Kingship in the Early Modern World
Mia Rodriguez-Salgado and Joan-Pau Rubies

Seminar Introduction

ElizabethIEurope in the sixteenth century was a region of religious schism, warring nations, dynastic alliances and betrayals in kingdoms, empires and republics. This was the century of the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation and the colonisation of the Americas and the East. It saw the anonymous publication of Machiavelli's classic tract The Prince, John Knox's virulent text, First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, and Thomas More's Utopia. Intellectuals and humanists were clearly thinking about states and kingdoms, and the people who governed them.

For the second half of this century, Elizabeth I reigned over England and Philip II took over his father's dominions, which stretched intermittently from Spain to the Netherlands to North Africa to the Americas. Both of these monarchs are widely considered to have ruled over a golden age in their respective territories, and are represented as successful and charismatic figures. They appear to have been radically different figures and they were frequently embroiled in conflicts with each other, yet they shared very similar concepts of political legitimacy and kingship as protector of faith and nation. Both monarchs left a great number of portraits and images, which project very particular and forceful ideas of authority and power.

Yet to what extent was this an exclusively European conception of kingship? While Europe was mired in political and religious turmoil, travellers, missionaries and traders were travelling to the East bringing back tales of vast kingdoms and empires ruled over by sacred monarchs; of emperors who existed in heavenly kingdoms. How different were these Oriental states and kings to their European counterparts, and how influential were they on Europeans thinking about states, nations and rulers?

In this seminar Mia Rodriguez-Salgado, professor of international history, and Joan-Pau Rubies, lecturer in international history, both at the London School of Economics and Political Science, introduce the kingdoms, rule and ideologies of Elizabeth I of England and Philip II of Spain, and the kingdom of Vijayanagara in southern India.

  • Session 1 England Under Elizabeth: The Realm in her Petticoat
  • Session 2 The Image of Elizabeth: Identity and Legitimacy
  • Session 3 Phillip II: The Agonies of Kingship
  • Session 4 When West met East: Oriental Kingship
  • Session 5 Vijayanagara: A Hindu Kingdom of Wonders
Learning Objectives:
  • Describe the political and religious balance of power in Europe during the sixteenth century.
  • Explain the difficulties Elizabeth I faced as monarch of England.
  • Describe the factors that dictated Philip II's religious and foreign policies.
  • Explain the different approaches to the artistic presentation of power and authority taken by Elizabeth I and Philip II.
  • Identify and describe the importance of the idea of oriental despotism to European thought.
  • Compare and contrast the ideology and practice of the kingdom of Vijayanagara to European models of kingship.
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