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
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
3. Wider kinship networks
4. Courtiers, ministers and favourites
R. Malcolm Smuts
6. Aristocrats and nobles
Tracey A. Sowerby
Part II: Place and space: Negotiating the court
9. Princely residences
Part III: Ceremonial and ritual: Observing tradition
11. Religious rituals and the liturgical calendar
15. Receptions: Triumphal entries, ambassadorial receptions and banquets
Part IV: Visual and material culture: Furnishing the palace
19. Upholstered furnishings, cabinet work and gilt furniture
22. Porcelain rooms
Part 5: Material culture: Dressing the body
24. Male dress
25. Female dress
Part VI: Entertainment and knowledge: Performing authority
29. Theatre and opera
Andrew H. Weaver
33. Tournaments and hunting
34. Food and dining
35. Games and jokes
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