A Scottish Enigma? Scottish Royal Funeral Ceremonies from c. 1214 – 1542

Lucinda Dean

“A good funeral projected a sense of crisis, finally overcome by the restoration of order with the successor’s accession.” Though the accession of an adult monarch was a rarity in Scotland, making Buc’s statement (2001) at first sight seem unlikely to be quantifiable, the very instability caused by the minorities that plagued the Scottish monarchy required that the funeral acted as a legitimizing tool in the continual claim of royal control and projection of authority. From 1214 to 1542 there are twelve funerals of monarchs which occur in Scotland, not to mention numerous consorts and regents, such as Robert, Duke of Albany (d.1420) and Marie de Guise (d.1560), yet few have left an obvious mark in the records or been discussed at any length in the current historiography. There are perhaps two funerals which are best served with key sources: that of James V (d.1542), which has been discussed by Andrea Thomas and others, has financial records covering it and proof of the use of an effigy in the proceedings; whilst the other is that of Robert the Bruce (d.1329), for which there is predominantly untapped material in the Exchequer Rolls. The funeral ceremonies between these two and prior to that of Robert I appear to have passed by the attention of historians but the tide is being turned. This paper, coming from an AHRC funded PhD on the continuities and changes of the representations of royal authority of the Scottish monarchy through state ceremonial from c. 1200 to c. 1603, intends to discuss the initial findings into an ongoing investigation into the treatment of the royal body in death in Scotland, and what this can reveal about the concept of sacral monarchy as it was understood by the Scottish monarchs across this time period.

Music and Ceremonial at Royal Funerals: from Elizabeth I to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Matthias Range

Since the form and order of the funeral service is provided for in the Book of Common Prayer, a royal funeral is more regulated than other great royal occasions, such as for instance a coronation. Music has always been an important port of royal funerals and this paper will explore the role and function of music at those events. It will be seen that the music is not a mere decoration of the ceremony but distinctly contributes to its structure and character. Indeed, it is the musical part of the funerals that points to some significant changes in the overall ceremonial.

It has been observed that after the grand state funeral of Mary II in 1694 royal funerals became more private events, reappearing as great state occasions only in the twentieth century. Intriguingly, however, it was at the ‘private’ eighteenth century funerals that there occurred an unprecedented elaboration of the music with the introduction of a grand orchestral anthem; these works will be presented and discussed in their cultural and political context.

In any case, over the last two centuries funerals have been the most conservative of royal occasions. In contrast to other royal occasions they have hardly ever included any newly written pieces. The 1997 funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, with the inclusion of Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’, was a notable exception to this rule.

By examining the place and role of music in the overall ceremonial of royal funerals, this paper will highlight one very important change that affected the nature of these events: the change of emphasis and attention from the actual funeral service away to pre-burial memorial services – with those for the Princess of Wales and for the late Queen Mother as the most prominent recent examples. While the latter may at first appear like a twentieth-century ‘invented tradition’, this paper will show that there are indeed some historic precedents.

Overall, this paper will show that, despite being so regulated by Prayer Book, tradition, and established custom, the ceremonial arrangements of royal funerals have, over the last four centuries, always been rather ‘flexible’ and readily adoptable to respond to specific circumstances.

The experience of royal deaths in Ferdinand the Catholic’s Court

Germán Gamero Igea

The experience of a royal relative death was relatively common throughout Ferdinand the Catholic’s life, and its importance was so strong that we can link these deaths with his features in government. First of all, the death of his half-brother, the Prince of Viana, supposed his emergence on the political scene.  Shortly after, the death of his mother Juana Enríquez, Ferdinand assumed the lieutenancy in the Crown of Aragón. Finally, the sudden death of Henry IV in Castilla broke out a civil war and a dynastic crisis, and he upholds the aspirations of his wife Elizabeth. This clash strengthened his royal position, in one hand, regarding his wife and her courtier faction (as we can see in the modification of the Treaty of Segovia), and on the other hand, in order to his relationship with the Spaniards nobles, taking up more intensely the strengthening of royal power.

