‘That all the world may wonder!’ Exeter Conference on the Palatine Wedding

‘That all the world may wonder!’
The Palatine Wedding of 1613, its Celebration and Significance

An International Interdisciplinary Conference  to be held at the University of Exeter, UK, and with the kind permission of the National Trust, at Montacute House, Somerset

7-10 September 2008

Conference organizers: Mara Wade (Illinois) and Sara Smart (Exeter).

Speakers include: Nadine Akkerman (Leiden), Anne Daye (London), Doris Gerstl (Nürnberg), Christof Ginzel (Bonn), Hanns Hubach (Zürich), Marika Keblusek (Leiden), James Knowles (University College, Cork), Ann Kronbergs (Brussels), Margret Lemberg (Marburg), Jerzy Limon (Gdansk), Iain McClure (London), Margaret McGowan (Sussex), Maureen Meikle (Sunderland), Wolfgang Metzger (Weimar), Jaroslav Miller (Palacký), Marco Neumaier (Heidelberg), Matthew O’Brien (Rutgers), Ann Marie Ross (California), Magnus Rüde (Berlin), Arne Spohr (Köln), Klaus Winkler (Eberbach)

The wedding in 1613 of Elizabeth Stuart, the only daughter of James VI/I, to Friedrich V, Elector of the Palatinate, was an event of major political, religious and cultural significance. Celebrated with lavish and sophisticated festivities in London and Heidelberg, the marriage took place against a backdrop of mounting confessional tension in Europe. It was understood by the radical Protestant states of the Empire, led by the Calvinist Palatinate, to be a signal of James’s readiness to support them in their struggle with the Catholic imperialists. However, when this tension finally came to a head in 1618 with the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War and Friedrich’s acceptance of the crown of Bohemia, James was prepared neither to engage militarily for the Protestant cause nor to endorse Friedrich’s position as king. Yet in spite of the disappointment of Protestant political hopes, the marriage had substantial consequences, not least in its cultural impact on the Heidelberg court and beyond.

This international conference is bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines – Art History, Dance, English, French, German, History and Music – to explore the marriage from different perspectives. In broad terms, the areas and themes covered in the papers include:

– the phenomenon of pan-Protestantism, its mythology and iconography, and their expression in court festivities and occasional writing;
– the interconnection between confessional and dynastic politics and the arts, including theatre, music, dance and poetry, painting, architecture and garden design;
– cultural agency and transfer in the relationship between Britain, France, the Netherlands and the Empire in the early modern period;
– Protestant and Catholic propaganda as reflected in the stylization of the Palatine couple both as the triumphant leaders of Protestantism and as the fugitive Winter King and Queen.

The conference programme will be organized in three sections:

1. The political, diplomatic and confessional context of and response to the marriage;
2. The diverse wedding festivities held in London and Heidelberg, as well as those staged on Elizabeth’s journey through the Netherlands to the Palatinate;
3. The cultural and political impact of the match on the Protestant courts of the Empire, particularly Heidelberg and its traditions of architecture and garden architecture, theatre and dance.

We hope that the conference will lead to new insights into the interrelationship between artistic expression and political ambition in the early modern period and that it will increase our understanding of Protestant culture, its ideals and self-definition in this key period in confessional history. We hope, too, that the dynastic and cultural focus will enhance our knowledge of relations between the Jacobean court and the Protestant Empire.

For enquiries relating to registration and hospitality, please contact Amanda Edmondson +44(0)1392 264261.

Visit the conference site for registration details and the full programme.

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