scars on Lautrec’s face which seemed to have affected his sinuses and made it necessary for him to frequently hawk up phlegm. He even adopted the panther as his emblem for it too had a ‘savage visage’.

Niki: Thanks again for letting us interview you! One last question: what are you working on next?

Philippa: Lots of things. I get distracted easily! I am working with my friend and former colleague, Matthias Range, to publish our post-doctoral work on Reformation rural religion, exploring the daily religious experience in isolated Catholic and Lutheran parishes. However, my main project (going slowly at present) concerns the experience of French mariners in the Venetian Stato da Mar. I have lots of juicy French complaints about the Venetians seizing French goods on rather flimsy pretexts. I aim to match this with Venetian enquiries into ‘misconduct’ and pre-consular diplomatic activity. I’ve looked at this in Paris, but I need to get down to Marseille. And one day, I will publish my PhD in some form or another….

Interview with chief copy editor, Jitske Jasperse

Dr. Jitske Jasperse is a medievalist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in Royal Studies, gender history and with a focus on the 12th century. In her PhD The Many Faces of Duchess Matilda. Matronage, Motherhood and Mediation in the Twelfth Century she showed the sphere of influence of a royal woman by analysing her cultural patronage. In 2016 she will continue her research on medieval noblewomen in relation to coins and seals at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid.

Jitske was also one of the founding members of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Amsterdam and is involved with the medieval network CARMEN. In addition to all that, she is the chief copyeditor of the Royal Studies Journal, and has agreed to tell us a bit more about her work and research.

Cathleen: Thank you, Jitske, for doing this interview. First of all, could you tell us a bit more about what a copyeditor does?

Jitske: Copyediting is an exciting and challenging task, because you need to analyse the articles and reviews in a formal way – checking spelling, style, punctuation – without getting carried away by the content and the author’s argument. The copyeditors use a stylesheet – which is the author stylesheet that can also be found on the RSJ website – to check whether the authors overlooked elements in style and spelling and to make the overall style in the journal as coherent as possible.

Screenshot StyleguideSnippet of the stylesheet

In order to do so the copyeditors use the famous ‘track changes’ and ‘new comment’ buttons, so that the author of the article or review is able to see what the copyeditor has changed or suggested. While a copyeditor’s main task is to detect style- and spelling mistakes, occasionally he or she will also ask the author to clarify sentences.

Cathleen: How does this work fit into the general process of making the Royal Studies Journal? When do authors interact with you?

Jitske: Of course copyediting isn’t the first step. A lot of work on the articles and reviews has already been done by the section-editors and review-editors who support the authors. Together with the layout team the copyeditors are part of the production team. The copyeditors are there to track and change the final errors that have been overlooked by the author.

01 example of copyedit comments in reviewExample of copyedit comments

Of course you need to read the content of text, but you also have to look at the text as a text searching for double spacing, odd quotations marks and forgotten International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN). Yet, the final work is done by the layout team, who has the big and laborious task to make the journal visually coherent. As copyeditors we try – and sometimes fail – to make their lives easier by trying to deliver flawless texts.

Cathleen: That sounds like quite a task! Especially since there are so many different styles of writing, or come to think of it, also of spelling. Maybe the easier question first: is the journal published in British or American English (or another kind)? And the slightly more difficult question: what do you look for in writing styles besides clarity? Are there some general rules you could give us and the prospective authors of the journal?

Jitske: Yes well, to make it slightly more challenging, although we prefer articles in English we also accept them in foreign languages. This makes it even more difficult to come up with a stylesheet that tackles all issues. We have, for example, debated the spelling of names in reviews and articles. In our stylesheet we point out that foreign names should not be anglicised. Yet some foreign name are so common in English, such as Frederick Barbarossa, that it feels a bit to odd to change this to Friedrich Barbarossa. In any case, our point of departure is the style guide by Modern Humanities Research Association, which uses a UK spelling. Alternative spellings, such as American, are accepted, but they should be consistent throughout the article.

