Marrying Cultures: Queens Consort and European Identities 1500-1800


Project Summary

This project began with the observation that in the period from 1500 to 1800 kings and princes, when they married, usually for political and dynastic reasons, took a consort from another territory. These foreign brides often spoke a different language to that of her spouse and her new subjects, practiced a different religion and had been brought up with different cultural norms. In this way each such dynastic marriage brought about a meeting of two European cultures.

This project had two aims:

  • Uncover the origins of our modern European identities, by better understanding the deep and ongoing cultural connections between the various centres of dynastic Europe between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries.
  • Show the role that elite women, often left out of the historical record, played in creating these important connections.

Two strategies were adopted in designing this project:

  • Individual team members chose specific contrasting case studies from across Europe to be investigated by means of detailed archival and library research.
  • Colleagues in historic houses, museums, art galleries and libraries were brought into the project as partners to consider properly both the material objects stored in these institutions brought by foreign consorts and to question the way in which history is conveyed to the present-day public.

The project asked the following questions:

  • What is meant by ‘cultural transfer’?
  • Were consorts agents of cultural influence, were they instruments used by others – for instance, by their home court – or did their presence make them simply catalysts?
  • What were the areas in which a consort was able to make a cultural contribution and why?
  • What kinds of cultural synthesis and reciprocal cultural influence resulted from dynastic unions?
  • What kinds of cultural, linguistic and confessional negotiations had to be undertaken by a consort at a foreign court?
  • What transnational networks of reciprocal influence are revealed by investigating modes of communication and inheritance among dynastic women?
  • What are the lasting effects of these early modern cultural encounters?

Prof. Helen Watanabe O'Kelly

Project Leader

University of Oxford
United Kingdom


Project Partners

Prof. Helen Watanabe O'Kelly

Project Leader

University of Oxford
United Kingdom

Email

Dr Jill Bepler

Herzog August Bibliothek
Germany

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Prof. Svante Norrhem

Lund University
Sweden

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Dr Almut Bues

German Historical Institute
Poland

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Associate Partners

Julius Bryant

Victoria and Albert Museum
United Kingdom

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Dr Malin Grundberg

Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury)
Sweden

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Prof Igor Ka ̨kolewski

The Museum of Polish History
Poland

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Dr Catharine Macleod

National Portrait Gallery
United Kingdom

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Dr Joanna Marschner

HRP
United Kingdom

Email

  • University of Oxford

    University of Oxford

    Oxford OX1 2JD, UK

  • Herzog August Bibliothek

    Herzog August Bibliothek

    Herzog August Bibliothek, Postfach 1364, 38299 Wolfenbüttel, Germany

  • Lund University

    Lund University

    Lund, Sweden

  • German Historical Institute

    German Historical Institute

    Warsaw, Poland