Privacy at Court? A Reassessment of the Public/Private Divide within European Courts (1400-1800)

10-12 December 2020

The symposium will take place in a hybrid format of in-person and digital (via Zoom) participation.

Grand, extravagant, magnificent, scandalous, corrupt, political, personal, fractious; these are terms often used to describe the medieval and early modern courts of Europe. Moreover, this dynamic location within the social world was central to the legitimacy and authority of the monarch or princely power, acting thereby as a machinery that shaped European politics and culture. Architecture, art, fashion, patronage and cultural exchanges relied upon and were influenced by the visual spectacle of European courts. Researchers have convincingly and innovatively emphasised the public nature of courtly events, procedures, and ceremonies. Nevertheless, court life also involved certain zones of privacy. Indeed, what was recognized as private at European courts? How were such privacies obtained or constructed within the court? How did practices of privacy impact political deliberations at court? How was privacy put on public display?


These and similar questions urge us to reassesses the public nature of the early modern European court and to reconsider our present-day understandings of privacy. Indeed, the emergence of court studies as a scientific area of investigation relied heavily upon sociological modes of explanation, political history, and cultural studies of, e.g., performance and ritualization. Can issues of courtly privacy be fitted into our existing models? Or do we have to reconsider models and their representations of court life, when we take zones of privacy into account? Such a reassessment will fertilize the grounds for a much broader discussion of the past and the future of court studies.


The symposium provides researchers of court studies the opportunity to examine or reassess the role of privacy within European courts and court studies.

The symposium will also inaugurate and launch the new European branch for the Society for Court Studies. This launch will be celebrated with a virtual reception during the symposium proceedings.



Privacy at Court? Reconsidering the Public-Private Dichotomy

Professor Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger

Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute for Advanced Study


The Monarch Exposed. Privacy in Practice at the Early Modern Court

Dr Dries Raeymaekers

Radboud University



Provisional Symposium Programme

Thursday, 10 December 2020


Keynote: Privacy at Court? Reconsidering the Public-Private Dichotomy

Professor Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute for Advanced Study


Panel 1: Women, Gender, and Domesticity within the Private Sphere


Elena (Ellie) Woodacre, University of Winchester

Influence and Interference in the Queen's Private Sphere: The Case of Joan of Navarre


Barbara Arciszewska, University of Warsaw

Architecture, Gender and the Private Sphere: Women and Early Modern Court Residences around 1700


Britta Kägler, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelig universitet (NTNU) / Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Institutionalized Privacy? - The Need to Achieve and Defend Privacy in the Frauenzimmer


Panel 2: Notions of Privacy within Architecture, Sounds and Material Culture


Fabio Gigone, Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen

The gilded balustrade: Solar Imagery and its Architectural Implications at the Court of Louis XIV


Karin Schrader, Independent Scholar

Intimate Tokens and Public Emblems - Portrait Miniatures in Eighteenth-Century European Court Culture


Christine Jeanneret, Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen

Soundscapes of Rosenborg Castle: Hearing Privacy at Court


Panel 3: Access, Protocols and Rituals of Privacy I


Jonathan Spangler, Manchester Metropolitan University/Society for Court Studies

Not Always on Display? The Hybrid Public/Private Life of the Court of Lorraine at the Palace of Lunéville, 1698-1736


Oskar Jacek Rojewski, Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen

Spreading of Court Culture from the Burgundian Court to the Kingdom of Castile: Sovereign's Privacy and its Relationship with Court Artists


Mirella Marini, Independent Scholar

From the Privacy of Death to the Public Ritual of Mourning: the Testamentary Dispositions of Anne of Croy (1564-1635), duchess of Aarschot and the Reversal of the Burgundian Court Ritual


Panel 4: Historiography, Narratives, and Depictions of Privacy


Cathleen Sarti, University of Oxford

Court, Historiography, Historical Fiction, and Privacy?


