CONF: Habsburg-Related Papers at the Annual Conference of the Renaissance Society of America (Virtual, April 13-22, 2021)

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Habsburg-Related Papers at the Annual Conference of the Renaissance Society of America (Virtual, April 13-22, 2021)


All times are listed in EDT. The conference can be found here: and requires registration. Live conference sessions take place at appointed program times. Video recordings of these sessions will be processed and posted to the conference platform.




Cameos, Medals, Rings, Portraits: Objects as Memorabilia in the Collection of Archduke Ernest of Austria

Ivo Raband, University of Hamburg

(Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 10:00 AM - 10:20 AM)

When Ernest of Austria became Governor-General of the Netherlands in 1594, he moved his collection from Vienna to Brussels and placed it inside the city’s Coudenberg Palace. There, in the "recamera” of his apartment, the Archduke kept mainly smaller objects, which were all listed in great detail in the inventory drawn up after his death in 1595. Reading the document, it becomes clear that these miniature objects were among his most prized possessions as they were made from precious materials and adorned with jewels. Furthermore, it can be shown how the cameos, medals, rings, and small-scale portraits functioned as a form of dynastic collection, physically and materially connecting the Archduke to central figures of the Habsburg family near and far. This paper will highlight how the small objects in the collection of Ernest of Austria can be used as a key to understand his collecting ambitions as a whole.


Peutinger, Breu, and the Prayer Book of Maximilian I: The Case of Festina Lente

Rachel M. Carlisle, Florida State University

(Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 10:00 AM - 10:20 AM)

Printed in 1531 at Augsburg, the Emblematum liber marks the emergence of the tripartite emblem. Andrea Alciato deemed the unsophisticated woodcuts by local artist Jörg Breu unacceptable, and today, details of the “pirated” volume’s publication by printer Heinrich Steyner and humanist Konrad Peutinger remain cloaked in mystery. Scholars have historically focused on documentary evidence associated with Alciato in their search for the emblem’s origin. In this paper, I shift focus away from Alciato and examine the earliest collaboration between Peutinger and Breu: the artist’s marginal illustrations in the Prayer Book of Maximilian I. The Prayer Book marks the first appearance of classical themes in Breu’s oeuvre, and in it, I identify a unique illustration of festina lente. Ultimately, I aim to demonstrate Peutinger’s role as an important mechanism in the artist’s adoption of Italianate motifs resulting in the development of a proto-emblem nearly two decades prior to the publication of the Emblematum liber.


For the Emperor and the Market: Cornelis I and Willem Liefrinck in Augsburg and Antwerp

Jeroen Luyckx, KU Leuven

(Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 10:40 AM - 11:00 AM)

The Liefrinck family was a Netherlandish dynasty of printmakers that consisted of three generations and was active for over a century. Yet scholars have mainly focused on the output of the prolific Antwerp print publisher Hans Liefrinck I (c. 1515–73). What has received far less attention are the activities and whereabouts of the first generation, whose early work paved the way for later commercial and creative successes.

This paper addresses Cornelis I (d. 1528) and Willem Liefrinck (d. c. 1536–46), the brothers who laid the foundation for what would grow to be a family of printmakers. By studying both published and unpublished prints and written sources, I aim to analyze and contextualize the output of Cornelis I and Willem. This paper will evaluate the role that these progenitors played as block cutters for the monumental print projects of Emperor Maximilian I in Augsburg as well as the origins of their work as independent print publishers in Antwerp.


The Dressing of Naked Emblems: Maria Anna of Bavaria’s Book of Honor

Tamar Cholcman, Tel Aviv University

(Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 10:40 AM - 11:00 AM)

The tradition of the pompa funebris, ceremonies and published book, had already been a well-established practice in Austria at the beginning of the 17th century. Maria Anna of Bavaria, however, posed a problem to the Jesuits at the College in Gratz. She ordered and paid for a most minimal and unadorned funeral. Their solution – the publication of a funeral book, in 1608, incorporating the ‘description’ of several tumuli including 17 emblems. None of which were actual. The emblems were all Poetic artificiosa, an imageless ‘naked emblem’ with only a suggestive figurative form. Interestingly, in 1609, the same author published another book – a conventional emblem book, ’dressing’, so to speak, the ‘naked’ emblems with more accustomed figurative picturae. In this paper, I will argue that this demonstrates, not only the Jesuits’ interests and position within the duchy, but might also shed a new light on their emblematic theory and practices.


