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30 nov.-2 déc. 2010, Madrid : FELIX AUSTRIA. Family Ties, Political Culture and Artistic Patronage between Habsburg Court Networks in European Context (1516-1715)

Programme provisoire

The first ESF-PALATIUM meeting in Madrid is inspired by the famous Habsburg
motto distikon: ‘Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube. / Nam quae Mars aliis, dat tibi
diva Venus’. The Habsburg Dynasty obtained fruitful advantages through its marriage
policy, preserving close and continuous ties with several royal or princely families
across Europe (Valois-Burgundy, Trastamara, Avis, Jagellon-Vasa, Wittelsbach,
Farnese, Medici, Gonzaga, Savoy…), and thus creating a complex network of courts.
The expansion of the Habsburg network provoked reactions in the European world of
courts ranging from reception and assimilation to outright rejection. The contributions
to the meeting will chart these complex phenomena of exchange (understood both in the
positive and the negative sense), with the aim of defining clearly the Habsburg courtly
identity in relation to the European context.
We propose this scientific activity in relation with the ‘Working Party 2:
Habsburg Spheres: exchanges and influences?’ of the European Science Foundation
Research Networking Programme PALATIUM. Court Residences as Places of
Exchange in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (1400-1700), and as part of our
coordinated research project in FCA (financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and
Innovation ref. HAR2009-12963-C03) about Power Management, Court Patronage &
Financing Capital at the Hispanic Monarchy (1580-1715). Also, it will be part of a
scientific cooperation with the Research Project dedicated to the study of the Hofburg in
Vienna (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften): 1519-1521/22 bis 1705. Die
Residenzen der Renaissance und des Frühbarock. Die Wiener Hofburg im 16. und 17.
Jahrhundert. Bau- und Planungsgeschichte, Funktion und Bedeutung.

Lieu : Madrid (Fundación Carlos de Amberes), 30 November–2 December 2010.
Coordinator : Bernardo J. García García.

1. Expanding the House of Austria. Habsburg Influence and the Reactions It Provoked:
Reception, Assimilation, Exchange, and Rejection

The expansion of the House of Austria established contact with different ceremonial
traditions and caused a complex process of exchange, reception, assimilation or
rejection in the configuration of those European courts linked more or less with the
Habsburg Networks (tradition, legitimacy, conservation of their patrimony or
innovation). The family strategies and the representation of the dynastic virtues and
family ties with other dynasties in the royal residences (whether through their spatial
organisation, architectural expression, decoration or furnishings) will be considered in
the first part of the meeting. In particular, the ‘correspondencia dinástica’ (cooperation,
or common political, strategic, ideological or dynastic interests) between the two main
Habsburg branches (Spanish and Austrian) will be analyzed in terms of affinity, conflict
or emulation.

2. Saving Distance: Instruments to Keep in Touch and to Preserve Influence (letters, gifts,
agents and visits)

Secondly, how were distances bridged in this complex world, specifically in the
Habsburg Dynasty network spread across Europe? The circulation of models and ways
of life, for the education of princes and other young members in foreign courts was
made possible through a variety of means: letters, gifts, menageries, special
consumption goods, agents and visits were used as instruments to keep in touch, to
cultivate and preserve family ties, intimacy or political influence. Also, the exchange
and recruitment of skilful servants (artists, engineers, gardeners, artisans, domestic
workers, counters, religious assistants…) facilitated the exchange of experiences,
information and affection.

3. Spaces for Privacy and Intimacy
One of the elements that define the ceremonial style of the main Habsburg courts – as
has been stressed many times in the past – is the growing control of the access to the
sovereign and royal family, introducing a language of distance and favour, decor
(decorum) and magnificence. The third section of our meeting will be dedicated to the
spatial and formal expression of this distance/closeness, i.e. to the study of the spaces
reserved for privacy and intimacy in royal residences, considering also the extension of
royal space and life to other family courts (e. g. the Royal Monastery of the Descalzas
in Madrid) or to the residences of the ruler’s favourite (e. g. the Duke of Lerma’s palace
in Madrid or in Lerma). Characteristic differences in understanding the ruler’s intimacy
and other modes of spatial expression found at other courts may serve to highlight the
specificity of Habsburg court life.

4. Calendar for Court Life: Defining uses of Court Residences (specialization,
functionality, privacy, devotion, sports…) and Court Short Movements

The uses and development of the royal residences were defined by the rhythm of court
life, hobbies, agenda and short movements of the royal family. That will be the object of
study proposed for the last section of our meeting: impact of permanent court residence
and creation of a seasonal circuit of royal houses (palaces, monasteries, hunting houses,
private residences…); traditional uses and adaptation to new tastes (redecoration,
modernization and specialization); confrontation of these patterns with other European
The pre-programme will come online shortly. Please contact the coordinator,
Bernardo J. García García (contact information below), if you are interested and
want to be kept informed.