Thinking about Queens, Politics and Diplomacy…

The last few months have been rather a whirlwind with conferences, publishing projects at various stages and the start of the new academic year. However, it’s been a good whirlwind, giving me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with many wonderful colleagues and learn more about their research.

At the end of the summer, I attended two excellent conferences which gave me plenty of food for thought and the chance to hear some wonderful papers. The first of these was Gender and Political Culture 1400-1700, hosted by the University of Plymouth in conjunction with Umea in Sweden. The conference was literally action packed, with three days of papers, two conference dinners (one of which took place in front of a massive tank at the aquarium down by the harbour) and two keynote speakers. There were several excellent papers on queenship and it gave me an opportunity to present my developing research on the relationship between four queenly cousins; Catalina of Navarre, Anne de Bretagne, Germana de Foix and Anne de Foix-Candale. The selection of papers was well rounded and diverse and included a workshop for those interested in contributing to the new WEMLO (Women’s Early Modern Letters Online) project. For me a particular highlight was Merry Wiesner-Hanks’ keynote, where she urged us all to think of our own areas of study in global terms, giving me a different perspective on my own area of research. In reaction to this, I’ve been trying to learn more about queenship in a global sense, buying books on Mongol queens, palace women in global history and female rule in the Islamic world.

Another excellent conference was Splendid Encounters in Warsaw. This is a joint initiative by the Historical Institute in Warsaw and Bath Spa University and the follow up event will be held in Bath in 2014. This conference focuses on Early Modern diplomacy which is not my particular area of speciality, though I am keenly interested in matrimonial diplomacy. However, I learned a terrific amount from listening to the strong selection of papers on gift-giving, developments in diplomatic practices, the use of ciphers and many more. Sara Wolfson and I discussed how not enough work has been done on queenly diplomacy and the result is that she is now developing a conference on this theme to be held at CCCU next year.

I am delighted to say that my monograph on the Queens Regnant of Navarre has been published by Palgrave Macmillan in September as a part of the Queenship and Power series (http://us.macmillan.com/thequeensregnantofnavarre/ElenaWoodacre ). The editorial team there, including Charles Beem, Carole Levin and Chris Chappell have all been wonderfully supportive and it is very exciting to see the book in print at last. The final touches have just been made to a second volume for Palgrave, Queenship in the Mediterranean, which will emerge either in December 2013 or January 2014 (http://us.macmillan.com/queenshipinthemediterranean/ElenaWoodacre ). This is a collection of papers which were drawn from the first Kings & Queens conference.  I have been fortunate as the editor to be working with an incredible group of scholars, whose research of queenship is fascinating, drawing attention to key themes in queenship studies and highlighting the lives of many important women who have received insufficient attention in past publications. I am very excited about this collection and I am grateful for the opportunity to work on two projects this year with the Queenship and Power team.

At the moment, I have been thoroughly enjoying a new module that I am running on the Renaissance Court-luckily the students seem to be enjoying it too, long may it continue! Plans are developing for the new Royal Studies Journal which we hope to launch in 2014 and I’m working on several edited collections as an editor and contributor which is exciting. In particular, my Winchester colleague Carey Fleiner and I are working on a proposal for a two-volume collection on Motherhood, Ambition and Authority with an international group of scholars-we’ve received an incredibly strong selection of proposals and anticipate an excellent final product, hopefully in late 2014/early 2015.

Last but not least-the call for papers for Kings & Queens 3 is out-deadline December 31, 2013 (conference to be held at Winchester July 11-12, 2014). For more information see: http://www.royalstudiesnetwork.org/CFPK&Q3.pdf

-Elena (Ellie) Woodacre

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