Europe’s past is overwhelmingly monarchical, yet the monarchies that remained in place at the end of the Second World War hardly resembled those that governed Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. Modernity transformed monarchy from a matter of fact into one of opinion, and enabled moving from a world where everything was sacred to one where all was profane. If words, then, remained the same – along with many of the families, their properties and places of residence – their meaning changed profoundly overtime and across countries. This is so much so that, along the centuries, European monarchy as an institution seems unrecognisable to any attentive observer. Even so, the present academic literature seldom measures the distance between monarchy’s various historical meanings and manifestations.
In theoretical and speculative disciplines, the lack of inquiry into monarchy’s significance is due partly to disciplinary divisions. Political theorists and intellectual historians rarely delve into the subject of monarchy, while historians of monarchy tend to focus on chronology and rarely ask questions pertaining to monarchy as a concept. Monarchism’s own nature has in part determined these divisions. Due to its providentialist foundations in the divine right of kings, monarchism is a double paradox, a form of political theory that is at once anti-political and anti-theoretical. Innovatively, this conference seeks to break disciplinary barriers by combining the outlooks of monarchical specialists on the one hand, and of social, cultural, and political theorists on the other.
Proceeding from the premise that the nature of things is best known, and their development most determined, during critical times, this conference centers on three (long) key moments in the history of modern European monarchy: the English Revolution, the French Revolution, and the mainstreaming of republicanism during the first half of the twentieth century. These moments, however, are only referential, and presentations studying the reinvention, representation and conceptualisation of monarchy during other modern periods, from 1500 to the present, are also welcome, with Renaissance subjects possibly serving as introits and contemporary ones as epilogues to the conference.
The main lines of inquiry are twofold, one directed at monarchy’s political significance, and the other at its socio-cultural, psychological, religious and spiritual roles. The political-conceptual line of inquiry can include – without being limited to – European monarchy’s historical relationship to legislation and the administration of justice, as well as democratic, republican, and aristocratic traditions. The theological/sociological/anthropological perspective is instead concerned with monarchy as a series of rituals and formal procedures that represent sovereignty, organise time and relationships, lend nations a sense of identity, and connect individuals emotionally with sacred spaces and powers, especially as represented by the Catholic and Protestant religions.
Contributions may address one or more of the following themes but are not limited to them:
- Monarchy in political thought
- The relationship between spiritual and temporal powers
- Royalism vs. monarchism
- National and sovereign representation
- Monarchy and property
- Monarchy in its relation with religion, theology and spirituality
- The royal imaginary
- Royal rituals
- Women and monarchy
We invite proposals for 20-minute presentations, which will be revised subsequently for publication in a peer-reviewed collective volume. Graduate students are welcome to participate, and papers in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish are accepted, although English is encouraged to facilitate communication. The conference will be held at the University of Cambridge on 8-9 January 2019. Please email a 200-word abstract and one-page CV to Carolina Armenteros (firstname.lastname@example.org), Philippe Barthelet at email@example.com, Matthijs Lok at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Andrew Thompson (email@example.com) by 15 June 2018.