Another interesting aspect of the Ferdinand’s relatives losses is its expression in the royal court. During his life, the prince John, his eldest daughter and grandson (Elizabeth and the infant Michael), and even his great companion, his wife Elizabeth I, died. The perspective we propose to apply in the study of these deaths is twofold. Firstly the point of view from the political theory, due to the importance of the concept of dynasty in the Aragón’s government ideology (some authors have referred to the Crown of Aragon as a dynastic state, rather than a monarchical). This viewpoint leads us to analyze the symbolic preservation of the dead, studying the ritual dimension (by commemorations), the material culture (by the interest shown in their graves) and the composition of the Court, through the admission of new courtiers (who proceded from the relative dead).

Secondly, near to the dynastic exaltation, it’s interesting to emphasize the standpoint about the memory of members from the family. In this sense it could be fascinating study the different mechanisms which represented the dead , and especially them which are related with the use of the material culture. In this regard it may be noted the clearly symbolic use of certain objects of which Ferdinand decides to surround himself to remember their loved ones. Especially helpful could be the study of royal inventories, which provide us an overview of the memory of the monarchs within the Court, which allows us to complete the studies on royal memory in other spaces: the mausoleums.

The Literature of Royal Loss in 1660: Poems on the Death of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester

John West

1660 was a year of royal restoration but it was also a year of royal loss. On September 13, Charles II’s younger brother, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, died suddenly of smallpox aged twenty. His death prompted an outpouring of verse elegies (at least one seemingly printed on the very same day of his death) as well as prose histories and biographies. Some authors of these works had only a few months earlier, however, been celebrating the king’s return to English shores alongside his brothers. Drawing from the on-going research of the Stuart Successions Project, which is investigating writing printed at moments of succession from 1603 to 1702, this paper will examine the poetic responses to Henry’s death in the context of the royal panegyric which immediately preceded it. It will trace the transformations in tone and imagery which took place between these bodies of writing and argue that the literature of royal loss in 1660 reveals how the Restoration may be understood as a complex process the meanings of which required constant revision.

Many poets described the return of Charles II as a providentially inspired triumph of order over chaos. In presenting Henry as a sacrifice for the nation’s sins of the previous decade, however, the elegies register an accruing sense that atonement had not been achieved and that providence was not so easily interpreted. The responses disclose an uncertainty about the fate of the restored regime that particularly focussed on succession and lineage. 1660, after all, witnessed not simply the return of the King but also the royal family. Panegyrists drew attention to Charles’ arrival alongside his siblings, and their representation of this family unit emphasised the regime’s long-term security through several potential heirs. As second in line to the throne, the death of Henry threw such representations into doubt. Indeed, the recurrent image that poets employed of a tree having its branches cut away subjected the symbol of the royal oak – so important in narratives of Charles’ return – to mutilation and violence. What is more, in focussing on Henry’s biography, writers could potentially draw attention to paradigms of royal authority alternative to Charles II: Henry’s Protestant loyalism is alluded to so frequently as to suggest that a pointed contrast was being made to Charles’ own religious allegiances which were already viewed by some as suspect.

The literary response to royal death in 1660 highlights the fragility of the restored regime in its infancy by juxtaposing revival and return against depletion and loss. In so doing, however, it also reveals alternative versions of what the Restoration could have been and could yet be. Royal loss inevitably challenged the cultural and political values that had been attached to the restored monarchy. But it also provided a prism through which those values could be productively, and maybe controversially, re-imagined.

Stratigraphies of Grief and Archaeologies of Mourning: James I as Monument Maker

Tiffany Christensen

From the tender and mournful monuments to the small Princess Sophia and the infant Princess Mary to the politically charged monuments to Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots, James I engineered the concepts of memory, place and emotives to assert varying social, political and emotional paradigms. James I conveyed his conceptualization of the deceased into an interpretation that was conferred upon the public memory. The variance exhibited in the monuments that were commissioned by James I relay a profound understanding of the efficacy of monuments as a display of pragmatic authority and humanity. In juggling the ideas of ‘monument as place’ and ‘monument as objects’ in a gentle rhythm, James I was able to create monuments that were metaphors for the world that he perceived to be both present and valuable; royal interpretations of religion, politics, culture and dynastic right. It was through these monuments that James I left a keen insight into the institutions that fueled both himself and other Jacobin nobility. These monuments even touch a finger to the popular sentiments of the era. Predominantly, funerary monuments were a form of social, political and theological discourse. They served as agents of both stability and change throughout the Reformation. Their role as cultural indicators allows for a broader interpretive climate to be established within the context of noble post-Reformation culture. The monuments themselves have implications that span far beyond death and burial, art and sculpture and epitaphs and heraldry. The monuments made figurative ideas like grief, succession, social status and individualism concrete. James I also utilized this reification of ideas to create a panoply of monuments that shore up a household that was acquainted with grief and embattled against hints of dynastic illegitimacy. James I thrust in the chisel of the greatest monument makers of the era to send into the future the tangible memory of his culture, his birthright and his troubled heart.