Heta Aali, University of Turku,

Narrating the Private Sphere in France: Reinterpreting the Early Modern Royal Family through Eighteenth-Century Notions of Privacy


Vasileios Syros, University of Jyväskylä

Venice and the Ottoman Court: Revisiting the Public/Private Divide in 16th-Century Europe


Friday, 11 December 2020


Keynote: The Monarch Exposed. Privacy in Practice at the Early Modern Court

Dr Dries Raeymaekers, Radboud University


Panel 5: Privacy and Power


Lars Cyril Nørgaard and Bastian Felter Vaucanson, Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen

The Portrait of Louis XIV’s Privacy

Dustin M. Neighbors, Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen

Maximilian II's Visit to the Court of Elector August of Saxony: Private Politics or Politics of Privacy? 


Panel 6: Privacy, Courtly Practices and Movements


My Hellsing and Kristine Dyrmann, The Danish Research Centre for Manorial Studies / Stockholm University and Aarhus University

Privacy and Political Sociability in the Suburbs of Stockholm and Copenhagen in the Late Eighteenth Century


Ineke Huysman, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands

Silent Power: Privacy Practices of the Dutch and Frisian Stadholder's Wives (1605-1725)


Paige Emerick, University of Leicester

Seeking Privacy within the Royal Visits of George III, c. 1760-1805


Panel 7: Notions of Privacy within Politics, Diplomacy, and Patronage


Michael Brauer, University of Salzburg

Royal Presence and the Framing of Privacy Observations on Charles V "the Wise" of France (1364-1380)


Bram van Leuveren, University of St. Andrews

Negotiating the Public and the Private: Dispatches of European Diplomats at the Late Valois and Early Bourbon Court


Anna Penkała-Jastrzębska, Pedagogical University of Kraków

Noble Matrimonial Policy at the Royal Court in Dresden during the Reign of King August the Strong (1697-1733): Public Affairs, Individual Interests


Søren Frank Jensen, Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen

Private Devotion in Public? Mapping The Book of Psalms at the Electoral Court of Saxony 1553-86



Saturday, 12 December 2020

Panel 8: Privacy at the Courts of the Last Kings of the Jagiellonian Dynasty


Marta Wojtkowska-Maksymik, Warsaw University

Where I’m not... About the Lack of Privacy at Court in 16th -Century Anticourt Literature


Anne Gallewicz, Warsaw University

Castiglione and Górnicki - Literary Perspectives of Otium at Court


Jolanta Dygul, Warsaw University

Court Ceremonies and Performative Arts at the Courts of the Last Jagiellonians


Anna Horeczy, Polish Academy of Sciences

Intellectuals at the Court of the Last Jagiellonian Kings - Between Public and Private Spheres


Panel 9: Access, Protocols and Rituals of Privacy II


Fabian Persson, University of Oxford

Public Displays of Affection: Creating Spheres of Royal Intimacy in Public


Jose Eloy Hortal Muñoz,

Regulating Access to the Rulers: the Codification of the Royal Chamber of the Spanish Monarchy at the Seventeenth Century


Sara Ayres, Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen

 The Madness of Christian VII: The Uses of Privacy at the Danish Court, 1766-1772


Panel 10: Court Personnel, Physicians and Private Functions


Agnieszka Pawłowska-Kubik, Medical University of Gdańsk

Be as close to the ruler as possible: The Royal Physician at Court in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth


Michaël Green, Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen

Privacy Aspects of the Household Instructions by Henry VIII Concerning the Infant Prince Edward


Bethany Bourn Williams, University of Bristol

Performing and Representing Domesticity at the Protectoral Court of Oliver Cromwell



Open Attendance:

The symposium will be open to non-presenters. However, traveling/accommodation and sustenance at the symposium will be at the attendee’s expense.

SCS Reception:

The reception to mark the launch of the European branch of the Society for Court Studies is open and free for attendees and SCS members. However, due to limited capacity, individuals will have to reserve a spot separately from the registration. Spots are based on first come, first served. Please reserve your spot by clicking on the reservation link below.






Registration is free. Please fill out all fields within the registration form. Should you have any questions, please contact the organisers by email at


Organizers: Dustin Michael Neighbors, Postdoctoral Researcher, and Lars Cyril Nørgaard, Assist. Professor, at the Centre for Privacy Studies