Princely Funerals in Europe 1400-1700. Commemoration, Diplomacy, and Political Propaganda, Monique Chatenet, Murielle Gaude-Ferragu, et Gérard Sabatier(Dir.), Brepols, 2021


Funerals were among the most extravagant princely ceremonies in Europe. Historians, anthropologists, and political scientists have long been interested in this subject, as can be seen from Ralph Giesey’s celebrated work Le Roi est mort. Art historians have been attracted to the surviving decorations of tombs and funerary chapels. Yet historians of spectacle and of its ephemera have, hitherto, somewhat neglected a topic which is — nonetheless — at the heart of their concerns: with their elaborate settings, their costumes and decors, princely funerals challenge theatre and opera.

It is within this context that experts from many disciplines attempt to trace the evolution of funeral ceremonies, which were much less static than is generally believed; to expose the gifts of the masters of these solemn occasions (and, indeed, of their predecessors, the heralds) who constantly devised subtle ways of capturing the attention of spectators and moving their emotions. These essays have tried to cover not only a wide time spectrum but also to reveal the variety and range of such ceremonies devised in diverse European Courts as well as unravelling the innovations which underlay fashions which had multiple international repercussions.

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