‘Absent in body but present in spirit’: prince Leopold’s ghost and the Victorian monarchy

Gita Deneckere

‘Absent in body but present in spirit’ is inscribed on the monument that Queen Victoria erected in memory of her dearest Uncle Leopold, ‘who held a father’s place in her affection’. Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who in 1831 became the first king of the Belgians, died December 10, 1865. He was buried in Laken, near Brussels, in the vault where his second spouse, Louise of Orléans, had already rested for fifteen years. The royal burial took place in the most painful of circumstances. All pressure of the clergy to convert to Catholicism notwithstanding, the king remained true to his Lutheran faith on his deathbed. The archbishop prevented the protestant clergy from celebrating a funeral service in the Catholic church where Louise lay buried. For at time it remained unclear whether the king’s body would be granted passage through the church at all. A hole was made in a wall of the ‘neutralized’ (desecrated) vault in order to guarantee that the royal remains could be carried inside even if the clergy remained stubborn. ‘That atrocious Catholic Clergy!’, Victoria wrote to her daughter, ‘Nasty Beggars!’ She was also very upset that Uncle Leopold’s repeatedly expressed wish to rest near his beloved Charlotte in St George’s Chapel at Windsor couldn’t be fulfilled. The founder of the Belgian dynasty had to be buried in Belgian soil, in the name of national remembrance.

The white marble effigy of Leopold, in bas-relief lying on a bier, carried by a lion and flanked by two angels with the escutcheons of Britain and Belgium, was manufactured by the Victorian sculptress Susan Durant in 1867. It was placed in St George’s Chapel next to Matthew Wyatt’s monument dedicated to princess Charlotte, who died tragically on November 6, 1817, fifty years earlier, at the age of 21, the day after she had given birth to Leopold’s stillborn son.

What if fate hadn’t struck the tremendously popular couple, the People’s Princess and her handsome but poor German Consort so ruthlessly? The history of England and Belgium might have taken a completely different turn. At least, so it seems at first sight.  In 1819 both the later Queen Victoria and her beloved Albert were born. They were both cousins of Leopold, who not only took care of both their educations, but also arranged their marriage. The memory of Charlotte played an important part in his preparation of the young Victoria for the throne of the most powerful nation in the world. In a way, she had to replace ‘the Queen that was to have been’ and thus associate the feelings of affection and loss the nation still felt with ‘the new Queen that is’. Like Leopold himself, his profound influence on the foundations of the modern British monarchy is largely forgotten. In 1879 his monument in St George’s was transferred to Christ Church in Esher (Surrey), where he lived with Charlotte. Today it is secluded from public view.

In my paper for the conference, a close reading of the monuments that were erected to the memory of Charlotte and Leopold in England will shed new light on the continuity between their deaths in 1817 en 1865 respectively. The ‘family romance’ of the despised Saxe-Coburgs and the tragic private life of Leopold himself, unlocked by his prolific personal correspondence, offer an underestimated, perhaps even publicly repressed missing link in the understanding of the transformations of royalty from George IV and the Hanovers to the reign of Victoria and Albert.

Gita Deneckere is professor of social history at Ghent University, Belgium. In September 2011 she published Leopold I. De eerste koning van Europa (Antwerpen, Bezige Bij, 736 pages) that will be translated into English in the near future.

“As One House of Mourning”: Royal Deaths and the Eighteenth Century Provincial Town

Dan O’ Brien

a sombre appearance, that could not fail of exciting those feelings of regret for our late Sovereign which all classes have been emulous in showing

[a description of the streets of Bristol, in mourning for George III]

In Eighteenth Century England the tragedy and loss of a death in the royal household was felt far beyond the environs of the capital, by the inhabitants of provincial towns and cities. These communities staged elaborate public acts of mourning to express the sense of loss which they collectively felt and to acknowledge the transferral of power which would surely follow. Shops suspended trading, bells were rung continuously and funerary decorations adorned public spaces from the streets to churches.  This paper proposes to examine how this behaviour enabled provincial communities to define their relationship with the metropolis whilst refining their own, often-transforming identities. This examination will focus upon gestures of mourning performed throughout England in the closing decades of the long-Eighteenth Century, a period when provincial communities were thriving as a result of industrial growth and urbanisation. It is anticipated that the response to the deaths of individuals such as King George III and Princess Charlotte will demonstrate that mourning represented more than a mere acknowledgement of a national event.

