Reinventing Aristocracy Seminar
Date: 11th December 2019
Time: 12 noon – 1pm.
Place: Milldam LE. 103
Everyone is welcome to join us for an interdisciplinary series of presentations on ideas of early-modern and eighteenth-century aristocracy in England, North America and Poland. Light refreshments will be provided.
We would love to see you there. See below for the programme.
Reinventing Aristocracy – Programme
- Negotiating relationships and lineage in the English aristocratic family c.1450-1620
Family life in the sixteenth century was often destabilised by deaths and subsequent remarriages, which led to the reconstitution of family groups. Aristocratic families could take advantage of these changes by forming new relationships and networks, but they had to negotiate these in a society that valued lineage and dynasty as justifications of power and status. Could familial affection develop under these circumstances and can studying aristocratic families enable historians to investigate family life in society more broadly?
- “North America without Aristocracy? Reinventing hierarchy in the aftermath of revolution.”
Aristocracy, and certainly nobility, were not a significant political feature of colonial North America, and became actively despised through the course of the American Revolution. Yet in the polities that emerged from the imperial crisis, social and political status was asserted in a variety of ways that drew upon discourses of aristocracy circulating in the late eighteenth-century Atlantic World.
- Enlightenment Britain and Polish Aristocracy: the case of Thaddeus of Warsaw
Poland’s partition in the 1790s and the heroic, if doomed, attempts by Polish patriots to preserve the country’s independence produced a sea-change in British ideas about the Commonwealth. A nation which had long been associated with a corrupt, aristocratic form of domination came, rather suddenly, to be viewed as an emblem of freedom and liberty. Using Jane Porter’s hugely popular 1803 novel Thaddeus of Warsaw as a case study, the presentation will explore the key features of this shift and examine its wider significance for our understanding of late- and post-Enlightenment conceptions of aristocracy.