Dynasty and Dynasticism 1400-1700

book and glasses

Professor János M. Bak (Central European University)

Professor Craig Clunas (Oxford)

Professor Jeroen Duindam (Leiden)

Professor Paula Sutter Fichtner (CUNY /Brooklyn College)

Professor John Morrill (Cambridge)


Abstract submissions are invited for a major international conference on Dynasty and Dynasticism, 1400-1700, in Europe and beyond.

Boyd Tonkin has written that credence in the power of dynastic blood is the ‘residue of a magical world view’, yet in this period dynasty co-existed with new kinds of national and imperial state. Cliff Davies has questioned whether a dynasty such as the Tudors existed at all in the minds of contemporaries, suggesting they might have been ‘invented’ retrospectively.

This conference aims to ask afresh what royal dynasty was in the late medieval and early modern   periods: what beliefs underpinned it, whence its power and mystique derived, and who or what ruling dynasties believed themselves to be. In recent decades, the ‘new political history’ has reanimated the study of monarchy, courts, parliaments and royal image-making, using a range of interdisciplinary techniques, in the  process enriching our grasp of political culture in the late medieval and early   modern periods. This conference now seeks to put dynasty under the spotlight, as a category of    analysis in its own right, and as a major organising political principle in the pre-modern world.

The questions which the conference wishes to address include:

How was the identity of a dynasty constructed and expressed?

Did a heightened dynastic consciousness emerge in Europe or elsewhere in the 15th,16th and 17th centuries?

How should we understand the relationship between dynasty and monarchy (hereditary, elective or imperial)?

What role did dynasties play in discourses about national identity and foreignness?

What light do gender studies, anthropology, history of the body or history of emotions shed on the nature and functioning of dynasty?

How did mono-territorial dynasties differ in strategy and self-understanding from international dynasties which ruled multiple lands?

How different were royal dynasties from other forms of elite family network: e.g. aristocratic, banking or merchant houses?

How have royal dynasties been constructed in subsequent cultural memory and scholarship?


The Jagiellonians Project

The conference is being organised by the Oxford-based, ERC-funded project Jagiellonians: Dynasty, Memory and Identity in Central Europe(www.jagiellonians.com), led by Dr. Natalia Nowakowska. The project takes as its focus the supra-national Jagiellonian dynasty, who ruled multiple European polities in the period 1386 to 1572 - the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the kingdoms of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia – and married extensively into the ruling houses of the Holy Roman Empire and Scandinavia. Well known in the individual national historiographies of  northern and Central Europe, the Jagiellonians have rarely been studied as an international political phenomenon, and they remain little known outside the regions which they once ruled.

The project seeks to explore Jagiellonian dynasty and dynasticism within a much broader context: located in Central Europe, the Jagiellonians looked westwards, but also south and east towards the Orthodox world, the Tartars and the Ottomans.  We welcome proposals for papers addressing these and related questions, from scholars working on the Jagiellonians and other ruling dynasties of Latin Christendom, Eastern Christendom, the Americas and Asia in these centuries.


Submission of Abstracts

Abstracts for proposed papers (max. 500 words) should be sent to dynasty@history.ox.ac.uk by 1st August 2015.

Authors will be notified regarding acceptance of their contribution by 1st October 2015 at the latest,  after all submissions have been reviewed.

Applicants are expected to arrange for their own funding for conference participation. However, the project is able to subsidise a certain number of speakers who would not otherwise be able to attend.  Please indicate when submitting the abstract if you would like to be considered for a subsidized place.


Jagiellonians: Dynasty, Memory and Identity in Central Europe