‘Mourning and succession in the provinces: north eastern responses to royal death, 1861-1953’

Ben Roberts

The marking of royal death in the north east of England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was geographically limited by distance. Although the development of the rail network had made all parts of the country accessible within a day’s travel, the reality was that for most people in the area, participation in many of the rituals associated with royal death (attending a lying-in-state or witnessing the funeral cortege) was impossible. Although the press enabled the communities of the north to stay informed of what was happening in the capital, royal death still remained a distant and remote occurrence. Therefore, without the physical presence of royalty, the church and the town council played important roles in reinforcing observance of the occasion, ensuring appropriate levels of decorum were struck and opportunities were made for public grief to be expressed.

The proposed paper uses the example of Darlington and Middlesbrough to demonstrate the level of local government involvement in the observance of royal deaths. This was achieved through the staging of civic memorial services, the decoration of public buildings in funereal accoutrements, sombre civic processions to mark the occasion and municipal encouragement for the normal functions of civic life to be suspended. The paper will also highlight the centrality of the ceremony marking the proclamation of a new monarch in the civic grieving process. This highly ritualised act served as the main indication of the death of a reigning sovereign in a provincial manner.

Despite these various methods of ensuring civic observance of royal death, it is undeniable that public interest fluctuated and some deaths received more acknowledgement than others. This changing response over the time frame in question will be highlighted by utilising local press reports to indicate just how widely royal death affected public life in the industrial north. The picture will be added to by contrasting the response of the public to the deaths of reigning monarchs (Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V and George VI) with those of consorts and heirs (Prince Albert, the Duke of Clarence, Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary.) It will be recognised that a decline in deference in the latter period contributed to a reduction in public interest. However this accompanied a development in the level of ritual associated with the succession proclamation ceremony in the two towns; suggesting that interest was being sustained. The paper will also recognise the role of the radio in reducing the need of civic ritual to feel connected to collective grief patterns, as the public could bypass the civic and engage directly with national mourning. The topic will also be briefly contrasted with expressions of grief following the deaths of local civic leaders.

The intention is to convey the degree to which civic ritual acted as a vessel through which provincial mourning could be expressed following a royal death. It will also convey the manner in which grief was not always natural, but instead was prompted through municipal encouragement.

“He is No More, the Gentleman King”: The Masonic Mourning Ritual for King Leopold I of Belgium (1866)

Jeffrey Tyssens

If Belgian king Leopold’s connection to Freemasonry was distant at best –he had been accepted “at sight” (i.e. “par communication”) under the auspices of a Swiss lodge but hardly ever set foot in a Masonic temple– he was nevertheless hailed as the “Roi franc-maçon” by Belgian Freemasons. Leopold accepted to become the protector of the order when the young country had its national Masonic body, the Grand Orient, organized in 1832-1833. But quickly Leopold developed a bitter hostility towards the Belgian lodges’ liberal stance and kept that negative opinion until his death in December 1865. The royal protection had never been retreated though, even if it had become a mere formality, limited to a reference in the letterheads of the Grand Orient. All the same, in February 1866 this body organized a widely attended mourning lodge for the departed “brother” monarch. As we have shown in earlier research, hardly any Masonic ritual can so convincingly show how Freemasons were spinning their webs of significance. This was most certainly true for Leopold’s mourning lodge, which proved to be an epitome of the ritual “genre” as such, as well as a turning point.  If the operational dimension of the Masonic mourning ritual did remain relatively stable during the 19th century, its exegetic and positional dimensions definitely changed. With its classical three-stage-structure of the “rite de passage” (leading to the celebrating of Leopold’s eternal life in a “temple of immortality”) the mourning lodge explicitly echoed the then still largely proclaimed Masonic spiritualist doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The dead king was symbolically integrated into the pantheon of national heroes and was re-invented with qualities (i.e. Leopold as a supporter of liberal constitutionalism) that were just as mythical as the role attributed to those other great dead men that most theatrically received the country’s first king in their midst. Significantly, this part of the exegetic dimension was filled with references to an imagined 16th century (with its rising against Catholic Spain and the Inquisition) which was at the heart of the invented traditions of Belgian liberal nationalism in the 19th century. At the same time, the mourning lodge of 1866 marked the end of royal patronage for Belgian Freemasonry: the invariably Catholic successors of the Lutheran Leopold I were no longer sought after as protectors of a henceforth staunchly anticlerical Grand Orient. All at once, where the positional dimension of the mourning lodge is concerned, the very explicit expression of a spiritualist worldview during this particular 1866 ritual led to a first but ever so meaningful protest by more radical Freemasons who opposed the principle of freedom of conscience against any form of imposed spiritualist doctrine and anticipated the progressive secularization of Belgian Masonic rituals at large in the 1870s.