This brings me to the second part of your question: rules related to writing style. This is a really tricky matter, because style is not just a matter of following the rules of grammar, it also something really personal. The use of commas is one example. Some people prefer to use comma each time you feel there’s a pause in a sentence when you read it out loud. But others just don’t like this because you can end up with too many commas in one sentence.
In general I would suggest the use of active instead of passive. And I would also recommend that authors or their editors contact their copyeditor in an early stage if they have doubts about style matters. We can then advice the author or editor in an early stage and he or she can make alterations before the copyeditor makes the first copyedit.

Cathleen: There is a quite a team of copyeditors at the journal. Could you tell us a bit more about how you organise the work, e.g. how you decide whom to give an article to copyedit? Or, are there more than one round of copyediting?

Jitske: At the moment we have a team of about 22 copyeditors. Their specialities range from Anglo-Saxon England to eighteenth-century Italy, including history, art and architectural history and literature. Together the team covers eight languages. The copyeditors receive the piece they need to copyedit through the online Open Journal System used by the Royal Studies Journal. I try to match the topic of an article or review to the copyeditor’s interests, although this is not always possible.
After the author’s document is uploaded, the copyeditors make their first corrections. They then upload these so that the author can rework his or her article or review and publish it again in the system. The copyeditor then does the final check. So author and copyeditor use the online system to communicate with each other.

02 example of system used by copyeditors and authorsExample of Royal Studies Journal-system used by copyeditors and authors

Cathleen: Thank you, Jitske, for this insight into the copyediting process.
Dear reader, leave us a comment if you have further questions about this!

Besides copyediting for the journal, you are also involved in quite some other projects. Could you tell us a bit more about these, e.g. CARMEN and the project New Interpretations on the Angevin World?

Jitske: CARMEN is an international network for medievalists and organizes an annual meeting in different places around Europe in September. These meetings focus on a theme, often connected to current research interests or (European) funding opportunities. Our 2015-meeting was in Sarajevo and the theme was ‘Memory and Identity’. The idea of CARMEN is that people gather to present and exchange ideas and research and join forces when applying for funding. Two of CARMEN’s successes are the ESF project ‘Saints’ cults’ and the ESF-funded exploratory workshop on Creative Cities. I myself also benefitted from CARMEN, because it was there that I met Therese Martin in 2012. She was in the midst of her European Research Grant project on medieval women as makers of medieval art and architecture. With her support I applied for a two-year postdoctoral grant at the Juan de la Cierva Formacion, which was awarded to me to do research at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid. By the way, our 2016-meeting will be held in Essen (Germany). So take a look on our website and join us!

I am also involved in Stephen Church’s project on the Angevin Empire, which is funded by The Leverhulme Trust. This international research networks studies the phenomenon of empire through the prism of the medieval Angevin Empire. I will focus on gift-giving and gift-exchange between the Angevin court and that of the Holy Roman Empire: who are involved, how do the participants style and perceive themselves and others, are the gifts gendered, and is the notion of empire part of gift-giving and gift-exchange? I am excited to conduct this research and to find out what my colleagues are doing. For those eager to find out more, please read Stephen Church’s article ‘Was there an Angevin Empire?

Cathleen: That does sound promising! So, how does your research fit into this all? What are you focussing on right now?

Jitske: Well, I already mentioned the grant I received to do research in Madrid. Although I still need to figure out the details of my research, I will certainly be working on medieval noblewomen, including some Castilian queens. Leonor of Castile was the sister of Duchess Matilda, the woman who inspired my research on medieval women. This research also included twelfth-century coins on which women were depicted. I think that we can learn more about the way coins and seals were used and how they functioned in medieval society by including women. Also, a study of these objects’ iconography and legends can inform us about women’s positions, their dynastic policies and family ties.

Cathleen: I certainly agree with you on that; numismatics is a bit underrated in Royal Studies, although coins and seals are such interesting and widespread sources of representation.

Finally as a last question: is there anything you like to add for authors dealing with copyeditors?

Jitske: Of course I hope authors keep sending us their material. But please check the stylesheet, which you can find online, as thoroughly as possible in order to avoid unnecessary inconsistencies. It’s also a good idea to read through some older reviews and articles to see what the RSJ style looks like.

