Edward Corp : A Court in Exile. The Stuarts in France, 1689-1718.
Edward Corp. A Court in Exile: The Stuarts in France, 1689-1718. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. xvi + 386 pp. $85.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-521-58462-3.
A few years ago, no sensible member of the profession would have dared use the designation "court historian." It would have evoked the image of a reactionary snob chronicling the empty titles of sycophantic aristocrats. Today, court history is not just acceptable, it is thriving. Court historians hold conferences and have their own journal. The appearance in 1999 of a beautiful volume of essays entitled The Princely Courts of Europe: Ritual, Politics and Culture under the Ancien Regime, 1500 - 1789, brought the latest research in court history to a wide audience.
This is all to the good, but court history still has intellectual problems to overcome. Most of its practitioners do not like models or theories. They prefer to study the individual structures and functions of courts, their rituals, ceremonies, entertainments, and the money that was spent on it all. Admittedly, the material is fairly intoxicating to any researcher, but the basic question that has not always been addressed is why courts mattered. To press the question further: did some courts matter more than others? And when exactly did they cease to matter: early in the eighteenth century; during the French Revolution; or as late as 1918?