A brother’s loss is a sister’s gain: The loss of the heir and female succession in medieval Navarre

Elena Woodacre

The kingdom of Navarre had the largest number of female sovereigns in any single European realm in the Middle Ages. Five women ruled the kingdom in their own right between 1274 and 1512. The legal framework which permitted female accession and inheritance as well as local customs which looked favourably on women’s participation in local politics all enabled this large cohort of female rulers. However, none of these women would have come to the throne if there had been a male heir to supplant them. In fact, all five of the reigning queens of Navarre had brothers whose death made their own accession to the throne possible. Without these tragic events, Navarre’s unusual record with regard to gynocracy would not have been possible. Moreover, all of these queens had brothers who died in poignant and somewhat peculiar ways. The first queen of Navarre, Juana I, became the heiress after her brother Teobaldo died after falling from the window of a castle. Her granddaughter and namesake Juana II had a half-brother who was born posthumously after the death of their father Louis X of France (Luis I of Navarre). Both France and Navarre waited patiently for several months after the king’s death to see the outcome of the queen’s pregnancy. Her son, known as Jean I the Posthumous, sadly lived only a few days. Jean’s death signalled the end of the ‘Capetian miracle’ and the beginning of an extended succession crisis in France and Navarre as Juana struggled to assert her rights as the only surviving child of Louis X. In the fifteenth century, Blanca I came to the throne after an unexpected string of deaths. When she left Navarre in 1402 to marry the King of Sicily, she was fifth in line to the throne after her two younger brothers and two elder sisters. By 1414 Blanca’s position had completely changed; her husband’s death had left her a widow and the death of her two brothers and two elder sisters meant she was the primogenita or heiress of Navarre. Blanca’s youngest daughter Leonor was the next reigning queen of Navarre, but she only achieved this position by assisting her father in his designs to disinherit and ultimately eliminate Leonor’s elder brother and sister. Both of her elder siblings died in shadowy circumstances; her brother was reputedly poisoned by their stepmother while Leonor has been widely blamed for the death of her sister which occurred while her sibling was held captive by Leonor and her husband. Finally, the last reigning queen of Navarre, Catalina, acceded to the throne after the untimely death of her elder brother, Francisco Fébo. The young king Fébo also died mysteriously and popular Navarrese legends also attribute his unanticipated death to poison.

This paper will examine the tragic circumstances which enabled the rise of female rulers in Navarre. It will investigate the impact of royal loss on female succession and dynastic transition and discuss how the deaths of princes ultimately shaped Navarre’s direction and destiny.

‘May his Pattern be that of an Alfred’: George III and his absent father

Oliver Cox

Thomas Hollis, publisher and political philosopher, confided to his diary on the death of George II of his hopes that the king’s grandson may follow the pattern set by Alfred, king of the West Saxons. Twenty years earlier, ‘Rule, Britannia’ was performed for the first time at the court of George III’s father, Frederick, Prince of Wales, as the finale to Alfred: A Masque. Until the pioneering work of Robin Eagles, scholars were content with the anonymous epitaph provided for Frederick, ‘Here lies poor Fred, who was alive and is dead’. Frederick’s death, however, was widely commemorated and was the occasion of a great outpouring of public emotion. This paper considers Archibald Machay’s Pasquin, a New Allegorical Romance on the Times in which Frederick is presented as King Alfred. Machay appropriates the Anglo-Saxon past as a means of securing Frederick’s political legacy as embodied in his son, George III. I will explore the extent to which Frederick’s self-identification with Alfred was transferred to his son, and how George’s obsession with Alfred led to the unstable political climate of the 1760s.