Cathleen: Thank you so much for doing this interview!

Interview with Dr. Sara Wolfson

Niki: Hi Sara! Thanks so much for doing this interview. To begin with, how did you get interested in your specialization? Is this something that struck your interest at a young age?

Sara: During my undergraduate studies, I was always interested in gender history, but my primary interest was the court of Charles I, particularly the politics of the 1630s. When I was researching my undergraduate dissertation on the king’s personal rule in Durham, I was surprised at how little Caroline court women appeared in the general histories of the period. This was something that I hoped to address at postgraduate level.

Niki: Is there something particularly interesting about Queen Henrietta Maria and her court that led your research to be focused on that particular time in British history?

Sara: I found S.R. Gardiner’s assertion that Henrietta Maria was a ‘gay butterfly’ at odds with work that I was reading during my doctorate by Caroline Hibbard, Malcolm Smuts, Erica Veevers, and Karen Britland, which showed that the queen was a woman of political, cultural, and religious acumen. I was particularly interested in the practicalities of a mixed marriage in seventeenth century England. For instance, how Henrietta Maria’s Catholicism shaped the ceremonial culture of the Caroline court, but also helped to further the exchange of confessional ideas by the 1630s. Of course, it goes without saying that Charles I’s reign is a period of intense historical interest with his early wars with Spain and France; the king’s personal rule; his relations with parliament; the civil wars; and the aftermath of his execution. I wanted to understand how early modern women at the apex of society negotiated the position of themselves and their families during this time, above all during the post-1642 period.

Niki: If you can, how would you best describe Queen Henrietta Maria’s character?

Sara: Steadfast, loyal and vivacious.

Niki: Do you think aristocratic women and their role in politics has been largely ignored by historians?

Sara: Since Barbara J. Harris and Sharon Kettering emphasised the ways in which women could engage informally in politics through patronage networks and personal relationships, the political activities of elite women have been addressed by a number of historians and literary scholars. The recent edited collection by Nadine Akkerman and Birgit Houben, where I published a chapter on Henrietta Maria’s Bedchamber, made a point of looking at ladies-in-waiting, rather than queens, queens consort and royal mistresses. It was encouraging to be asked to be a part of that collection.

Niki: How did you get CCCU interested in awarding prizes for RSN? and how does the nomination process work to be eligible for the prize?

Sara: Canterbury Christ Church University has a number of historians and literary scholars interested in royal studies, such as Prof. Louise Wilkinson, Prof. Jackie Eales, Dr Astrid Stilma, and Dr Leonie Hicks. The opportunity to collaborate with other institutions to further our research culture is part of our research objectives and sponsoring the Royal Studies Journal seemed like the perfect opportunity. The prize will be awarded on an annual basis to the best postgraduate article published by the Royal Studies Journal.

Niki: Lastly, what are you working on now? We look forward to reading your work.

Sara: I am currently reworking my PhD for publication with Manchester University Press. I’m also working on transnational relations between the Dutch Republic and the Stuart crown in 1641-3. I’m publishing an article on Henrietta Maria at the court of Frederick Henry in a Special Issue for Women’s History Review, which will be forthcoming next year.

Interview with scholar and RSNJ book review editor, Stephen Donnachie

RSJ Blog: What should a book review for the journal include? what do you hope the reviewers convey to the readers in the reviews?

Stephen: Ideally a good review should contain a thorough description of the book, its layout and its central arguments. It’s important to know what new directions the book is taking, what new things are being said, and what its overall strengths and weaknesses are. I hope reviews are able to convey a detailed impression of the work for readers so that they might judge where it stands in the wider body of literature already published.

RSJ Blog: How long should the reviews be?

Stephen: Generally a length of about 1000 words should be sufficient for a single book review, give or take a couple of hundred either way depending on the tome.

RSJ Blog: How old can the reviewed book be? Does the journal primarily review new releases? or are older books  also relevant for the field of Royal Studies?

Stephen: New releases are always better, it allows us to keep up to date with current publishing and developments in the field. If a book has been released within the last couple of years it should be suitable. Older works that have been updated or reprinted are still viable for review.