The Institutionalization of Royal Crown Jewels Collections in Early Modern Europe (1530–1691)

Léonard Pouy, L'Ecole, School of Jewelry Arts, with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels

(Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 12:00 PM - 12:20 PM)

It was at the occasion of his marriage in 1530 with Eleanor of Austria, the sister of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, that Francis I of France decided to isolate eight particularly precious stones and jewels, partly coming from the ancient treasure of Brittany, transmitted by his first wife, Claude, and to make them inalienable. This paper concentrates on how this decision represents a change of paradigm in jewelry collecting for French and European courts at that time: while the previous century saw the development of new stonecutting techniques, highlighting diamond’s gemological qualities and nobility among other gems, 1530 can be seen as revolution for modern jewelry and jewelry collecting, adding a very political and diplomatic side to the perception of such precious objects. From now on, diamonds and gemstones, will be mounted and used as means for sovereigns to rule, allowing them to forge alliances, to finance wars and to legitimate their status.


Inventaria Rudolphina – Digitizing the Painting Collection of Rudolf II Hapsburg

Marketa Jezkova, Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Art History and Martin Meduna, Independent Scholar

(Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 12:40 PM - 1:00 PM)

An essential source of information about the collection of paintings of the emperor Rudolf II Hapsburg, less known then his “Kunstkammer”, are its inventories, published in the beginning of 20th century. Essential parts of the inventories are currently only available in printed form and have not been studied yet as a source of essential information. Digitization of inventories, launched as a unique tool by the Studia Rudolphina Center in Prague, Czech Republic, raised important questions: How can digital technologies help to shape and advance the study of the arts at the court of Rudolf II Hapsburg and how the data visualization affects the data acquisition? With the help of XML TEI, graphs, advanced database search, spatial visualization, and close cooperation between art history and IT experts, a more accurate idea is created of how the collection of Emperor Rudolf II looked like.


Frustrated Austrians and Their Italian Art Bibliographies: Leopoldo Cicognara and Julius von Schlosser

Jeanne-Marie Musto, Independent Scholar, New York City

(Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 2:40 PM - 3:00 PM)

Analysis of two art bibliographies written a century apart – both composed in Italy by frustrated Austrians -- underlines the constitutive role of bibliography. Catalogo ragionato dei libri d’arte, published in 1821 by Leopolodo Cicognara, conveys his overriding concern with reclaiming Italy’s past glory. An enthusiast of the French Revolution, Cicognara was appointed President of the Venetian Academy of Fine Arts under Napoleon. He composed his bibliography during the Restoration period, in Habsburg Venice. Julius von Schlosser composed “Über die ältere Kunsthistoriographie der Italiener’ in an Italian resort in 1925, while chair of the “second” art history department at the University of Vienna. A citizen of the First Austrian Republic, Schlosser advocated Anschluss with Germany. Comparing these works underlines divergent relationships to an Italian nation and to the discipline of art history – neither of which were fully formulated in Cicognara’s day, and both of which were sites of conflict in Schlosser’s.


The Album Amicorum and the Ottoman Costume Book: Cooks, Messengers, and their Curated Collections

Robyn Dora Radway, Central European University

(Thursday, April 15, 2021, pre-recorded, Q&A at 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM)

On October 23, 1574, Adolph Stökhel carefully wrote his name and motto above a stock image of a Persian soldier in an album amicorum belonging to a cook employed by the Habsburg ambassador to the Ottoman court. The pair found themselves thrown together with high-ranking bureaucrats, noblemen, and humanists from Habsburg ruled lands across Europe who produced similar multi-media manuscripts. Such albums offer incredible insights onto the social and visual culture of imperial agents serving in a foreign empire from a vantage point usually inaccessible for scholars. The cook, Sebald Plan, collected a 187-folio album containing 61 images and over 250 signatures. This paper examines how the visual materials from Plan’s album relate to others collected and curated in the ambassador’s residence. Were there any guiding principles for the incorporation of visual materials? Can we detect shifts in quality, quantity, and contents based on the social status of album owners?