Dashed Hopes and Mourned Prospects in France and Germany: Prince Ferdinand Philippe of Orléans (1842) and Emperor Frederick III (1888)

Heidi Mehrkens & Frank Lorenz Müller

This paper will compare the public reactions to and reflections generated by the untimely deaths of two royal heirs in two of the leading constitutional monarchies of 19th-century Europe. It will consider the ways in which these “lost” monarchical leaders were portrayed before and after their deaths and how the loss of these links in the dynastic chain was interpreted within the respective political cultures of the July Monarchy in France and Imperial Germany.

When in 1842 the Prince Royal Ferdinand Philippe of Orléans, aged only 32, was killed in an accident he left behind a mourning wife, two infant sons and France in a state of confusion. This unexpected loss proved to be a touchstone of dynastic cohesion, forcing King Louis-Philippe and his ministers to pass a law of regency – that had not existed until then – while the Orléans’ competitors waiting in the republican and legitimist wings saw their chance to regain power. In 1848 many contemporaries openly shared the opinion that the July Monarchy had been the “second victim” of the tragic incident six years earlier.

Unlike Prince Ferdinand, Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia and the German Empire was already a mature man and grandfather when the German public was confronted with news of the impending loss of this much-loved figure. Moreover, “Fritz” succumbed to a drawn-out illness and even reigned – albeit very briefly and as an invalid. Both the ruthlessly publicised spectacle of his illness and death and the special charisma that the anguish of the “Noble Sufferer” bestowed on the late emperor’s memory emerged as prominent features in the manner in which Germany’s political culture responded to these events.

Notwithstanding the obvious differences between 1842 and 1888, there are comparable themes in the public responses to the phenomenon of royal loss: the emphasis on the qualities of the lamented prince – at the same time extraordinary and characteristic of their dynastic pedigree; the re-affirmation of the importance of dynasty; the utilisation of the deceased’s reputation for justifying a particular political course, and the importance of the media used to address and involve a large political public. For all the modernity of these processes of communicating instances of royal loss, these two case studies nevertheless demonstrate the survival of some very old stories.

Heidi and Frank are both involved in the AHRC-funded project “Heirs to the Throne in the Constitutional Monarchies of 19th-century Europe” and would like to propose this joint paper to highlight some of the concerns of our research agenda. For further details, please see: http://heirstothethrone-project.net/

‘Unconscious of their doom:’ Monarchs and Republicans as Victims of ‘Infamous Crimes’

Alexander Noonan

In early 1892 the American minister to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Frederick Grant, was asked to intervene in a minor, yet revealing, diplomatic imbroglio. In retaliation for a full-page editorial cartoon published in the American newspaper, Puck, the Austrian Minister of the Interior used a law regulating the press to ban the paper’s distribution through the Austro-Hungarian mail service. Entitled, “Unconscious of their Doom,” the cartoon in question depicted the monarchies of Europe being destroyed by Liberty, the “Spirit of the Age.” Though Puck’s American editors pointed out that the image in question made no specific mention of the Habsburg monarchy, Grant expressed doubt that his intervention could affect any change given the authorities’ rigid pattern of censorship. As the decade unfolded, however, the “spectre of anarchism” emerged as a threat to monarchies and republics alike. Emperor Franz Josef, who survived an assassination attempt in 1853, lost his wife, Elizabeth, in 1898 after an Italian anarchist stabbed her while she was vacationing abroad. Two years later, following the assassination of King Umberto I of Italy, the Earl of Kimberly reminded members of the House of Lords that those who struck down Empress Elizabeth or, earlier, Tsar Alexander II were a more atrocious band of murderers than earlier assassins; they were “enemies of the human race.” As the American paper The Daily Picayune (New Orleans) opined in 1900, despite “the general betterment” of people globally and “the almost complete extinction of arbitrary power wielded by monarchs,” attacks on royals and other heads of state “seem to have increased, rather than diminished in recent times.”

This paper examines the spate of late-19th century assassinations by analysing the contemporary belief that the attacks were “different” and an assault on society itself. Such an approach challenges the traditional historical discourse on assassination, which holds that assassination attempts, while deeply troubling, are isolated in both time and space. Contemporaries, however, readily linked the attacks between monarchs – from Alexander II to Elizabeth, for example – and to republicans like President Carnot of France or McKinley of the United States. Further, the attacks had the potential to bedevil governmental efforts to address the threat because the crimes cut across borders: Elizabeth was an Austrian visiting Switzerland when she was killed by an Italian while Umberto was slain by an Italian emigrant who returned to Italy from the United States for the expressed purpose of killing the king. Analysing how and why contemporaries linked the attacks together as part of a larger, more ominous menace allows us to better understand subsequent attempts to deal with the anarchist threat.

