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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines the main characteristics and connotations of the early modern court. A discussion of the historiography highlights major changes and influences, including Norbert Elias and anthropology. The chapter then integrates recent research into a presentation of court offices and staffs, numbers and costs, the role of women, the urban context of court life, ceremony and court culture, political power and favourites. The conclusions revise some widely held views. Rulers more often than not aimed to reduce their courts, viewing enlargement as a financial threat as well as an undermining of order. Most courts formed a combination of households rather than a single establishment, a situation reflecting the role of the dynasty around the individual ruler. Women played a marked role, particularly as mothers and dowagers. Finally the chapter shows that the court in the early modern age was in several respects different from preceding and later courts.

Keywords: Court, royal court, household, household staffs and offices, patronage, favourites, faction, ritual

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