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Blood Royal. Dynastic Politics in Medieval Europe, Cambridge

Robert Bartlett

BARTLETT Robert, Blood Royal. Dynastic Politics in Medieval Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2020, ISBN : 9781108490672

Throughout medieval Europe, for hundreds of years, monarchy was the way that politics worked in most countries. This meant power was in the hands of a family – a dynasty ; that politics was family politics ; and political life was shaped by the births, marriages and deaths of the ruling family. How did the dynastic system cope with female rule, or pretenders to the throne ? How did dynasties use names, the numbering of rulers and the visual display of heraldry to express their identity ? And why did some royal families survive and thrive, while others did not ? Drawing on a rich and memorable body of sources, this engaging and original history of dynastic power in Latin Christendom and Byzantium explores the role played by family dynamics and family consciousness in the politics of the royal and imperial dynasties of Europe. From royal marriages and the birth of sons, to female sovereigns, mistresses and wicked uncles, Robert Bartlett makes enthralling sense of the complex web of internal rivalries and loyalties of the ruling dynasties and casts fresh light on an essential feature of the medieval world.

Robert Bartlett, CBE, FBA, is Professor Emeritus at the University of St Andrews. His books include The Making of Europe : Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950-1350 (1993), which won the Wolfson Literary Prize for History in 1994, and Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things ? (2015). He is well-known as the writer and presenter of several BBC documentary series including ‘Inside the Medieval Mind’ (2008), ‘The Normans’ (2010), and ‘The Plantagenets’ (2014).

Table des matières :

Introduction. Royal Families

Part I. The Life Cycle :
Choosing a bride
Waiting for sons to be born
Fathers and sons
Female sovereigns
Mistresses and bastards
Family dynamics

Part II. A Sense of Dynasty :
Names and numbering
Saints, images, heraldry, family trees
Responses to dynastic uncertainty : prophecy and astrology
Pretenders and returners : dynastic imposters in the Middle Ages
New families and new kingdoms
Dynasties and the non-dynastic world