The 1934 Wedding of the Duke of Kent to Princess Marina of Greece and the International Repercussions of the Assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia

Edward Owens

On Tuesday 9 October 1934, King Alexander I of Yugoslavia was shot dead by a Bulgarian political extremist during a state visit to Marseilles, France. The assassination was famously caught on film and images of the moment in which the king’s life was brutally extinguished were quickly and widely disseminated across the world. Never before had a monarch’s death been presented in this way, the immediacy of the moment of assassination stunning newsreel audiences and newspaper readers. Presented as the ‘shadow of Europe’ by the British popular press, the assassination emphasised the fragility of peace on the continent in the early 1930s. It was also a striking visual reminder that the concept of monarchy was increasingly contested following the Great War, a number of dynasties falling prey to political revolution because of the conflict. In a period of escalating extremism, it seemed the age of monarchy was waning.

Not so in Britain. On the same day the Yugoslavian king was murdered, Prince George, the youngest son of King George V of Great Britain, was made Duke of Kent, in anticipation of his marriage to Princess Marina of Greece. From the moment the couple’s engagement had been announced in late August 1934 the British media had responded ecstatically, presenting the romance as a focal point around which people throughout the country could gather. The news media’s rendering of the 1934 love story was designed to heighten the British public’s awareness of their national community. Moreover, in light of King Alexander’s assassination, the press constructed a British national identity through the love story of George and Marina that purposely contrasted with the political chaos that reigned in Europe. Visual juxtaposition in popular newspapers created the symbolic contrast of a freedom-loving British monarchy – exemplified in the romance of two young lovers – to rival the perils of European extremism.

In this respect, the assassination of a relatively unknown king in Europe acted to significantly enhance the public image and vitality of the British monarchy, whilst reinforcing the role it played as a focal point in and representation of the British national community.

Imagined communities of grief in interwar Belgium: responses to the accidental deaths of King Albert I and Queen Astrid (1934-1935)

Christoph De Spiegeleer

King Albert of the Belgians and Princess/Queen Astrid had both successfully built strong public profiles based on Albert’s leadership during the war and Astrid’s charity work and happy marriage to Albert’s son Prince Leopold.  Albert was killed during a climbing accident, while his daughter-in-law, the new Queen Astrid, was killed in a car crash 18 months later, leaving behind three young children. The amount of public sympathy/loyalty that was shown to the Royal family in those days was unprecedented in Belgian history. On the basis of press reports, hundreds of letters of mourning and other previously unexplored material preserved at the Royal Archives in Brussels, this paper will analyze public and private responses to these accidental royal deaths.

A central theme in this paper will be the role of the new mass media in the redrawing of boundaries between public and private life after these sudden deaths and the new public nature of the two royal funerals. The media played a central role in embedding the deaths and funerals of Astrid and Albert in the daily lives of ordinary people.  As was the case with the Christmas broadcasts of King George V, the live broadcasting of Albert’s funeral on the radio, in 1934, conveyed a new sense of participation, not only in Belgium but all over the world. The massive increase in the speed of communication facilitated the construction of a global bereaved community.  We witness a quick reaction on the part of both ordinary people and foreign political authorities in the week after the accident, with many mourning letters/telegrams/poems and diplomatic reports.

Mediatized deaths/mourning and  increased sharing of instantaneous information significantly affected the way in which people perceived and experienced these events, prompting a stronger sense of ‘imagined community’ and heightening a sense of national tragedy. The mourning letters show how these royal deaths transcended the many ways in which people were divided (class, region, gender, denomination). The mediated grief and mourning thus became, in a Durkheimian sense, a major form of nation building in an increasingly divided country with a radicalizing Flemish movement. However, with regard to these early  ‘media events’, the public has been increasingly conditioned to ‘learn’  their reaction from the media, which makes it difficult to disentangle ‘authentic’ and ‘mediated’ reactions to the event. Behind media construct images of national unity often lies a more complex picture of divergent opinions.

