PROFESSOR ROBERT BARTLETT
Dynasties: Family Politics in Medieval Europe
(The James Lydon Lectures in Medieval History and Culture, Trinity College Dublin)
About the series:
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 mediaeval 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 speaker:
Robert Bartlett is Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and a Fellow of the British Academy. He received his university education at Cambridge, Oxford and Princeton, taught earlier at the universities of Edinburgh and Chicago and has held fellowships in America, Germany and Israel. His books include The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950-1350, which won the Wolfson Literary Prize for History and has been translated into German, Estonian, Polish, Japanese, Spanish, Russian and Hebrew; England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225; The Medieval World Complete, an illustrated introduction to the Middle Ages; and, most recently, Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?: Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation (Princeton University Press, 2013). 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), which took him to Sicily, Istanbul and Jerusalem, and “The Plantagenets” (2014).
Distinguished guest participants:
Dr Stuart Airlie, University of Glasgow
Professor Sverre Bagge, University of Bergen
Dr Ana Rodríguez, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Spanish National Research Council
Dr Katharine Simms, FTCD (Emerita)
Professor Nicholas Vincent, University of East Anglia