Conference hosted by the Heirs to the Throne Project

Heirs to the Throne processionOn 30-31 August, the Heirs to the Throne project hosted its first international conference on Monarchical Succession and the Political Culture of 19th-Century Europe, which brought speakers to St Andrews from Hungary, Germany, Italy, the UK, Denmark, Belgium, Spain and Austria.

The conference focused on the political roles played by heirs to the throne within their respective dynastic systems across a largely monarchical Europe between 1815 and 1914. The concept of hereditary rule made heirs and heiresses to the throne a crucial part of monarchical systems: While the sovereign represented the embodiment of existing rule, his successor embodied rule “in the making”; personality, ideas and concepts still to be shaped. The political sphere in any constitutional monarchy generated plenty of interested parties doing their best to “prepare” the future monarchy by actively influencing this next generation. Despite its strong appeal very little research on a national and even less on a comparative level have been done about the relationship between the heir to the throne’s office and political representation. In the context of this conference heirs and heiresses were used as prisms to explore Europe’s monarchical systems, the institutions, agencies, groups and individuals engaged in either sustaining or challenging them.

Two keynote lectures given by the project team, Principal Investigator Frank Müller and Postdoctoral Researcher Heidi Mehrkens, and Christopher Clark of the University of Cambridge, focused on dynastic generations, on Fathers and Sons. The (political) function of the heir was analysed against the backdrop of royal family-life and the supreme authority of the monarch, the heir being obliged to show love and respect against the pater familias. Four panels then aimed to explore the societies and cultures within which heirs existed and operated. The first panel concentrated on the heir’s biography, his perception as personality and individual contribution to specific constitutional contexts. The second panel dealt with succession crisis and what happened when there was no heir to succeed to the throne. To what extent was the political sphere involved in solving the most crucial dynastic dilemma of all? The third panel shed some light on “courtly contexts”, e.g. on political dimensions of appointing the heir’s entourage, while the last panel focused on heirs during the Great War. A detailed report and a conference volume are in preparation.

About standrewshistory
With over forty fulltime members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from Scotland to Byzantium and the Americas to South Asia. Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching, allowing for in-depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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