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16-18 mars 2016, Oxford : Dynasty and Dynasticism. 1400 - 1700

Somerville College, University of Oxford

This conference aims to ask afresh what royal dynasty was in the late medieval and early modern periods: what beliefs underpinned it, whence its power and mystique derived, and who or what ruling dynasties believed themselves to be. In recent decades, the ‘new political history’ has reanimated the study of monarchy, courts, parliaments and royal image-making, using a range of interdisciplinary techniques, in the process enriching our grasp of political culture in the late medieval and early modern periods. This conference now seeks to put dynasty under the spotlight, as a category of analysis in its own right, and as a major organising political principle in the pre-modern world.

The questions which the conference wishes to address include:

  • How was the identity of a dynasty constructed and expressed?
  • Did a heightened dynastic consciousness emerge in Europe or elsewhere in the 15th,16th and 17th centuries?
  • How should we understand the relationship between dynasty and monarchy (hereditary, elective or imperial)?
  • What role did dynasties play in discourses about national identity and foreignness?
  • What light do gender studies, anthropology, history of the body or history of emotions shed on the nature and functioning of dynasty?
  • How did mono-territorial dynasties differ in strategy and self-understanding from international dynasties which ruled multiple lands?
  • How different were royal dynasties from other forms of elite family network: e.g. aristocratic, banking or merchant houses?
  • How have royal dynasties been constructed in subsequent cultural memory and scholarship?

More information and program

The Jagiellonians Project
The conference is being organised by the Oxford-based, ERC-funded project Jagiellonians: Dynasty, Memory and Identity in Central Europe (www.jagiellonians.com), led by Dr. Natalia Nowakowska. The project takes as its focus the supra-national Jagiellonian dynasty, who ruled multiple European polities in the period 1386 to 1572 - the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the kingdoms of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia – and married extensively into the ruling houses of the Holy Roman Empire and Scandinavia. Well known in the individual national historiographies of northern and Central Europe, the Jagiellonians have rarely been studied as an international political phenomenon, and they remain little known outside the regions which they once ruled.
The project seeks to explore Jagiellonian dynasty and dynasticism within a much broader context: located in Central Europe, the Jagiellonians looked westwards, but also south and east towards the Orthodox world, the Tartars and the Ottomans. We welcome proposals for papers addressing these and related questions, from scholars working on the Jagiellonians and other ruling dynasties of Latin Christendom, Eastern Christendom, the Americas and Asia in these centuries.