Katarzyna Kosior: SRS Study Fellowship (2015-16)

This thesis, 'Being a Queen in Early Modern Europe: East and West', approaches sixteenth-century European queenship through analysis of ceremonies and rituals accompanying the metamorphosis of a noblewoman or princess into a queen consort.  The main aims are to establish how these ceremonies combined national with foreign and European customs and to combat the stereotype of the cultural ‘otherness’ and political isolation of sixteenth-century Poland in relation to the ‘West’ by a comparison with France, considered a quintessentially ‘Western’ early modern state. While Poland and France were not linked by a dynastic marriage in the sixteenth century, French and Polish queens consort were related by blood and married their husbands for similar political reasons. The thesis also explores the importance of these events for queens as both a personal and public experience and questions the existence of distinctly Western and Eastern styles of queenship. While the focus is primarily on the Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellonian and French Valois consorts, further European context is provided by secondary literature on English queens, Holy Roman Empresses as well as the Polish princesses who became queens of Hungary and Sweden.

A comparative study of ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ royal ceremony in the sixteenth century has never been accomplished before, which might be because very little has been written about Eastern royal ceremonies, especially those relating to queens. Furthermore, sixteenth-century Polish queens do not appear in any collective works about queenship, even those which claim to have a pan-European focus. While there have been studies on queens in a variety of European regions, a study of Eastern queenship has never been produced.  This thesis aims to fill these gaps by putting both the Western and Eastern queens and ceremonies in their larger European context by exploring connections and divisions between the royal culture and ideas of queenship in the sixteenth century.