Forging diplomacy abroad and at home : French festival culture in a European context, 1572-1615
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This doctoral thesis is the first to examine the attempts of the late Valois and early Bourbon rulers of France to make strategic use of festival culture for maintaining national and international relations. It focuses on the period between the Anglo-French Treaty of Blois in 1572 and the Habsburg-Bourbon double marriage in 1615. This research starts from the premise that previous scholarship has given too much credence to royal accounts of festive and ceremonial events, as printed in official commemorative books, and has tended to ignore the conflicting responses of various other players (ambassadors, nobles, generals, scholars, students, and, occasionally, commoners) who attended these events and often advanced very different ambitions, goals, and interests. It seeks in particular to gain a fuller grasp of the reception of festival culture by comparing the intended effects of the ideas, tools, and strategies that French rulers employed with the actual effects they had on stakeholders. Its main concerns are thus twofold: first, the relationship, and frequent tension, between the theories and practices of using festivals and individual festivities for alleged diplomatic purposes, and second, the way in which both formal festivals and ad-hoc festivities functioned as sites where multiple domestic and foreign concerns intersected with or, more often, diverged from, as well as among, each other. The thesis adopts a comparative approach to the topic, analysing pairs of festivals alongside one another and comparing different accounts of those festivals. It draws extensively on a wide range of contemporary sources, many of them previously overlooked, including formal and informal eyewitness accounts, theoretical treatises, and memoirs written in French, English, Dutch, Italian, German, and Latin. What the thesis demonstrates is how both non-French and unofficial sources can help develop a more nuanced view of French festival culture and its diplomatic functioning in a wider European context.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-05-10
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 10th May 2024
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