1824 Joint conference with the Society for Court Studies: Courts and Capitals V 1815-1914

Saturday 10 November 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Price for single attendee: £0.00

The century before the Great War, far from being a period of decline for monarchies, witnessed a resurgence of court life around the world. New monarchies appeared while long-established dynasties sought to consolidate their power. Monarchies reshaped their capital cities: new, larger palaces were constructed; royal avenues, squares and parks were created; public ceremonies reached levels of elaboration and participation previously unknown. This fifth Society for Court Studies/Victorian Society conference seeks to shed fresh light on the complex relationship between royal courts and capital cities in the long 19th century.

From Riches to Rags: the decline and fall of royal Stuttgart
George Eckert
After 1806, when Napoleon I made Wurttemberg into a kingdom, King Friedrich I made desperate efforts to fill his capital with monarchical splendour. His successors, however, abhorred it. For 90 years until the abdication of King Wilhelm II in 1918, they imposed a bourgeois appearance, both on themselves and on their capital. For example, Nikolaus Friedrich von Thouret, who once had been asked to transform royal castles, had to design a hospital in 1827 - while a former royal castle was converted into an agricultural school. Railways surrounded and even undermined other royal castles in Stuttgart, which had become a turbulent industrial city by the end of the 19th century. In 1907 it hosted the 7th Congress of the Second International.

Rio Grande: the making of an imperial capital for Brazil, 1822-1889
David Gelber
The flight of the Portuguese court to Brazil in 1807 transformed Rio de Janeiro from colonial town to capital of a transatlantic empire. But it was not until Dom Pedro, eldest son of King Joao VI, led Brazil to independence in 1822 that Rio’s status as an imperial capital was secured. From 1822 until the fall of the monarchy in 1889, Rio served as the crucible of political, cultural and social life in the new nation, becoming a microcosm of this vast empire and an emblem of Brazil in the outside world. The monarchy rose with Rio, but fell with it too. The emergence of Sao Paulo as an alternative centre of economic power in the late 19th century spelled the end for the House of Braganza in Brazil.

The Creation of an Imperial Summer Capital: Napoleon III, the Basques and Biarritz

Talitha Ilacqua

A few years ago, Roderick Barman argued that the expression ‘summer capital’ was improperly used, because a capital is the home of politics and bureaucracy and royal summer residences were places where politics were left behind as much as possible. In this paper, I will argue that Napoleon III’s summer residence of Biarritz was indeed a place where politics happened – where the sovereign and his people were brought together through local visits, acts of charity and philanthropy. I will consider the role of Biarritz as an imperial town, and how the emperor’s presence there impacted both the court and the everyday life of the local population. I will examine the importance of Napoleon III for the Basque Country. I will conclude with a comparison of Biarritz with other ‘summer capitals’, such as Balmoral and Sandringham in Britain, Babelsberg in Prussia, Ischl for the Habsburgs and Lavadia for the Romanovs.

Imperial Apogee: Constantinople and Abdulhamid II, 1876-1909
Philip Mansel
In the last century of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople became an international metropolis of one million people and four new palaces were built there: Dolmabahee, Beylerbey, Ciragan and Yildiz. Abdulhamid II (1876-1909) dismissed the Ottoman parliament in 1877 and concentrated power in Yildiz, on a hill above the Bosphorus. He maintained an enormous guard and household, and an Italian opera company, court painter and architect, and made his attendance at the mosque outside his palace into a grandiose, weekly military ceremony. In 1909, however, partly because of this concentration of power in Yildiz, he was overthrown by the ‘Young Turk’ revolution, and sent to live under house arrest in Salonica. The Ottoman Empire briefly became a parliamentary monarchy.

Ancient capitals for a new monarchy. The ‘itineranza’ of the Italian Court, 1861-1938: Turin, Florence, Rome, Naples, Venice
Andrea Merlotti
Following Italian unification (1861), Turin became capital of the Kingdom of Italy. The seat of the King was then moved to Florence (1865) and, finally, to Rome (1871). The House of Savoy thus had all the royal residences that had previously been used by the Pope, the Emperor - as King of Lombardy - Venetia, the King of the Two Sicilies, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Duke of Parma and the Duke of Modena, with the exception of the Palazzi Vaticani. As a result, the King of Italy had an extensive network of palaces and residences in which to hold court. The King used it to create an itineranza (Itinerary) between the most important cities. Naples, in particular, became a sort of ‘second capital’. However, the sovereigns and the court also frequently stayed for prolonged periods in Turin, Milan, Venice, Florence, Monza and Palermo. This allowed the monarchy to maintain a direct dialogue with the nobility and middle classes of the different cities. A strategy that also continued after the advent of the Fascism in 1922-5: the last Italian royal palace was built in Bolzano in 1934.

The British monarchy and London 1839-1914
Jane Ridley
In 1868 a wag posted a bill outside Buckingham Palace: ‘These commanding premises to be let or sold in consequence of the occupant’s declining business’. Queen Victoria withdrew from London after the death of Albert and for forty years the monarchy was based at Windsor. This paper considers the changes to the monarchy brought about by Victoria’s retirement from the capital and it shows how Edward VII’s restoration of a metropolitan Court enabled the creation of a new style of monarchy: fashionable, visible, ceremonial and constitutional.

Prince Albert’s London
A N Wilson
The Prince Consort’s chief legacy to London is the so-called ‘Albertopolis’ of museums and colleges in Kensington which can be seen to this day and his close involvement with the Great Exhibition of 1851. He was also keenly and closely concerned with the plight, and rehousing, of London’s poor.

10am to 5.30pm at the Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1. Doors open at 9.30am. The venue is conveniently placed for Holborn and Russell Square tube stations and numerous bus services. £60 including buffet lunch and tea/coffee.


Event code: 1824

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