During the first half of the day, the presentations in the workshop centred on gender problematics and global approaches; the speakers of the second part of the workshop then zoomed in closely on interpersonal relationships and analysed specific cases. Alliances of international importance were created and assured through interpersonal relationships between individuals of supreme social status and political power. However, the many other individuals that populated the early modern court often remain invisible. Yet, these papers showed that the consideration of non-noble agents like advisers or some courtly staff members can shed more light on the modes of governance practiced in the courtly network.
Early modern courts were the centres of political power of their time and the locus of the gestation of modern state institutions. Hence, they are a crucial site for historical research. In investigating the courtly power system, however, historiography has often solely focused on the person of the ruler and his (rarely her) immediate political decision-making, thus excluding the social practices rooted in interpersonal relationships, which shaped such individual decisions, as well as entire polities in their own right. With the aim of analysing those less visible relations, the German Historical Institute in Paris (GHIP) hosted a workshop on March 5th and 6th 2015 with the title “Power relations in court societies. Marriage, concubinage, friendship, kinship, and patronage in historical perspective.” The organizers, Pascal Firges and Regine Maritz, invited five doctoral students from three different countries to present their research subjects for comments and discussions. Continue reading