Staged State Formation and Dissolution in Gryphius’ Papinianus

Niels Nykrog, University of Copenhagen

(Thursday, April 15, 2021, 2:20 PM - 2:40 PM)

Andreas Gryphius’ 1657 Papinianus dramatizes the martyrological death of the Roman prefect Papinian at the hands of the fratricidal emperor Caracalla in 212 A.D. Himself a Lutheran syndic serving under Catholic Habsburg authorities in Silesia, Gryphius found in ancient Roman history a figure to reflect on the reason of state and morality of rulers of his own time. Influential political works of the period such as Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff’s 1655 Teutscher Fürstenstaat presented a new thinking of bureaucracy and state in their manmade historicity. This paper argues that Benjamin’s influential interest in figures of sovereignty in the Trauerspiele must be supplemented with a proper attention to the civil servant characters of these plays. This will enable us to read a play as Papinianus as Gryphius’ self conscious rendition of the historicity and fragility of state formation in the early modern German lands.


Protected in their Majesty”: Export Lacquer Reliquaries in Spanish Royal Convents

Samuel Luterbacher, Yale University

(Thursday, April 15, 2021, 2:20 PM - 2:40 PM)

The royal convents of the Descalzas Reales and of the Encarnación in Madrid hold some of the earliest pieces of Asian export lacquer in continental Europe. Transported back to the Peninsula via Iberian mercantile and missionary networks in Asia at the turn of the seventeenth century, these lacquered coffers and chests were reused as containers for the remains of Catholic saints in the convents' reliquary rooms. This paper will consider the reception of these objects in a Spanish royal ecclesiastical context while acknowledging Asian export lacquer’s production for a new global Iberian market. Powerful Habsburg women adapted lacquer’s ornamental and preservative qualities according to the religious and royal politics of display in the Counter-Reformation. In addition to the actual translation of lacquer containers into Catholic reliquaries, this paper also offers a more conceptual suggestion of its role in “preserving” the royal Habsburg body and lineage.


Agency and Unofficial Palace Factions: Mariana of Neuburg's German Entourage at the Madrid Court (1690–1700)

Valentina Marguerite Kozák, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

(Thursday, April 15, 2021, 2:40 PM - 3:00 PM)

This paper aims to analyze the agency of foreign courtiers within the closest entourage of the Spanish Queen consort Maria Anna of Palatine-Neuburg (1667–1740), Carlos II’s (1661–1700) second spouse, at the Madrid court. After the arrival of the Queen consort to Madrid in 1690, members of her retinue created an unofficial faction called the German Chamber, which represented the Palatinate-Neuburg’s interests at the Spanish court. This study will trace the activities of the German Chamber to analyze to which extent the political and diplomatic actions of its members were shaped by their status of foreigners in the Spanish Monarchy. My paper thus aims to complement the recent studies of the last decade of Spain’s last Habsburg monarch and the Spanish War of Succession, and to shed light on the unofficial mission pursued by the foreign members of the German faction at the Spanish court.


Politics and Cultural Transfer at the Spanish Court: Queen Marie-Louise of Savoy's Female Entourage

José Antonio López Anguita, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

(Thursday, April 15, 2021, 3:00 PM - 3:20 PM)

Marie-Louise of Savoy (1688–1714) became Queen of Spain in November 1701, when she married Philip V, the first Bourbon to rule the Spanish Monarchy. Although after her arrival in Madrid Marie-Louise’s household would include a large Spanish staff, her French entourage, in particular the French women led by the Princess of Ursins as her First Lady of the Bedchamber, always occupied a privileged position. This paper aims to analyze the role played by these foreign women close to Marie-Louise. Her case is especially important to understand the transition from Habsburg to Bourbon Spain within the court and through the lens of queens. My main interest is focused on their ability to encourage the Queen’s French tastes, as well as on their involvement in court politics in order to support the diplomatic and dynastic relations between the courts of Versailles and Madrid during the War of the Spanish Succession.


