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Dynasties: Family Politics in Medieval Europe by Robert Bartlett

April 24, 2017 - April 27, 2017
Medieval History Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

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Public Lecture 1

Monday 12 September 2016 @ 7 pm

The J.M. Synge Theatre, Arts Building Room 2039


Lectures 2–4

Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 September 2016 @ 5.30 pm

About the series:

Monarchies are now rare in the world, numbering around twenty in a system of almost 200 independent states, but for hundreds of years monarchy was the way that politics worked in most countries. And monarchy meant power was in the hands of a family – a dynasty – and hence politics was family politics. It was not elections or referenda that shaped political life, but the births, marriages and deaths of the ruling family. This added further unpredictability to the unpredictable business of ruling.

These lectures discuss this past reality systematically as it is found in mediaeval Europe. Starting with a general lecture examining the issue from the point of view of the life cycle of marriage, birth and death, the later talks focus on specific aspects of the dynastic system: the possibility of female rule; the unpredictable intrusion of pretenders, who claimed to be (perhaps falsely) long-lost members of ruling dynasties; and the way that names, the numbering of rulers and the visual display of heraldry expressed a sense of belonging to a dynasty. 

Public Lecture 1: Dynasties: Family Politics In Mediaeval Europe [Pete, this is title both for the series and for the general public lecture] 

Lecture 2: The First Female Sovereigns in Mediaeval Europe 

Lecture 3: Pretenders and Returners: Dynastic Imposters in the Middle Ages 

Lecture 4: A Sense of Dynasty: Names, Numbers and Family Trees 

Distinguished guest participants:

  • Dr Stuart Airlie, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Sverre Bagge, University of Bergen
  • Dr Ana Rodríguez, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Spanish National Research Council
  • Dr Katharine Simms, FTCD (Emerita)
  • Professor Nicholas Vincent, University of East Anglia

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