Significant Others explores the transformative possibilities of alterity or otherness and offers concrete case studies that provide a greater understanding and nuance with regard to aspects of deviance and difference in premodern court cultures.
Both public and nominally private spaces were subject to the important influence of significant others, such as women, ethno-religious minorities, and marginalized and/or difficult-to-categorize men. From their positions within and ties to court cultures, these diverse outsiders - ‘others’ - played crucial roles in maintaining a fluidity essential for the successful sustaining of territorial monarchies and polities, challenging our understanding of the more narrowly defined elite behaviours that shaped premodern dynasties, rulers, societies, and cultures of the past. By exploring a variety of case studies from history and literature, such as Moroccan Jews as dhimmis (‘protected persons’), to bastards, mistresses, and sodomites in ancien régime France, to the transformative role of magic in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this volume makes use of empirical and contextually informed research to respond to theoretical questions posed by recent historiography.
With a cross-disciplinary approach, this collection of essays will be a valuable resource for all students and scholars interested in the diverse aspects and contexts of premodern ‘others’.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Significant Others: Aspects of Deviance and Difference in Premodern Court Cultures—Tales of the Unexpected?
Zita Eva Rohr and Jonathan Spangler
Part 1: (An)Other Middle Ages: Undermining Literary Preconceptions and Habits of Premodern Difference
1. The Other Middle Ages: Cultural Memory and Alterity in Guy Gavriel Kay’s Lions of Al-Rassan
2. Journeying Through (An)Other World: The Role of Magic and Transformational Otherness in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Part 2: Profiting from Difference: Mediterranean Othering and Negotiated Belonging
3. Alter-egos: Mediterranean Agents Negotiating Identity at the Dawn of the Franco-Ottoman Alliance
4. The Role of Court Jews as Dhimmis and as Influential Agents of Moroccan Sultans
Part 3: Deviance and Difference: Othering Insiders and Elevating Outsiders at the Court of France
5. ‘Othering’ the Ultimate Insider: The Queen of France
Tracy Adams and Christine Adams
6. ‘Normalising’ Louis XIV’s natural daughters: from bastardy to princeliness (1666-1749)
7. Pivot to Piety: A Sexual Scandal at Versailles, 1682, and the Evolution of Perceptions of Male Same-Sex Behaviour at the Court of Louis XIV
Zita Eva Rohr is a political historian of gender in the late medieval and early modern periods, specialising in the political, cultural, and diplomatic history of France, Aragon-Catalonia, and Naples-Sicily. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an honorary research fellow at Macquarie University in the Department of History and Archaeology. In 2004, she was admitted to the Ordre des Palmes Académiques for her contribution to French education and culture.
Jonathan W. Spangler specializes in monarchy, nobility, and dynastic identity in early modern Europe, with particular focus on France and the Duchy of Lorraine. He completed his doctoral studies at Oxford University and is now Senior Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is the Senior Editor of The Court Historian, the international journal of court studies, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.