Ceremony, Art, Architecture, and the Exercise of Kingly Rule in the Spanish Habsburg Empire

Alejandra B. Osorio, Wellesley College

(Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 2:40 PM - 3:00 PM)

The notion that in the Spanish case, language was a companion of empire is a widely accepted commonplace. And while the Castilian Language (written and oral), made possible the creation of a common administrative, political and cultural idiom, ceremony, art and architecture were equally essential companions to the building, consolidating, running and ruling of the Spanish Empire. In fact, this modern empire is (should be) unthinkable without the new architectural structures that enclosed the continuous performance of official ceremonies, producing new spaces for monarchical rule and common life, while through their very production and performance, ceremonies shaped the ‘beliefs and understandings’ of participants and audiences, of community, life, death, empire, history, and the king. Through the analysis of royal ceremonies (births, exequies, marriages, entries, proclamations) in different locales, this paper underscores the workings, and centrality of ceremony, art and architecture in constituting, and ruling the worldwide seventeenth-century Spanish Habsburg world.


Mariana de Austria and Her Influence in the Order of the Golden Fleece (1665–77) Ondrej Lee Stolicka, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

(Wednesday, April 21, 2021, pre-recorded, Q&A at 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM)

After the death of Philip IV in 1665 Mariana de Austria gained power to lead the Hispanic monarchy until her son came of age. Even though she was a woman, Mariana could influence the patriarchal early modern world with her decisions. As for example the Order of the Golden Fleece, which had been seen as a strictly male military order until the second half of the twentieth century. However, Mariana de Austria took advantage of her position and successfully recommended several candidates put forth by Leopold I, the Emperor and her brother. As Spanish Kings before her, Mariana kept supporting with her favor the high positioned noblemen at the court in Vienna. Attention will be given to this relationship between the Queen and central European nobility.


The Origins of News Maps: Roman Prints of Ottoman-Habsburg Conflicts, 1532–41

Jessica E. Maier, Mount Holyoke College

(Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 10:20 AM - 10:40 AM)

First appearing in the 1530s, news maps were one of the earliest forms of visual reporting. Printed, often hastily, on single sheets of paper, these works portrayed current events in their geographical context. While a few are known depicting non-military events, the vast majority revolve around battles and sieges. This talk focuses on several of the earliest known examples, which were published in Rome and depict clashes between Ottoman and Habsburg forces in Austro-Hungary and the Mediterranean. From these modest origins the genre was soon to explode in popularity, becoming a key early form of the news. In these works, printmakers were responding to a growing demand for topical information from a public that wanted to know and make sense of recent events, to fit themselves into a larger narrative of unfolding history and place in the world.


Art and Propaganda in Habsburg Spain: Accessibility to the Royal Art Collections

Mercedes Alcalá Galán, University of Wisconsin–Madison

(Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 10:20 AM - 10:40 AM)

In the anonymous “Ode to El Escorial,” a peasant visits the art collection of El Escorial palace where he contemplates different pictures of portraits and heroic deeds that magnify the fame of the house of Habsburg until, in the last room, he encounters Felipe II himself, the artificer of the magnificent palace. Significantly, in a uniquely Spanish practice that would surprise foreign travelers, the fabulous collections of both the royalty and nobility were reasonably accessible to visitors. It is also worth noting that, in special festivities, remarkable paintings from the royal collection were exhibited in public view as if the gallery of paintings went out to the street to be admired by all. Thus, the royal collection of art, when made accessible, had an almost synecdochic function in associating the splendor of the collections to the crown, exalting the power of the monarchy through the material possession of art.


