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Passion, Marriage, Love: Gendered Emotions and Power in Early Modern France

 Jean Froissart 500 x 250

Jean Froissart, The marriage of Philipe d'Artois to Marie, daughter of the Duc de Berry.  Image courtesy of the British Library.

Date: Tuesday 4 February 2014
Time: 12.30 - 3.30pm
Venue: Rogers Room, John Woolley Building (A20), The University of Sydney
Presenter: Associate Professor Tracy Adams  (The University of Auckland)
Enquiries: Contact Craig Lyons

Assoc. Prof. Adams' paper will be presented alongside a paper from Prof. Richard Strier (The University of Chicago).  Both papers will be followed by a Roundtable Discussion.

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Abstract: This project follows the careers of a female network originating at the court of Anne of France (1461-1522), regent for her brother Charles VIII, and mentor to many girls who went on to illustrious careers: Marguerite of Austria, Louise of Savoy, Diane de Poitiers and Anne of Brittany. To this original circle I add the next generation: Anne of Brittany’s daughters Claude, Queen of France and Renée, Countess of Ferrara, together with Louise of Savoy’s daughter, Marguerite de Navarre, who in turn trained her own daughter, Jeanne d’Albret. Master of politics, Anne passed on knowledge about succeeding in a man’s world. Her father Louis XI chose her to be unofficial regent on his deathbed, apparently believing that in this way she would encounter less opposition than if she were formally appointed. Although female regency in France continued to be exercised unofficially, it was an important institution. From the beginning of Anne’s regency until Louis XIV came of age, ending the regency of Anne of Austria, the kingdom was for all practical purposes ruled by women for about 42 years, which is to say that, in a kingdom that prohibited female rule, women ruled about 25% of that time.

I examine Anne of France’s extended circle as an “emotional community” with the goal of understanding how members were prepared emotionally to exercise power while conforming to a repertoire of female stereotypes. Their libraries are of special interest, because in the works they shared we find models for ideal emotional modulation. I will present from a chapter on marriage, passion, and love. Passionate love was the result of an imbalance of humors; marital affection was an idealized, modulated emotional state between spouses in dynastic marriages. I compare some idealized representations of marital relationships in works from the libraries of the women with reports about these relationships from chronicles and ambassadors’ letters. These sources are all “texts”, of course, but I believe that, in comparing what was perceived as an ideal with impressions of the women, we find clues as to how they assimilated and manipulated their
emotional models.