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Dynasty : A Very Short Introduction

Duindam Jeroen

Duindam Jeroen, Dynasty : A Very Short Introduction, OUP Oxford, Oxford, 2019, ISBN-10 : 0198809085, ISBN-13 : 978-0198809081

For thousands of years bloodlines have been held as virtually unassailable credentials for leadership, with supreme political power perceived as a family affair across the globe and throughout history. At the heart of royal dynasties, kings were inflated to superhuman proportions, yet their status came at a price : whilst they may have reigned, they were very often ruled by others who sheltered behind the ruler’s proclaimed omnipotence. Descent through the female line also occurred, subverting our common view of dynasty as built on father-son succession. Everywhere, women were important as mothers of boy-kings, and could even rule in their own right in some places. In this Very Short Introduction Jeroen Duindam connects the earliest history of kings and queens to contemporary examples of family-based leadership. His sweeping overview of five millennia of dynastic rule brings to light recurring predicaments of families on the throne. Examining persistent family conflict and the dilemmas of leadership, he shows how the challenge of governing the family was balanced by the necessity of family scions, close or distant, for the survival of dynasties. Tensions between ageing fathers and eager sons can be found among ancient kings as well as in modern business empires. Guidebooks for rulers throughout history provided counsel that will appear strikingly familiar to contemporary leaders. The thoughts and confessions of rulers added a more personal touch to these rules of thumb. Throughout, Duindam sheds light not only on similarities, but also on divergence and change in dynastic practice. ABOUT THE SERIES : The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable

Jeroen Duindam is Professor of History and Chair for Early Modern History at the University of Leiden. He has published extensively on the history of courts and rulers, initially focusing on Europe, before gradually extending his research interests to include Asia and Africa. Between 2011 and 2016 he led a prestigious Dutch research programme on Eurasian empires, and he currently leads a research project on ’monarchy in turmoil’, which examines the response of rulers in the Netherlands and Germany to reform and revolution between 1780 and 1820. Duindam is the editor for the series Rulers and Elites (Brill), and has authored three monographs : Dynasties : A Global History of Power 1300-1800 (Cambridge 2016), Vienna and Versailles : The Courts of Europe’s Dynastic Rivals, c. 1550-1780 (Cambridge 2003), and Myths of Power : Norbert Elias and the Early Modern European Court (Amsterdam 1995), all of which have helped in shaping the comparative study of courts and rulers.