“Per averne cognizione”: Mid Sixteenth-Century Coin Collections as Drawn and Described by Jacopo Strada

Dirk Jacob Jansen, Forschungszentrum Gotha der Universität Erfurt
(Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 10:40 AM - 11:00 AM)

Jacopo Strada’s manuscript A.A.A. NumismatΩn Antiquorum Διασκευέ, a textual numismatic corpus complementing his better known drawings of Roman Imperial coins, provides detailed descriptions of the coins he saw during travels. In these he always indicates the owner of the best exemplar of a given coin type. Citing circa 70–80 names of collectors in Germany, France and Italy, it allows partially reconstruction and analysis of individual collections, in particular Strada’s own, and those whose owners—such as Antonio Agustín, Guillaume Du Choul, and Hans Jakob Fugger—gave him unlimited access. The paper addresses the character and reliability of Strada’s indications, presents some preliminary results of a quantitative analysis, and then focuses on the coin cabinet of Giulio Romano (praised by Vasari), discussing the use of medallic examples in Giulio’s architecture and decoration, and in how far Strada’s renderings reflect the numismatic method of his teacher, this most antiquarian-minded artist of the Renaissance.


Land in the Middle: Erasmus Francisci’s Semi-serious Conversation about the Ottoman-German Conflict over Hungary (1664)

Gerhild Scholz Williams, Washington University in St. Louis

(Thursday, April 22, 2021, 10:00 AM - 10:20 AM)

Erasmus Francisci’s "Von dem Türcken-Krieg” presents a conversation, one of several he wrote between 1663 and 1664, at the time of the defeat of the Turk and the Peace of Vasvar (1664). Two noblemen, the Hungarian Isthvansi and the German Levenfuß had met in a Herberge and a third, the comic relief Gaillard, sat down at the same table. Isthvansi notes that Gaillard’s talent at ridicule provides the salt and his jokes (“Schimpffreden”) the vinegar for their amusement. The destabilizing effect of the Ottoman attempt at playing Hungary off against Vienna by creating conflict in the border areas was felt for decades to come. A refugee from Hungary, Isthvansi strikingly represents the transnational and transgenerational dimensions of this European conflict.

Although on opposite sides of the argument, the two interlocutors are in no way hostile toward each other. Quite the opposite! As Cavalliers, they exchange views which, if not always in agreement, remain unfailingly reasonable and courteous. Gaillard’s nationality is never mentioned, though his name and his detailed knowledge of the Ottoman-European struggle as well as of its historical dimensions suggest that he is French and make him an equal partner in this conversation which I explore in my presentation.


Writing Rapidly in the Sixteenth-Century Chancellery

Megan K. Williams, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

(Thursday, April 22, 2021, 10:15 AM - 10:30 AM)

In 1538 former imperial Latin secretary Jacob Spiegel (1483–1547) of Sélestat published a legal lexicon intended to help orient his much younger half-brother, Johannes May (1502–36), in the Austrian Habsburg Latin Chancellery. Upon May's early death (from "all this continuous writing"?) Spiegel dedicated the lexicon to May's successor. This lexicon was a sixteenth-century legal best-seller. But more than a mere legal lexicon, this volume also discussed rubricization, note-taking, Tironian notes, paper usage, and chancellery practice. Using this lexicon and other, archival documentation, this paper will offer a brief glimpse at how Central European humanist chancellery personnel were trained in and practiced rapid writing techniques in a period during which paper-based documentation of governmental processes was expanding dramatically – yet a generation before what is generally seen as the birth of early modern shorthand in the manuals of Englishmen Timothy Bright or John Willis at the close of the sixteenth century.


Ambassadors and Merchants at the Tuscan Embassy in Madrid

Brian A Brege, Syracuse University

(Thursday, April 22, 2021, 10:40 AM - 11:00 AM)

Bound by intertwined dynastic, economic, religious, and military ties to the Spanish Habsburgs, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany maintained a substantial web of diplomats and agents across the Iberian Peninsula. Their activities extensively and intensively documented both in massive registers of correspondence and inventories of the Tuscan embassy in 1593, Tuscan agents not only provided the Medici court with a continuous stream of information, but also enabled the Medici to access the world of high finance and the private channels through which global goods flowed. This paper will show both how Florentine merchant families involved in finance and long-distance trade worked with the Medici state and how the Medici sought to use their official diplomatic network to behave analogously to other Florentine patrician families to access the burgeoning possibilities opened by the Spanish Empire.


