front cover of Memoirs (1630-1680)
Memoirs (1630-1680)
Sophia of Hanover
Iter Press, 2013
Granddaughter of James I of England, Sophia (1630–1714) began life a penniless princess in exile. She ended it as electress dowager of Hanover, an emerging European power. Had she lived two months longer, she would have succeeded to the British crown before her son, George I. In keeping with Sophia’s reputation as the era’s “most entertaining woman,” her memoirs, which she wrote in French, paint a captivating and often humorous portrait of her life as one of Europe’s preeminent noblewomen and celebrities. They also recall, with insight and verve, her interactions with leading men and ladies (Charles II, Louis XIV, Queen Christina of Sweden) and long-forgotten bit players (cavaliers, concubines, clerics, and quacks). The memoirs, which recount the first fifty years of Sophia’s life, appear here in English for the first time in their entirety. Their publication in this series is particularly timely, as it coincides with the three hundredth anniversary of the Hanoverian succession (2014).

front cover of Perilous Performances
Perilous Performances
Gender and Regency in Early Modern France
Katherine Crawford
Harvard University Press, 2004

In a book addressing those interested in the transformation of monarchy into the modern state and in intersections of gender and political power, Katherine Crawford examines the roles of female regents in early modern France.

The reigns of child kings loosened the normative structure in which adult males headed the body politic, setting the stage for innovative claims to authority made on gendered terms. When assuming the regency, Catherine de Médicis presented herself as dutiful mother, devoted widow, and benign peacemaker, masking her political power. In subsequent regencies, Marie de Médicis and Anne of Austria developed strategies that naturalized a regendering of political structures. They succeeded so thoroughly that Philippe d’Orleans found that this rhetoric at first supported but ultimately undermined his authority. Regencies demonstrated that power did not necessarily work from the places, bodies, or genders in which it was presumed to reside.

While broadening the terms of monarchy, regencies involving complex negotiations among child kings, queen mothers, and royal uncles made clear that the state continued regardless of the king—a point not lost on the Revolutionaries or irrelevant to the fate of Marie-Antoinette.


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