Vienna and Versailles. The Courts of Europe’s Dynastic Rivals, 1550-1780
Cambridge University Press, 2003. xii + 349 pp. Illustrations, tables, notes, bibliography, index. $80.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-521-82262-6.
In the successor volume to his path-breaking book Myths of Power : Norbert Elias and the Early Modern European Court (English version, Amsterdam 1995 ; Dutch 1992), Duindam once again takes up the challenge offered us by Norbert Elias’s The Court Society (1969 ; English 1983) and, on the basis of exhaustive archival research, delves into the court households of Vienna and Versailles. By teasing out the expenses of the court households and separating these costs, as far as possible on the basis of preserved sources, from those of the governments in general, Duindam overturns much received knowledge about life at court and the role of the courtier at two of the most important courts of early modern Europe—Vienna and Versailles. Most importantly, Duindam simultaneously offers scholars a comparative perspective, an aspect completely lacking in his predecessor’s study...