Re-gendered Catholic Relics as Counter-Reformation Propaganda

Enrique Fernandez, University of Manitoba

(Thursday, April 22, 2021, 12:00 PM - 12:20 PM)

During the resurgence of the cult of relics during the Counter-Reformation, the rediscovery of the Roman catacombs resulted in new relics from remains unidentifiable as male or female. The nuns of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid, some members of the Habsburg family, gathered the so called "baptized relics": unidentified bodies of unknown sex that had been authenticated under allegorical names –female in Spanish and Latin—such as Gratia or Prudentia. They were adored as female martyrs and as embodiments of the virtues that powerful women should display in the battle against Protestantism. Another case are the bejeweled relics of Bavaria, also catacomb relics that were turned into statues gaudily adorned by nun to look as effeminate male warriors and female saints in manly armor, examples of how Catholics, independently of their sex, should conceive themselves as modern combatants against Protestantism.


The Giant, Siegfried: Material Evidence and Origin Stories in Early Modern Europe

Anita Guerrini, Oregon State University

(Thursday, April 22, 2021, 12:20 PM - 12:40 PM)

Long-dead bodies that were not even human were significant actors in defining the early modern state. Scholarly and popular opinion alike interpreted large bones found across Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as the remains of ancestral human giants. Focusing particularly on Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, who sought sought the bones of a giant Siegfried, this paper looks at the role played by fossil bones in the reinterpretation of ancient myths and the establishment of national identities. These supposed giant ancestors thus indicated a glorious national past, but also necessarily indicated that the present was not as glorious, since we were no longer giants. Far from being “other,” these monstrous bones represented a desirable, but lost, human status.


The Italian Peninsula within the Sixteenth Century Spanish Imperialism: Ideology, Geopolitics, and Governance

Seonghek Kang, Penn State University

(Thursday, April 22, 2021, pre-recorded, Q&A at 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM)

This paper examines the importance of the Italian domains in the 16th century Spanish Habsburg imperial project from the perspectives of ideology, geopolitics, and military-strategic dimensions. Mainly, the study analyzes the ideological significance of Italy during the early sixteenth century inter-dynastic competition, Italian contributions to the geopolitical security system of the Mediterranean, and the development of the institution of viceroyalty from the administrative experience in the peninsula. In addition, the paper further highlights the importance of the Spanish holdings in Italy as the historical bridge between the earlier, pre-unification medieval Iberian expansionism in the Mediterranean, and the mature consolidation of an imperial system that can be properly considered as 'early modern' and 'Spanish' in the 16th-17th centuries. Based on these overviews, the study argues that from the viewpoint of the Renaissance political theory of the empire, Spain only acquired its imperial hegemon status through its triumph in Italy, rather than the expansions in the Americas. The paper ultimately concludes that the development of key institutions and politico-cultural aspects that characterized the early modern Spanish Monarchy and its imperial system cannot be understood without taking into account the impact of acquiring Italian realms into its governing structure.


Publishing and Disseminating the Law in the Habsburg Netherlands during the 17th Century

Nicolas Simon, UCLouvain

(Thursday, April 22, 2021, 2:40 PM - 3:00 PM)

Recent historiography on the dissemination of legislation in early modern times has highlighted the crucial role played by printing. Both in France and in the Dutch Republic it is obvious that the political authorities have hired printers to ensure that the laws are properly disseminated. Surprisingly we don’t know much about that phenomenon in the early modern Habsburg Netherlands. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the central institutions based in Brussels has used printed texts in addition of handwritten ones to ensure that the laws are well disseminated. This presentation will highlight the distinctive phenomenon of the printing and dissemination of laws thanks to a large corpus of archives. Orality will not be forgotten, since although laws were widely printed, they were also published orally by town criers and in the presence of political authorities.