Dynasties: Family Politics in Medieval Europe

The James Lydon Lectures in Medieval History and Culture 2017
FREE Public Lecture: 
Dynasties: Family Politics in Medieval Europe
By: Professor Robert Bartlett
Monday 24 April 2017 at 7 pm
Thomas Davis Lecture Theatre (Room 2043)
Trinity College Dublin

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About the 2017 Lydon Lectures

Monarchies are now rare in the world, numbering around twenty in a system of almost 200 independent states, but for hundreds of years monarchy was the way that politics worked in most countries. And monarchy meant power was in the hands of a family – a dynasty – and hence politics was family politics. It was not elections or referenda that shaped political life, but the births, marriages and deaths of the ruling family. This added further unpredictability to the unpredictable business of ruling.

These lectures discuss this past reality systematically as it is found in medieval Europe. Starting with a general lecture examining the issue from the point of view of the life cycle of marriage, birth and death, the later talks focus on specific aspects of the dynastic system: the possibility of female rule; the unpredictable intrusion of pretenders, who claimed to be (perhaps falsely) long-lost members of ruling dynasties; and the way that names, the numbering of rulers and the visual display of heraldry expressed a sense of belonging to a dynasty.

About the Lydon Lecturer 2017

Robert Bartlett is Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and a Fellow of the British Academy. His books include The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950-1350, which won the Wolfson Literary Prize for History. He has lectured widely, from New Zealand to Chile, from Japan to California, and has written and presented three television series for the BBC, “Inside the Medieval Mind” (2008), “The Normans” (2010), and “The Plantagenets” (2014).