RSJ Blog: How do you match reviewers and books?

Stephen: We try to match books to reviewer’s expertise and areas of research so that those who know the field best can comment with authority. That is often easier said than done since some areas prove more popular than others. By appealing further afield and promoting the journal we can hopefully attract more potential reviewers and so include a greater diversity of books.

RSJ Blog: How do you select which book reviews make the journal? Are there thematic clusters, or just whatever is ready at this moment?

Stephen: It’s always good to try and get a bit of a thematic and chronological spread so as to appeal to a wider audience. It’s very easy to focus upon medieval and early modern periods for example, but there is an awful lot of other material out there. As its early days we are a little limited but as more issues come out I hope the range of reviews grows.

RSJ Blog: How can I search for a book review on the journal homepage?

Stephen: There is a general search function for the journal website as well as the ability to view the latest and previous issues.

RSJ Blog: How long does the process between submitting a book review and having it published usually take?

Stephen: The process can be very short. The journal will be published every six months so as long as the reviewer is prompt in returning their review to the journal it could appear in the next issue.

RSJ Blog: Are there any differences from the technical/administrative side between authors and reviewers?

Stephen: Not specifically, it’s really just a question of size. Reviewers are still held to similar standards as authors are.

RSJ Blog: Is there anything additional about the book reviews you’d like to add?

Stephen: Don’t be afraid to be honest in a review, give praise and criticism where it is due.

RSJ Blog: can you tell us a little bit about your current research? What is your most recent project?

Stephen: My current research focuses upon the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in the early thirteenth century and how it recovered politically, socially and economically from its near destruction by Saladin at the Battle of Hattin in 1187. I’ve bee trying to determine what impact such a disaster had upon not only the physical aspects of Frankish civilisation in the Crusader States, but also its effect upon mentalities in the Holy Land, Islam and Europe at large. My most recent work has been examining the prosopography of the Kingdom of Jerusalem around 1200, trying to determine changes to political culture and also attempting to identify trends of immigration.

RSJ Blog: What led you to pursue this topic? Where did your passion of Medieval history originate from?

Stephen:  This topic came out of the research I did for my PhD at Swansea University. I was originally doing an examination of the reign of Saladin but that soon changed as I became more engrossed with the consequences of the Battle of Hattin. I suppose I should blame my parents. They had the audacity to live in Warwickshire in the shadow of two fine castles at Warwick and Kenilworth which were everyday landmarks when I was growing up. Whenever we went on holiday or a trip we would always swing by some sort of medieval ruin or another.

RSJ Blog: Thank you, Stephen!

A brief update from the Editor-August 2014

It’s an exciting time for the new Royal Studies Journal! We are officially launched and ‘open for business’ with our call for submissions now open. Submissions of articles for the first issue are beginning to arrive and a healthy crop of book reviews are in progress.

The aim of our journal is to provide a forum for academic research in the field of royal studies-in any period, discipline or geographical context. We want to publish articles which demonstrate the strength and diversity of the field and keep readers up-to-date on the newest works emerging in the discipline. We also want to be as inclusive and international as possible, publishing fully open-access and not only in English but in multiple languages.

There are many ways that you can get involved with the new journal-the most obvious being as a reader, following the content of the issues on our website, blog and social media outlets. You can also sign up to become a reviewer of submissions and/or book reviews-to do this visit the website and register as a new ‘user’. Send us your suggestions of new works in the field that you’d like to see reviewed in the RSJ-remember we do review works in other languages including French, Spanish, Portuguese and German (with potential for other languages as well). Finally you can submit your own research to the journal-go to our ‘Submit’ page on the site for full instructions, a style guide and a link to upload your work. If you’d like to be considered for the first issue, submit your piece by the end of August. Thereafter, submissions will be continually open and we will be considering articles which arrive for subsequent issues of the journal. If you have any questions about submissions, suggestions for reviews or queries about the journal generally, email us at anytime.

We will keep you posted on the progress of the first issue-due out in late December 2014. Watch this space and follow us on twitter and Facebook for the latest updates!

