« Transnational » nobilities in Europe (13th-20th centuries)

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

« Transnational » nobilities in Europe (13th-20th centuries)

Deadline 15 December 2021.

The history of noble elites has long been confined to the territorial limits of the territorial states, except when dealing with very specific circumstances, such as new dynasties acceding to thrones leb vacant, the arrival of foreign princesses with their retinues, or periods of conflicts, resul(ng in the redrawing of borders and consequently, transforming former loyalties and stimulating mobility. This approach failed to recognize the transnational character of nobilities, their multiple local alachments, and, furthermore, the very idea of an aristocratic “international”. The influence of comparative history has been crucial in encouraging scholars to cast a fresh look at the mobility of noble elites by looking beyond national borders and studying the subject on multiple levels. Individual and family relations have been reconsidered from the perspective of “dynastic solidarity”. Reexaminations of the modern state, understood less as an agent of centralization than coordination, have also produced new readings of its relationship with noble elites. It is no coincidence, then, that these new approaches should have developed in spaces in which the State had remained weak and loyalties looser: the Spanish, then Austrian Netherlands, the Italian peninsula or the Austrian monarchy. These studies have shed light on the capacity of certain families to establish relations, beyond national borders, with other sovereigns or nobility groups, although their differences, expressed in multiple ways depending on the circumstances, might have proved at times unbridgeable. The concept of “substance” developed by R. Descimon to understand the family, viewed as a legal entity, endowed with social, political, cultural, economic and symbolic capital, points to the great variety of levers that could be used by noble lineages. The contributions of the social sciences, especially of historical anthropology, have opened up new approaches to the study of noble lineages, from the perspective of alliance, transmission of inheritance or the economics of kinship, in order to assess the scope for action of these families, given that the rules of access and preservation of their noble status were oben very strict, differed depending on place, and that any recognition they were granted was by no means permanent.

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