Call for Papers: Maintaining the Presence of the Prince: Management of Royal Geographies (XIVth-XIXth Centuries). Versailles, 15-17 September 2021

This international symposium is a collaboration between the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles (CRCV), the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid (URJC), and the
Universiteit Utrecht (UU)

In order to promote and consolidate their power, the European rulers have built and extended their presence through multiple “Royal Sites” from the end of the Middle Ages onwards. Nevertheless, if building and expanding the presence of the prince have been very important in the development and assertion of its sovereignty, what about preserving it through time?

The answer lies in the second part of the life of these places, when the time of construction is over and the time of use by the prince and his court begins. Maintenance is then a key to ensure the continuity of the demonstration of magnificence and stability of the regime, being these royal sites the embodiment of the power of the prince.

Whereas the design and construction of court architecture and royal sites has a long and extensive historiography, the way these royal sites were maintained has rarely been a subject of study in itself. Yet, the upkeep of royal sites was of great consequence, and knew its own particular and challenging dynamics. Maintenance has only recently attracted scholarly interest, and while the periods from Antiquity to the late Middle Ages and the 19th century until nowadays have been considered, the maintenance in the Early Modern Period is still an understudied field. However, it was in this period that new maintenance organizations evolved into independent and complex administrations, such as the “King’s works” in England, the “Surintendance in France” and the “Junta de Obras y Bosques” in Spain. These organizations form the roots of modern government departments. They were responsible for the vast “Royal Sites” which included all properties belonging to the ruling dynasty. They served as centers of power that helped shape early modern monarchies, especially in the seventeenth century, when different monarchs used them to address challenges to their authority. Such “royal geographies”, not only included residences where the ruler and other members of the dynasty resided, but also other things associated with the running of the court, such as forests, gardens, agricultural lands, factories and urban spaces. The administration was in some cases also responsible for royal monasteries and convents founded or supported by the royal family.

Following   on   the   conference   “Building  the  Presence  of  the  Prince”  held  in  Utrecht in November   of   2019 ,   this   international   symposium   aims   to   reunite   experts   from   different historiographical fields (History, Art History, Architectural History and Political Thought), with the objective of developing a comparative analysis on the way royal spaces were maintained from a transnational and diachronic (14th–19th century) perspective. The chronological framework of this symposium is consciously that of “long duration”, allowing thus the examination of issues dealing with maintenance from the birth of the royal geography and its developments until the 19th century when royal places and spaces have been transformed into national heritage sites, when as a consequence focus shifted to conservation and restorations.

The full call for papers with the themes and questions that can be elaborated and further information about the conference is available here.

Proposals, in French or in English, of about 3,000 characters (with spaces), must include the title and a summary of the paper, and be accompanied by a short biography (1,200 characters) and the applicant’s contact details. Proposals can be sent to José Eloy Hortal, Merlijn Hurx and Benjamin Ringot before 23 November 2020 at this email address : symposiumversailles2021@gmail.com

 

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