SYPMPOSIUM: Building the Presence of the Prince. Utrecht, 8-9 November 2019

Organized by the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid (URJC), the Universiteit Utrecht (UU) and the Royal Netherlands Society of Architectural History (KNOB)

Nowadays the rulers’ residences and convents (Royal Sites) are often seen by the general public as the curious dwellings of royal families, who lived isolated from society. However, such places were not only built for pleasure, but they belonged to a larger network of buildings and estates that together played an important role in the ruler’s administration. Apart from palaces, these domains often comprised forests, agricultural lands, watercourses and ponds, as well as defence works and industrial and commercial buildings such as mills, tollhouses, and factories. From the Middle Ages onwards, these networks of sites became increasingly important for the consolidation of the sovereign’s power, playing a key role in the promotion of their rule. To improve control over their domanial buildings and to ensure their upkeep, rulers set up permanent administrative bodies entrusted with their management. In principle, the centralization of their building management was a financial reform, however this reform should also be considered within the context of the expansion of the sovereign’s presence throughout the realm.

These building administrations have not been yet compared systematically, and it remains unclear to what extent such centralized bodies developed autonomously, responding to local conditions and requirements, or were part of international developments facilitated by the close networks of the European courts.

This symposium brings together scholars from various disciplines as a first attempt to compare these institutions on a pan-European scale from the late Middle Ages up to the end of the 17th century. It aims to investigate the relationships between the local idiosyncrasies of these organisations and their shared European characteristics. It addresses from a multidisciplinary perspective questions concerning the nature of such administrations, their purpose, organisational structure, and judicial status, as well as their role in the formation of the state.

Full programme of the symposium can be accessed here.

Registration to the symposium is available through eventbrite.

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