Dynastic Identity in Early Modern Europe: Rulers, Aristocrats and the Formation of Identities, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Dynastic Identity in Early Modern Europe

Rulers, Aristocrats and the Formation of Identities, 1st Edition

Edited by Liesbeth Geevers, Mirella Marini


310 pages

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Aristocratic dynasties have long been regarded as fundamental to the development of early modern society and government. Yet recent work by political historians has increasingly questioned the dominant role of ruling families in state formation, underlining instead the continued importance and independence of individuals. In order to take a fresh look at the subject, this volume provides a broad discussion on the formation of dynastic identities in relationship to the lineage’s own history, other families within the social elite, and the ruling dynasty. Individual chapters consider the dynastic identity of a wide range of European aristocratic families including the CroÃs, Arenbergs and Nassaus from the Netherlands; the Guises-Lorraine of France; the Sandoval-Lerma in Spain; the Farnese in Italy; together with other lineages from Ireland, Sweden and the Austrian Habsburg monarchy. Tied in with this broad international focus, the volume addressed a variety of related themes, including the expression of ambitions and aspirations through family history; the social and cultural means employed to enhance status; the legal, religious and political attitude toward sovereigns; the role of women in the formation and reproduction of (composite) dynastic identities; and the transition of aristocratic dynasties to royal dynasties. In so doing the collection provides a platform for looking again at dynastic identity in early modern Europe, and reveals how it was a compound of political, religious, social, cultural, historical and individual attitudes.


"Although all of the contributions make for interesting reading, some aspects convey additional importance and thus deserve special notice. Take, for example, Duindam's article, which proposes comparisons between Europe and China on a truly grand scale, or Soen, who seems to pick up on issues of informality at court, a topic that also gained prominence in German scholarship in recent years." - Stephan Sander-Faes, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Table of Contents

Avant-propos, Duc d’ Arenberg; Introduction: aristocracy, dynasty and identity in early modern Europe, 1520-1700, Liesbeth Geevers and Mirella Marini. Part I Identity, Ethnicity and Monarchy:Aristocratic identity formation in 17th-century Ireland, Jane Ohlmeyer; The newcomer’s dilemma: Henry IV of France and James I of England, Ronald G. Asch; Dynasty and elites: from early modern Europe to late imperial China, Jeroen Duindam. Part II Identity Formation and Family Relations: The Chièvres legacy, the Croÿ family and litigation in Paris. Dynastic identities between the Low Countries and France (1519-1559), Violet Soen; From Arenberg to Aarschot and back again: female inheritance and the disputed 'merger' of two aristocratic identities, Mirella Marini; Points of transferral: Mademoiselle de Guise’s will and the transferability of dynastic identity, Jonathan Spangler. Part III Manufacturing Identity: The fruits of war: the representation of Alessandro Farnese in Paolo Rinaldi’s Liber Relationum, Sebastiaan Derks; To give to airy nothing a local habitation and a name: creating two great Swedish noble families, Fabian Persson; The Nassau orphans. the disputed legacy of William of Orange and the construction of the Prince of Orange (1584-1675), Liesbeth Geevers; Conclusion: ‘The line of descent of nobles is from the blood of kings’: reflections on dynastic identity, Hamish Scott. Bibliography; Index.

About the Editors

Dr Liesbeth Geevers is a postdoctoral researcher at the Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands). From 2008 to 2011 she was a lecturer of Political History at Utrecht University. She has published on the dynastic identity of William of Orange in the 1560s and the identity of the Nassau dynasty (1541-1616) and is currently studying the position of dynastic juniors in Eurasian empires (1300-1800). Mirella Marini obtained a BA in Law (1996) and an MA in history (2006) at the KU Leuven (Belgium). Her doctoral research on the religious patronage of high noble women is undertaken at the VU University Amsterdam (Netherlands) and the University of Antwerp (Belgium). Marini has published on female diplomacy, funeral culture and the politics of dynastic marriages.

About the Series

Politics and Culture in Europe, 1650-1750

Politics and Culture in Europe, 1650-1750 Focusing on the years between the end of the Thirty Years' War and the end of the War of the Austrian Succession, this series seeks to broaden scholarly knowledge of this crucial period that witnessed the solidification of Europe into centralized nation states and created a recognizably modern political map. Bridging the gap between the early modern period of the Reformation and the eighteenth century of colonial expansion and industrial revolution, these years provide a fascinating era of study in which nationalism, political dogma, economic advantage, scientific development, cultural and artistic interests and strategic concerns began to compete with religion as the driving force of European relations and national foreign policies. The period under investigation, the second half of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth, corresponds with the decline of Spanish power and the rise of French hegemony that was only to be finally broken following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. This shifting political power base presented opportunities and dangers for many countries, resulting in numerous alliances between formerly hostile nations attempting to consolidate or increase their international influence, or restrain that of a rival. These contests of power were closely bound up with political, cultural and economic issues: particularly the strains of state building, trade competition, religious tension and toleration, accommodating flows of migrants and refugees, the birth pangs of rival absolutist and representative systems of government, radical structures of credit, and new ways in which wider publics interacted with authority. Despite this being a formative period in the formation of the European landscape, there has been relatively little research on it compared to the earlier Reformation, and the later revolutionary eras. By providing a forum that encourages scholars to engage with the forces that were shaping the continent - either in a particular country, or taking a trans-national or comparative approach - it is hoped a greater understanding of this pivotal era will be forthcoming.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Europe / General
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century