Early modern aristocratic families were a dominant force in political, religious and cultural life throughout the early modern period. This conference aims to reconstruct the worldview and motives of these powerful and influential individuals and families by focusing on their dynastic identities. The self-definition of these aristocrats focused on claims of eternity and universality (as Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann recently defined it). Aristocrats developed a sense of lineage and continuity between past, present and future generations. The main premise of this conference is that these identities were shaped by and influenced the behavior of the powerful aristocratic elite with regard to political, religious and cultural issues.
So far, these identities have been studied mostly for ruling dynasties. However, exclusive identities were not just a prerogative of the “great dynasties - as for instance the Habsburgs - they were carefully cultivated and promoted by noble houses throughout Europe. During this conference speakers from all over Europe will shed light on the dynastic identities of aristocrats from Ireland to Bohemia, and from Sweden to Italy.
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