Albert’s funeral was also the culmination of an ongoing process of forging a national identity around the popular war myth of the ‘soldier King’. Both veterans of the Great War and prominent foreign guests, especially from war ally France, played a central role in this collective catharsis.  Astrid’s death, 18 months later, triggered a huge wave of compassion for the young royal orphans and the royal widower. The celebrations of military heroism and mother love/human compassion did not end with Albert’s  and Astrid’s funerals, but were pursued through the search for places of pilgrimage and  the erection of monuments.

Imperial Passion Bearers: Commemorating the Executed Romanovs in Russia and Great Britain

Jitka Štollová

When the Cheka – acting under Lenin’s orders – executed members of the Romanov dynasty in Ekaterinburg and Alapayevsk in July 1918, the killings were presented as an act of just revenge by the Russian people on a tyrant and his family. However, despite the fact that this piece of propaganda resonated among many supporters of the Soviet regime at that time, it did not eliminate the antithetical reactions which secretly emerged in Russian society in response to the royal executions. Although the Bolshevik government claimed the peasants as its main supporters, it was particularly this class, together with the former aristocracy, which showed the greatest tendency to cherish the pre-Revolutionary image of “batushka tsar” (“Tsar the Father”) and venerate the executed Romanovs. This phenomenon became officially recognised only after the collapse of the Soviet Union when, in 2000, following a long debate, the Russian Orthodox Church canonised Nicholas II and his family as “passion bearers” (“strastoterpci”, i.e. those who were not killed for their faith as martyrs, but who firmly held to their faith till their death).

Taking into account the politically and culturally determined shift in the perception of the execution of the Romanovs, this paper examines the process of transformation of the myth of “Nicholas the Bloody” (as he was sometimes nicknamed after the brutal suppression of a demonstration in 1905) into “Saint Nicholas the Passion Bearer”. Starting with an account of the secret veneration of the imperial family under the Bolshevik regime, I will proceed to examine this phenomenon in post-Soviet Russia, particularly in the period following the official canonization of the imperial family. Using original photo documentation obtained while conducting research in Siberia and St. Petersburg, I will aim to demonstrate that the idea of Romanov saints is not only reinforced by the popularity of orthodox icons portraying Nicholas II’s family, but it also influences a wide range of visual art created to commemorate their death, e.g. a cathedral, sculptures, and life-size photos erected at the places of their execution in Ekaterinburg, or a monastery built around the pit in which they were buried. Furthermore, the resonance of the Romanov cult outside Russia will be discussed using the example of Great Britain, where a statue of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (granddaughter of Queen Victoria, executed in Alapayevsk) was installed at Westminster Abbey and HRH the Prince of Wales commissioned a hymn, written by John Tavener, to commemorate the Grand Duchess and Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Taking into consideration such a versatile range of examples of commemorating the members of the former Russian dynasty, I will argue that the Romanov case proves that – under specific circumstances – the violent death of a monarch may significantly influence the perception of his personality and evoke personal sympathy with his fate which, in terms of the general public, seems to overshadow the evaluation of his historical importance. This explains why Nicholas II, regarded as a weak ruler by most of the historians, could become a popular Russian saint.

Royal Apotheoses from Queen Elizabeth I to the children of George III

Clare Gittings

This paper explores the forms taken by visual images of royal apotheoses from the early seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries, in a range of different media. It examines any differences in representation reflecting the age and sex of the sitters and also in the way that they died – whether it was a good death or bad – including, most dramatically, the execution of Charles I. Is the death itself represented or excluded from the apotheosis and how are the emotions of earthly grief and heavenly joy handled within the image?  Does this change over time, either for individual sitters or for the genre as a whole?

Royal apotheoses will be very briefly compared with images of non-royal heroic apotheoses such as that of Nelson, and with classical and Christian antecedents, including the Ascension by Benjamin West, who also created an important royal apotheosis. These comparisons raise issues about the pose adopted for the deceased royal sitter, their clothing, the sense of upward movement, and any attendant figures assisting their passage to heaven. Are these gods and other classical figures, Christian images of angels and saints or nationalistic personifications such as Britannia, or a mixture of several of these, and what is the significance of this choice of imagery?

This paper will have explored the background to the great outpouring of national grief on the death of George III’s granddaughter, Princess Charlotte, and the visual language used in the very many images produced of her apotheosis, which would form a separate subject in their own right.

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