Early Modern Court Culture  book cover
1st Edition

Early Modern Court Culture

Edited By

Erin Griffey

ISBN 9781032304328
Published February 9, 2022 by Routledge
608 Pages 116 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Through a thematic overview of court culture that connects the cultural with the political, confessional, spatial, material and performative, this volume introduces the dynamics of power and culture in the early modern European court.

Exploring the period from 1500 to 1750, Early Modern Court Culture is cross-cultural and interdisciplinary, providing insights into aspects of both community and continuity at courts as well as individual identity, change and difference. Culture is presented as not merely a vehicle for court propaganda in promoting the monarch and the dynasty, but as a site for a complex range of meanings that conferred status and virtue on the patron, maker, court and the wider community of elites. The essays show that the court provided an arena for virtue and virtuosity, intellectual and social play, demonstration of moral authority and performance of social, gendered, confessional and dynastic identity.

Early Modern Court Culture moves from political structures and political players to architectural forms and spatial geographies; ceremonial and ritual observances; visual and material culture; entertainment and knowledge. With 35 contributions on subjects including gardens, dress, scent, dance and tapestries, this volume is a necessary resource for all students and scholars interested in the court in early modern Europe.

Table of Contents


Erin Griffey

Part I: People and political structures: Connecting power

1. Monarchs: Kings and queens regnant, sovereign princes and popes 

Ronald G. Asch

2. Consorts and court ladies

Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly

3. Wider kinship networks

Jonathan Spangler

4. Courtiers, ministers and favourites

R. Malcolm Smuts

5. Confessors

Nicole Reinhardt

6. Aristocrats and nobles 

Hamish Scott

7. Diplomats

Tracey A. Sowerby

Part II: Place and space: Negotiating the court

8. Access

Dries Raeymaekers

9. Princely residences

Elisabeth Narkin

10. Gardens

Paula Henderson

Part III: Ceremonial and ritual: Observing tradition

11. Religious rituals and the liturgical calendar

Paolo Cozzo

12. Childbirth

Erin Griffey

13. Marriages

Joan-Lluís Palos

14. Coronations

Paul Monod

15. Receptions: Triumphal entries, ambassadorial receptions and banquets

R.L.M. Morris

16. Funerals

Jill Bepler

Part IV: Visual and material culture: Furnishing the palace

17. Metalwork

Sean Roberts

18. Tapestries

Guy Delmarcel

19. Upholstered furnishings, cabinet work and gilt furniture

Olivia Fryman

20. Portraiture

Lisa Mansfield

21. Display

Andrea Bubenik

22. Porcelain rooms

Meredith Martin

Part 5: Material culture: Dressing the body

23. Jewellery

Natasha Awais-Dean

24. Male dress

Timothy McCall

25. Female dress

Jemma Field

26. Beauty

Erin Griffey

27. Scent

Holly Dugan

Part VI: Entertainment and knowledge: Performing authority

28. Science

Alisha Rankin

29. Theatre and opera

Sophie Tomlinson

30. Dance

Jennifer Nevile

31. Literature

Tom Bishop

32. Music

Andrew H. Weaver

33. Tournaments and hunting

Glenn Richardson

34. Food and dining

Ken Albala

35. Games and jokes

Johan Verberckmoes


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Erin Griffey is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Auckland and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. She is a specialist in early modern visual and material culture and has published widely on the Stuart court, including On Display: Henrietta Maria and the Materials of Magnificence at the Stuart Court (2016). Her other books include the edited collection Sartorial Politics in Early Modern Europe: Fashioning Women (2019). She is writing a monograph entitled Facing Decay: Beauty, Wrinkles and Anti-Aging in Early Modern Europe.


 'A welcome and thorough comparative exploration of early modern court culture, this volume steers the reader expertly through the power structures, spaces, and cultures of European courts. With an emphasis on the material, the sensory, and the spatial, the essays bring the field of court history up to date and showcase it as a vibrant field of study. A must for every early modern reading list.'

Nicola Clark, University of Chichester, UK