Princely Funerals in Europe 1400–1700: Commemoration, Diplomacy and Political Propaganda ed. by Monique Chatenet, Murielle Gaude-Ferragu, and Gérard Sabatier (review) - Archive ouverte HAL Accéder directement au contenu
Article Dans Une Revue Journal of Interdisciplinary History Année : 2021

Princely Funerals in Europe 1400–1700: Commemoration, Diplomacy and Political Propaganda ed. by Monique Chatenet, Murielle Gaude-Ferragu, and Gérard Sabatier (review)

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Résumé

In the aftermath of Brexit, is it wise to leave English-language scholarship about the history of early modern Europe’s principal funeral ceremonies in the hands of the European Union? This coffee-table book from a Belgian firm with three French co-editors offers a salutary warning. Its subtitle contains the word diplomacy, which one rarely encounters in its sixteen articles. It has two hallmarks of pretentious ornamental books—abundant illustrations (twenty-one roman-numeral color plates and sixty black/white figures) and redundant scholarship (sixteen separate bibliographies, with many overlapping titles)—which imperfectly conceal its academic limitations. Its organization by centuries seems almost quaint, and its footnotes reveal that most of the contributors reworked earlier publications about related topics. Most of these articles describe funeral practices in Francophone regions or the Italian peninsula. None of the contributors comes from Germany, the fifteenth-century princely funerals of which receive their interpretations from Moscow. Although two color plates (VII, XIV) come from Viennese archives, the funeral practices of the Austrian Habsburgs from Maximilian I to Leopold I remain unexplored. More seriously, England, which originated and still preserves Europe’s best collection of royal funeral effigies, disappears from the volume after a calamitous fifteenth century with three royal murders and two re-burials; the corpse of another royal (Richard III) was famously discovered under an urban car park (and similarly re-buried) only a few years ago (103). This dismal record is almost equaled two chapters later by the quattrocento dukes of Milan, whose founder was officially buried seventy years after his death (126–129). Two of his early successors were murdered, one in church [End Page 440] and the third (probably) poisoned by his uncle and successor about a decade after England’s Edward V was secretly murdered by his uncle and successor (131–132). The book seldom emphasizes the fundamental religious dimensions of early modern Europe’s princely funeral ceremonies. The post-Tridentine Catholic Reformation makes a belated appearance in the book’s final section with the French funeral ceremonies for Louis XIII and XIV, followed by the ceremony for their ultra-Catholic Spanish cousin Philip IV. The earlier Protestant Reformation remains invisible, however, until a retrospective sketch of a century of Protestant funeral practices introduces two minor princely Protestant funerals that form the rearguard of this academic procession (315–320). The book’s sixteen bibliographies inadvertently suggest the continuing importance of Giesey’s application of Kantorowicz’s theory about the king’s two bodies to early modern French royal funerals.1 It makes an appearance in exactly half of the bibliographies (56, 72, 152, 182, 207, 220, 271, 325), invariably in its much later French translation but is discussed, briefly, only twice.2 Chatenet dismisses its main argument as “extremely simplistic” (185), although the next chapter sketches the international spread of crowned funeral effigies as offering “a way . . . of confirming instantaneous dynastic succession” through a physical Doppelgänger (210–211). It immediately offers vivid confirmation of the continuing use of such royal Doppelgängers at English state funerals by noting Westminster Abbey’s preservation of clothing for the 1603 effigy of Europe’s first deceased female Protestant monarch (211, n.3). This item cannot be found among the book’s eighty-plus illustrations, although an online search soon located an image of the girdle for Elizabeth I’s effigy. Given such shortcomings, why might readers wish to purchase and use this book? Its more stimulating parts include scattered information about the medieval custom of bringing the deceased prince’s horses into church for his funeral service (114–115), a practice begun in mid-thirteenth-century England and Flanders and later limited in the 1430 Savoyard law code to ten horses for princes and four for barons (146–147). The subsequent elaborately equipped but riderless “funeral horses” (Klagross or Leibross) of imperial princes and...
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hal-03881679 , version 1 (01-12-2022)

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Monique Chatenet, Murielle Gaude-Ferragu, Gérard Sabatier. Princely Funerals in Europe 1400–1700: Commemoration, Diplomacy and Political Propaganda ed. by Monique Chatenet, Murielle Gaude-Ferragu, and Gérard Sabatier (review). Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2021. ⟨hal-03881679⟩
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