Over the past three decades, access to the monarch has emerged as an increasingly important theme in scholarship on early modern courts. In a society still highly dependent on the authority of a single ruler, and therefore subject to such volatile variables as princely favour and patronage, the ability to live, work or spend time in physical proximity to the monarch could become a vital asset in the struggle for individual and familial advancement and, in many cases, political power. In this perspective, different forms of access corresponded to different levels of political influence and favour. It is therefore scarcely surprising that the notion of access and its importance for our understanding of the courtfs power system have been intensively debated. Control of access was long thought to have equated with control of power within the monarchy.
More recently, others have contended that access was a lot more flexible, diffuse and transitory than is often accounted for. Although the notion has thus dominated historical writing on court politics, scholars have still not recovered the full meaning of access within court societies. This colloquium aims to broaden the debate by consciously moving towards the more expansive notion of the culture of access. By taking into account palace architecture, spatial arrangements, court ceremonial, material culture and the arts, this approach enables us to
achieve a much more nuanced and complete understanding of the ways in which access functioned in day]to]day court life.
Date: 8-9 November 2012
Venue: University of Antwerp (Belgium)
Dr. Dries Raeymaekers
University of Antwerp
Department of History
Prinsstraat 13 / Room D.323
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