This kingdom which you entirely dispose of as your own. Symbolic, performative and theatrical practices in Franco-Habsburg diplomacy from the Ladies’ Peace at Cambrai in 1529 to Charles V’s journey through France in 1539-1540

Start - End 
2020 - 2024 (ongoing)



Recent years have seen renewed interest in the symbolic, cultural, and theatrical aspects of early modern diplomacy. However, the changed focus of New Diplomatic History has mostly neglected the lavish contacts between France and the Habsburg empire in the 1530s. This project deals with why the French and the Habsburgs engaged in ever more impressive displays and entertainments during these diplomatic encounters with each other and how these diplomatic practices were instrumentalised in furtherance of the concrete political objectives of the respective sovereigns in the sociopolitical context of the 1530s. The main objectives are to show how Francis I and Charles V and their envoys or regents - Margaret of Austria and Mary of Hungary - constructed and acted out meaningful self-images during such diplomatic contacts and entertainments and how religious factors influenced those self-images and spectacles. This research will conduct an in-depth, multilayered analysis and comparison of French and Habsburg pamphlets, Habsburg, French, papal, and English diplomatic letters, and Habsburg accounts to investigate the multisensory nature of these encounters. It will be argued that non-verbal communication, triumphal arches, theatre plays, performed music, gift exchange, etc. all contributed to the soft power sovereigns wanted to display. Furthermore, this research will enhance our knowledge of the role of the Low Countries in diplomatic relations with France.



Phd Student(s)