A guide to using the Royal Studies Journal

An Interview with Charlotte Backerra, technical editor of the journal

Charlotte Backerra is about to finish her PhD in early modern European history at the University of Mainz, Germany. She writes about international relations in the early 18th c. and the relations between Vienna and London in the late 1720s and early 1730s – the complex relationship between George II – who is at the same time king of Great Britain and prince-elector of Hanover – and Emperor Charles VI.
She is also the technical editor of the Royal Studies Journal – the one answering your “help, the system crashed on me” e-mails. We asked her to tell us a bit more about the system, and what authors, reviewers and staff can expect.

Niki & Cathleen: Hi Charlotte, thank you for doing this interview. To begin, could you tell us which system the Journal is using, and why you decided to go with it?

Charlotte: Thank you for the opportunity to be on the blog! We are using the Open Journal Systems (OJS). It is an open access, free software with an international community for support and can be used in many different languages (even at the same time!). Many journals world-wide are using OJS. It is a very stable system and will be maintained – hopefully – for a long time to come. At the same time, it quite easy to use for everyone – which is a must for every online publishing software! The OJS is hosted locally at the University of Winchester, and we are very grateful for the IT department’s help in setting it up. The web design was done by Manu Fruteau, and I think it is done very well, don’t you think?

Niki & Cathleen: So to be clear, everything occurs within the Open Journal Systems?

Charlotte: Yes, everything, and I really mean everything happens within the OJS! It is meant to be used for the whole publishing process, for submission, reviews, (copy) editing; contacting everyone involved during the process, creating an issue and – finally – publishes a journal’s issues. Afterwards, authors (and editors) are even able to track citations and references made to their articles and issues.

Niki & Cathleen: And how does an author get his article inside?

Charlotte: To submit an article, you just have to login. RSJ-login

So if you are not an registered author, click on register and create your profile with username and your actual name, and state that you would like to register as an author (and reader, of course!). You will get a mail to confirm your e-mail address (sometimes it will be seen as spam by your mail server), and you will be able to set your own password.
As a registered author, go to “submit” and work your way through the five step submission process. READ carefully what you need for it (e.g. an abstract in English and some clear keywords), when you go step by step, it is really straight forward.

Niki & Cathleen: Okay, but what happens after I have submitted an article?

Charlotte: Well, you as the author are able to track your article throughout the process within the OJS. To do it, you have to login, click on “user home” (top of the page, arrow beside your name) and then you will see the different roles you have with the Royal Studies Journal. Clicking on “author” will bring you to a page where you do have an overview over your articles. RSJ-for-authors
When you click on any one article, it will show you the data inserted during the submission process and additional information. So you will for example always see who the section editor is and, under “status”, if it is in review, in copyediting etc. You are also able to contact your section editor via mail by clicking on the little envelope sign beside the name.

Niki & Cathleen: And how does the process work for the Royal Studies Journal team?

Charlotte: Internally, the submission editor(s) will have a look and assign the article to the appropriate section editor. The section editor will then contact 2 reviewers for the double blind review. Only she/ he will know their name(s) and identity and are able to see their participation for a specific article. The reviewers fill out a form to approve or disapprove an article and to suggest/ demand changes. The section editor then contacts the author via the OJS with the feedback if changes are needed or reassigns the article for copyediting and proofreading.

Niki & Cathleen: Great, thank you for everything so far; now the last and most important question: what does an author/ reviewer do if something doesn’t work? How do you get in touch with the right person?

Charlotte: If there are any technical problems, with registration, logging in, submission etc., just contact me via the OJS by clicking on the link with my name.

RSJ-submission-difficultiesIf you do have any question like “Why does it take so long to review my article?” or “I don’t understand the reviewers’ feedback!”, please contact the section editor responsible for your article by clicking on her/ his name within the OJS (remember, you need to be logged in, go to “user home” and “author” to see your articles). For any general remarks or suggestions for the Royal Studies Journal, use the “Email RSJ” button in the right column or contact the editor, Ellie Woodacre (“About” – “Editor-in-chief”).

Niki & Cathleen: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Charlotte: Just a big thank you to everyone involved until now and in future, and I am very much looking forward to reading our first issue of the Royal Studies Journal!