Towards a New Political History of the Court, c. 1200-1800

Delineating Practices of Power in Gender, Culture, and Sociability

International Conference, 15–16 November 2018

German Historical Institute Paris
Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris
Institut historique allemand Paris

Image: “Louis XIV, à cheval, devant la grotte de Thétys“, c. 1680, anonymous painter. Source : Wikimedia Commons.

Dynastic centres, or courts, played a pivotal role in the state building processes out of which developed our modern political practices and institutions. Yet, for a long time, the court was regarded primarily as the field of anecdotal ‘petite histoire’ and consequently neglected by scholarly research. In recent years, however, the exploration of the dynastic centre made considerable progress, as historians sought to build on, and go beyond, the venerable sociological models of Norbert Elias. The exploration of symbolic communication, patronage, micro-politics, gender, the body, materiality, and transculturality are only some of the innovative approaches that have been brought to bear on the subject of court history and they have produced remarkable results. We now understand that the court was a multifaceted space for innovation in the arts, and sciences, in religious and political thought, as well as a central hub for the deployment of power relationships. But how do these different aspects interact? And how do these new approaches modify our current understanding of, for instance, state-building narratives? Do they suggest new chronologies, and do we consequently have to rewrite traditional textbook narratives in order to reflect these new impulses? Building on such questions, this conference invites its participants to reflect and discuss on how to conceptualize the political dimension of courtly culture and sociability in the context of a new political historiography of the court.


See here for the detailed program.

Participants and Papers

See here for a list of participants and their abstracts.

Call for Papers

See here for the Call for Papers.

Information about the Venue

Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris
Institut historique allemand
German Historical Institute

Hôtel Duret-de-Chevry
8 rue du Parc-Royal
75003 Paris

Politics and Sociability in a Transcultural Context: The Diplomatic Milieu in Istanbul during the Long Eighteenth Century

by Lennart Gard

Workshop report, first published in: H-Soz-Kult, 20th December, 2017, <>.

The workshop took place at the German Historical Institute under the direction of DAVID DO PAÇO (Paris) and PASCAL FIRGES (Paris) and explored the mechanisms of diplomacy in a transcultural context: It focussed on the social life of the diplomatic milieu of Istanbul from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Thus, it aimed at collecting further evidence for the centrality of this city in the European diplomatic system. Besides that, it highlighted the role of the various “intermediaries”, “brokers”, and “proxies” diplomats had to rely on in their day-to-day work, as well as the multiple interactions between the diplomatic milieu and its social environment. In his introductory remarks, David Do Paço emphasized the relevance of an agency-centered approach to diplomatic history because it takes into account the importance of second-row personnel and the interrelatedness of sociability and political negotiations.

Continue reading “Politics and Sociability in a Transcultural Context: The Diplomatic Milieu in Istanbul during the Long Eighteenth Century”

Final Report on My Visiting Scholarship for Master’s Students, by Monett Reißig

Monett Reißig’s Experience of the Visiting Scholarship for Master’s Students at the German Historical Institute

Monett Reißig

Last year, I was lucky enough to participate in the German Historical Institute’s (GHI) visiting scholarship programme for master’s students. The students receive a monthly allowance of 1.200€ from the institute for this research residency, which was in my case aimed at master’s research projects that focused on the early modern period and related to Dr. Firges’ working group on “Practices of Power and Interpersonal Relationships at Dynastic Centres (1500–1800)”. As my tutor told me about the programme, in summer 2015, I already had received a positive answer for a one-year scholarship programme from the German Bundestag and the French National Assembly and was thus already on site in Paris for the interview. The interview at the GHI gave me the opportunity to discuss the contents and duration of the residency and I could thankfully arrange for it to start right after the end of my internship at the Assemblée Nationale. Continue reading “Final Report on My Visiting Scholarship for Master’s Students, by Monett Reißig”

Final Report on My Visiting Scholarship for Master’s Students, by Stephanie Bode

The German Historical Institute in Paris (GHI) awards visiting scholarships to selected master’s students in order to give them a better insight into central aspects of the academic career. Stephanie Bode has been awarded such a visiting scholarship and following is her report on her stay at the GHI.

Working title of the MA-thesis: “Security Strategies in Court Society. Short- and Long-Term Factional Politics During the Late Reign of Louis XIV”. Stephanie Bode (Marburg University)

Image: Le roy accepte le testament du feu roy catholique Charles II. et déclare.., Bibliothèque nationale de France, RESERVE FOL-QB-201 (75), Public Domain

The Student-in-Residence-Program offers students who consider applying for a PhD the opportunity to deepen and broaden their research experience. Visiting fellows are actively involved in one of the research groups at the GHI while still being allowed to work on their own research projects. The participation in the research group “Practices of Power and Interpersonal Relationships at Dynastic Centres (1500–1800)” meant that I attended team meetings and the reading group, both of which gave me the opportunity to discuss relevant research questions with experienced researchers and I greatly benefited from this exchange. As my own research topic was closely linked to the group’s research interests, I got very helpful advice for my own project. As well as being able to exchange thoughts and ideas, I was allowed to gain an excellent insight into the research process in general. For instance, I gained some insight into how to maximize the potential of a chosen research project, by using different methodologies. Regular meetings with Pascal Firges, head of the research group, gave me new inspiration and encouragement.

Continue reading “Final Report on My Visiting Scholarship for Master’s Students, by Stephanie Bode”

International Practice Workshop: Interpersonal Relations in Court Societies. Theory and Methodology in Practice

This workshop was held on the 22 March 2016 at the German Historical Institute Paris. The workshop seeked to support the production of empirically well-grounded studies, which apply theoretical and methodological approaches in a creative manner. This practice workshop of the GHI’s research group on “Practices of Power and Interpersonal Relationships at Dynastic Centres (1500-1800)” aimed to discuss the application of innovative theories and methodologies to various subjects in the bourgeoning field of historical court studies. During the one-day workshop every participant had to present one of their texts, which were distributed beforehand to all contributors, followed by constructive discussions. For a detailed report of the workshop, please go to: