Publication Spotlight: Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe

coverBlog written by Professor Frank Lorenz Müller

In 1877 Archduke Rudolf, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, reached his majority. To mark this happy day, Field Marshall Archduke Albrecht, the stern Éminence grise of the Habsburg family, sent the young man a set of “aphorisms”, which contained a whole list of strict injunctions and dire warnings. Above all, Rudolf should make sure to eschew the “softening” (Verweichlichung) Albrecht was observing at other courts. For that way lay dishonour and loss of prestige. For the old field marshal, the princely profession was all about the splendour of majesty, about sticking rigidly to court and dynastic rules and about distance from the banal normality of human life.

For Albrecht, our new volume Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe would probably have been as unedifying a choice of bedtime reading as his austere aphorisms were for the wayward Rudolf. For the historians contributing first to our conference in 2015 and then to the volume which grew out of it, however, the phenomenon of royal power “going soft” – or at least adding a “soft” string to the bow of monarchical power – in the nineteenth century is not a cause for despair.

Rather than seeing the increasing attempts made by Europe’s dynasties to win over politically relevant audiences, to attract, cajole and persuade instead of forcing or coercing them, was a central component of monarchical survival. That these old dynastic dogs learned a whole bag of new tricks as they journeyed from commanding hard power to exercising influence is a sign of their resourcefulness and astuteness and not, as Archduke Albrecht would have argued, a symptom of a flaccid loss or moral fibre.

Organising our case studies round the famous concept of “soft power” – as coined by the American political scientist Joseph S. Nye – we invited historians specialising in many different European monarchies to explore how their dynasties sought to acquire this new skills set, to consider the different means they used and to assess the success of these efforts. Both our conference and now the volume have ranged from Spain to Norway, from Greece to the UK by way of Austria, the Netherlands, Prussia and Sweden. Our authors have analysed sports and public diplomacy, good looks and sartorial style, news management and the political market – while not neglecting love and marriage, dynastic virtues and the power of the visual in imperial settings.

HeirstothethroneMarking, as it did, the high-point of the AHRC-funded project Heirs to the Throne, the volume showcases the work of three St Andrews PhD students: Maria-Christina Marchi, Richard Meyer-Forsting and Miriam Schneider. It also adds to the list of volumes already published within the “Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy”, a series founded alongside the project and co-edited by Heidi Mehrkens and Frank Lorenz Müller in co-operation with Axel Körner (UCL) and Heather Jones (LSE), who both contributed to last year’s conference volume “Sons and Heirs”.

As the project is drawing to its official end, we look forward to more published research and to continuing our co-operation with Palgrave Macmillan. Meanwhile, we invite everyone to get hold of a copy of “Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power” – which, by the way, makes a terrific Christmas present – and to find out for themselves why Archduke Albrecht was wrong and “soft power” was not a bad thing for 19th-century heirs.

Postdoc Spotlight: Sarah Greer


Sarah Greer joined the School of History at St Andrews in September 2013 as a Marie Skłowdowska-Curie Research Fellow while she completed her PhD on ninth- and tenth-century Saxon female monasteries under the supervision of Professor Simon MacLean. This was not what she expected when she started her tertiary education. After graduating from a high-school history curriculum which focused almost exclusively on twentieth-century history, Sarah was determined to take as wide a range of modules as possible when she arrived at the University of Auckland. Three years followed of courses ranging from Ancient Egyptian religion to modern Australian history, but when she enrolled in a paper on the Later Roman Empire and the ‘barbarian’ kingdoms of Western Europe in her final semester she was hooked. Her Honours dissertation was on the origins of female monasticism in sixth-century Gaul; this was followed by a research masters on the function of double monasteries under the Merovingians and Carolingians in the sixth to eighth centuries and she was lured even closer to the High Middle Ages during her doctoral research. She is now peeking over at the Salian and Capetian dynasties with interest, but still likes to describe herself as an early medieval historian.


Hrotsvitha presenting her Gesta Ottonis to Otto I, photo attrib. Sarah Greer

Sarah was fortunate enough to be able to come to St Andrews on a fellowship through a research network called Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christendom (PIMIC), which also included Professor John Hudson, Professor Caroline Humfress and Cory Hitt. As PIMIC was an EU-funded Innovative Training Network, this meant that in addition to working on her thesis, Sarah has spent the past three years also taking part in a variety of training workshops across Europe. She was also seconded to work at Brill Publishers in Leiden for three months in 2014; at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne for three months in 2015; and at the Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales in Madrid for two months in 2016. She also took part in a month-long documentary film school as part of PIMIC, and remains grateful to the PhD students from the Mediaeval department who stood in as various members of the Ottonian imperial family for her documentary on Mathilda of Quedlinburg.


The city of Quedlinburg, photo attrib. Sarah Greer

Having submitted her doctoral thesis in September 2016, Sarah is delighted to be continuing her connection with both the School of History at St Andrews and the EU. She has been selected as the postdoctoral research fellow under the supervision of Professor MacLean as part of the new HERA-funded research network: ‘After Empire: Using and Not Using the Past in the Tenth Century’, which joins together historians from St Andrews, Exeter, Berlin, Vienna and Barcelona. Sarah will work on how tenth-century people interacted with earlier royal mausolea and used the memories of the past embedded in these sites in the post-Carolingian world. She is very happy to remain in Scotland for another three years on this fellowship, although she does at times miss New Zealand’s summers.


Monthly Round Up: October


Congratulations to Professor Carole Hillenbrand, who has been awarded the prestigious Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding for her book, Islam: A New Historical Introduction (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2015). The prize, worth £25,000, is awarded annually for outstanding scholarly contribution to transcultural understanding. The award is designed to illustrate the interconnected nature of cultures and civilizations, and was founded by the International Relations scholar, Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan.

Staff Activity

On 7 and 8 October, Dr Aileen Fyfe and Dr Noah Moxham participated in an international conference in Paris on ‘Copyright and the Circulation of Knowledge: Industry Practices and Public Interests in Great Britain from the 18th Century to the Present’. They spoke about the Royal Society’s involvement in the publication of scientific knowledge, and explained how it was only in the late 20th century that the Society began to see ‘copyright’ as an appropriate tool for its scholarly mission to circulate knowledge

Dr Chandrika Kaul was the featured guest on BBC World Service Weekend Review, 16th October, where she also spoke about her research on the British press, the BBC and India.

On 19 and 20 October 2016, in Belgrade, Serbia, Dr Tomasz Kamusella delivered two talks on the same subject, namely, ‘The Forgotten 1989 Expulsion of Turks from Communist Bulgaria.’ The first talk was hosted by the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory (Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju) at the University of Belgrade, Belgrade, and the other by the Institute for Balkan Studies (Balkanološki institut) in the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

On 27th October, Dr Aileen Fyfe appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’ to discuss the scientist John Dalton.

gypsiesOn 29th October, Dr Alex Woolf gave a short talk ‘Pefferham Revived’at the Aberlady Anglo-Saxon Feast.

Recent Publications

Nathan Alexander, ‘E.D. Morel (1873-1924), the Congo Reform Association, and the History of Human Rights’, Britain and the World, Vol. 9, No. 2, (September 2016): pp. 213-235.

Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov, Gypsies in Central Asia and the Caucasus, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Monthly Round Up: September


Congratulations to Dr Emily Michelson, who has won an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship (2017-2019) and a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2016-2017) for activities relating to her research on Jews, Catholics, and religious minorities in early modern Rome.

Staff Activity

On 12th September, Dr Tomasz Kamusella delivered a keynote talk on ‘Between National Teleology and Self-Identification’ at the conference on Identities In-Between: East-Central Europe, c. 1900-present in Wolfson College, Oxford University.

On 17th September, Dr Alex Woolf gave the plenary speech ‘From the Outside In: Agency and Attraction in Antique Maritime Networks’ at the Emerging Governance: Political Landscape in Early Mediaeval Atlantic Europe Conference at University College Dublin.

Dr Riccardo Bavaj organised a conference on Nation, Culture and Civilisation: Talking about and beyond ‘the West’ (1860-1940). While the first part of the workshop, held at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, focused on Germany, Britain, France, Russia and the US, the second part, held at the University of St Andrews and co-organised by Dr Konrad M. Lawson, shifted the geographical focus to Japan, Korea, China and the Ottoman Empire.

Dr Riccardo Bavaj, Dr Bernhard Struck, and Dr Konrad M. Lawson organised a workshop on Spatial History and Its Sources, which engaged with analytical approaches, themes, and sources in the emerging field of spatial history.

Recent Publications

Dr Riccardo Bavaj, Der Nationalsozialismus. Entstehung, Aufstieg und Herrschaft (be.bra, 2016).

Dr Riccardo Bavaj, ‘Pluralizing Democracy in Weimar Germany: Historiographical Perspectives and Transatlantic Vistas’, in Paul Nolte, ed., Transatlantic Democracy in the Twentieth Century: Transfer and Transformation (R. Oldenbourg, 2016), 53-73.

Professor Colin Kidd, ‘The Fergusson affair: Calvinism and dissimulation in the Scottish Enlightenment’, Intellectual History Review, 26.3 (2016), 339-354.

Dr Kate Ferris, Imagining ‘America’ in Late Nineteenth Century Spain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

Dr Aileen Fyfe and Noah Moxham, ‘Making public ahead of print: meetings and publications at the Royal Society, 1752–1892’, Notes & Records of the Royal Society 70 (2016).

Professor Richard Whatmore, “A lover of peace more than liberty.’ The Genevan response to Rousseau’s politics’ in Avi Lifshitz, ed., Engaging with Rousseau: Reception and Interpretation from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 1-16.

Professor Richard Whatmore, ‘Introduction‘, J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment:
Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton University Press, 2016), xii-xxii.

Professor Richard Whatmore, ‘Calvinism and Enlightenment: an Introduction’, Intellectual History Review, 26.3 (2016), 319-322.

Professor Richard Whatmore, ‘Geneva and Scotland: the Calvinist Legacy and After’, Intellectual History Review, 26.3 (2016), 391-410.


Postgraduate Seminar Series


Photo attrib. Ryan, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The History postgraduate community at St Andrews is especially vibrant, with many
opportunities for students to present their research, acquire new skills, and meet other postgraduates. In this blog post, PhD students Kimberly Sherman and Timothy Owens introduce the two postgraduate seminars series of the School of History.

Kimberly Sherman

Over the past few years, the Early Modern and Modern History (EMMH) Postgraduate Forum has become a fixture among the early modern and modern history cohort of PhDs and MLitt students. The forum aims to provide a comfortable and relaxed environment for postgraduates to present their research, workshop ideas, receive feedback, and generate discussion among their peers. Our sessions include postgraduate paper presentations, student-run skills sessions, and generally, a fun community for new ideas. Some papers presented at the forum have gone on to be published in peer-reviewed journals or have become the capstones of thesis projects. From digital history initiatives and staying organized with one’s research, to visiting archives and preparing for the job market, the EMMH has attempted to provide an atmosphere where students can learn from and encourage one another. Last spring, we ran a session designed for MLitts in which current St Andrews PhDs who earned their MLitts at the university gave advice on researching and writing the dissertation. The great response to the session guaranteed its recurrence on this year’s schedule.

The EMMH Postgraduate forum meets on scheduled Mondays during the academic year in St Katherine’s Lodge Room 1.10 at 17:15. Drinks and nibbles are provided and attendees are invited to join in our traditional pilgrimage to St Andrews Brewing Company for post-forum drinks and discussion. Keep up with news and events, listen to audio of past papers, or even propose a paper at our website or by contacting forum conveners Richard Daglish (rsd3) or Kimberley Sherman (ks222) for more information.

Timothy Owens

The postgraduate Mediæval History Seminar Series provides an opportunity for postgraduates at every level, from the most junior of MLitts to late-stage PhD students, to give an academic paper to an audience of their fellow postgraduates as well as any interested faculty members and the wider university community. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly, and collegiate, offering a great chance for postgraduates to practice papers that they are going to present at conferences, or simply to try out ideas for their research. Most of the time, the papers are focused on the scholarly interests of the postgraduate, but we also occasionally host speakers who instead offer their personal insight into the world of academia: whether that be a look at the pitfalls of trying to forge a career in a highly competitive sector, the idiosyncrasies of academic publishing, or issues of mental health in academia.

There is also a strong social aspect to the seminar series, which take place on Wednesdays at 5:15, in the New Seminar Room at St John’s House. Refreshments are provided at each event and after every paper the speaker and audience retire to a local pub to continue discussions in a more relaxed setting. Over the course of the year, the seminar series also hosts a number of special postgraduate parties, including the now (in)famous Halloween party! If you want to present, come along or simply know more, please visit the website to stay up to date!

PhD Induction Day 2016


Photo attrib. Agnieszka Mikolajczyk

Blog written by Dr Amy Eberlin

On an overcast Thursday in September, the School of History’s new PhD students were bundled off to a day of ice breakers, information, and a tasty lasagne lunch at the beautiful Cambo House in Kingsbarns, Fife. For the third year in a row, Cambo House and Estates was the location for the annual ‘School of History PhD Induction’, providing a warm and inviting setting for incoming doctoral students to learn about the School of History and the PhD experience.

The day started off with some general introductions before we jumped into ‘speed meeting’. Similar to speed dating, but with significantly less romance, new and old students alike were encouraged to get to know their partner through five minutes of conversation. With the age old (and overused) questions ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘What is your research topic?’ banned from use, the students were given alternative question suggestions to spark conversations. Everyone was up to the task, throwing themselves into swift conversations before being told to switch partners and start all over again.

Next on the day’s agenda was a guide to the School of History given by Elsie, Riccardo Bavaj, and Dawn Hollis. Elsie and Riccardo went over the School’s postgraduate student handbook, providing the new PhD students with essential information about the School of History’s facilities, the yearly progress review, research funds, and the support provided by postgraduate and faculty mentors. Dawn spoke about PGR representation and the function of PGR representatives.

We then broke for tea, coffee and quite an impressive selection of cakes. Armed with caffeine and sugar, we quickly returned to conversations about the PhD. After giving some advice to the new doctoral students about writing a thesis, Riccardo had them break into groups and think about what it means to produce ‘an original contribution to knowledge’. This was a valuable question, which, hopefully, will stick with these students as they progress through their doctoral experience. Each group responded to the question with interesting and thought provoking answers, leading to a wider group discussion considering the question.

Following from that, Agnieszka Mikolajczyk and Matthew Ylitalo, second year PhD students in the School of History, and Dawn Hollis spoke about ‘being a PhD student’ and the thesis-related activities that they were involved in. Agnieszka told us about the conference papers that she has presented and the summer language course that she attended in Iceland. Matt described the talks that he has given to school children, local history societies, and local museums, and the SGSAH workshops that he has attended. dsc03102Finally, Dawn spoke about the opportunities to become involved in the School of History and the wider university, representing the interests of PGR students, and the international conferences. This session reflected the myriad of exciting opportunities available to PhD students in the School of History outwith writing their thesis. However, each student also emphasised the life that they have outside of their PhD, speaking about their hobbies, families and wider social life as providing balance in their doctoral experience.

The last session of the day (and the last before lunch) was mine. Having submitted my thesis just over a month ago, Dawn asked that I speak on ‘the view from the top’ and provide some insight into the PhD as a whole. Reflecting on my four years at St Andrews, I tried to give the new students advice that I got in my early years and some that I would have liked to have had. Emphasising the need to have a life outside of the PhD, I also spoke about establishing a relationship with your supervisor, organising yourself and your work, and responding flexibly to challenges.

After my very brief session on the whole experience of the PhD, we ended the day’s events with a delicious lunch of lasagne, salad and garlic bread, followed by a dessert of crumble and cream. Continuing on from the organised sessions, conversation bubbled over as we finished off our lunches and headed back to St Andrews.

All in all, the annual PhD induction day for the School of History’s newest PhD students was quite a success!

The ILCR and ‘Talking Law’

Blog written by Dr Will Evestalkinglaw

In February 2016 the ILCR received an AHRC 10th Anniversary Public Engagement Grant for a project entitled ‘Talking Law’. The aim was to unite scholars and legal professionals with members of public in a discussion about the role of law in our society.

This goal was achieved through a dramatisation of the trial of Patrick Hamilton, who was tried and executed for heresy in St Andrews in 1528, followed by a public debate about the legal issues raised by the trial which are still relevant today.

talkinglaw2The sell-out event took place at the Byre theatre in St Andrews on 6 May 2016. Hamilton’s trial was re-enacted by student actors, and a panel comprising a judge, a barrister and a retired assistant chief constable then discussed the issues which resonated with their own experience of the legal profession. Questions were then invited from an audience of both academic and non-academic attendees and matters such as freedom of speech and the impact of the death penalty on society were discussed.

A companion website has been created which contains background information, guides to further reading, virtual reconstructions of the key locations involved in the trial, quizzes and other interactive material. The project also received national media coverage through a feature on the BBC News website. A pitch for a follow-up radio series, bringing the ‘Talking Law’ format to a wider audience, is currently being developed.