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S. Rode-Breymann; A. Tumat, Der Hof (Andrew L. Thomas)

Francia-Recensio 2015/1 Frühe Neuzeit – Revolution – Empire (1500–1815)

Susanne Rode-Breymann, Antje Tumat (Hg.), Der Hof. Ort kulturellen Handelns von Frauen in der Frühen Neuzeit, Köln, Weimar, Wien (Böhlau), 2013, 386 S. (Musik-Kultur-Gender, 12), ISBN 978-3-412-21102-8, EUR 44,90.

rezensiert von/compte rendu rédigé par

Andrew L. Thomas, Winston-Salem, NC

This monograph edited by Susanne Rode-Breymann and Antje Tumat embodies the results of the 2010 interdisciplinary conference under the auspices of the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover in cooperation with the Herzog-August-Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. The book is a valuable and welcome addition to the studies of women at courts in the early modern era. Many of the authors are prominent pioneers in this field. It demonstrates the continued value of interdisciplinary perspectives in understanding the role of women at the court. Concomitantly, it opens up new vistas on the promising research potential concerning female influences at court. In particular, this monograph is especially noteworthy for its extensive examination of female musical activity in this court context.

Following an introduction by Susanne Rode-Breymann, the schema of the book consists of essays divided into four themes: court activity, identity roles, concepts of space, and networks. In the first essay dealing with court activity, Heide Wunder lucidly outlines the political dimensions and cultural dynamics of female consorts in the various secular courts within the Holy Roman Empire from the 16 th to the 18 th centuries. She underscores their significance in perpetuating and shaping dynastic and territorial identity. In the next essay for this section, Susanne Rode-Breymann offers a very insightful account of the opportunities and challenges for court women to both patronize and compose music. She notes that Eleonore Magdalena, the third wife of Emperor Leopold I, exemplified the protean nature of female musical activity in her role as a wife, regent, and widow.

The next section, identity roles, consists of thought-provoking essays concerning the various roles of women at court. Like Rode-Breymann, Christine Fischer explores the importance of female court composers, including Eleonore Magdalena, and the more opaque positional roles in the musical life of the court. However, Fischer emphasizes their placement within a broader communications network at court. By discussing various compositions, she articulates well how women composers were able to negotiate space between the Frauenzimmer and the broader court. She also highlighted how the Electress of Saxony, Maria Antonia, was able to communicate a new paradigm of female rulership through her opera Talestri (1760). Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly adeptly addresses how having mistresses for personal comfort and a wife to sustain the dynasty may have benefited the male rulers, but it was much more challenging for the women involved: the wives experienced humiliation and the mistresses felt the vulnerability of an insecure relationship. Cornelia Niekus Moore then illuminates the female consorts expected roles as paragons of virtue in mirror of prince literature and the expected aspects of the curriculum vitae of the princess as depicted in funeral literature.

Pernille Arenfeldt then challenges traditional assumptions about the activities of aristocratic court females by arguing that Anna, Electress of Saxony (1550–1585), was not an anomaly in her interest in livestock production and herbs. Arenfeldt argues that Anna’s correspondences with other female rulers demonstrate that this bucolic concern over livestock was shared by several of her contemporaries and reflected their involvement in the broader economic affairs of the territory as a » domain economy « . This essay makes a compelling case that this aspect of female activity at court deserves further research. Ute Küpers-Braun successfully explores the opportunities for both Catholic and Lutheran females to become abbesses in the Empire and their significant range of activities. For those defined as princess of the Empire, political activity included such things as being responsible for the minting of coins, and having a place in Imperial Diets. In a similar vein as Küpers-Braun, Ulrike Gleixner lucidly examines the broad possibilities of abbesses of the Empire. Gleixner also highlights the patronage efforts of the protestant Abbess of Gandersheim, Elisabeth Ernestine Antonie von Sachsen-Meiningen (1681–1766). Her patronage not only affected Baroque art and architecture, but also missionary work in India connected to Pietists’ activities in Halle. In the final essay in this section on identity roles, Katrin Keller discusses the Frauenzimmer as a court institution and convincingly underscores the potential of the Obersthofmeisterin as a cultural intermediary between court ladies and the female consorts.

The third section of the book, concepts of space, is more international in coverage and begins with Veronica Biermann’s nuanced account of how Queen Christina of Sweden managed to create and perpetuate her status as a royal figure and patroness of a variety of activities even after her settlement in Rome following her conversion to Catholicism and abdication from the Swedish throne in 1655. Ruth Müller-Lindenberg then carefully analyzes how Wilhelmine of Bayreuth (1709–1758) was able to create musical space at court that allowed Bayreuth to become an early modern Parnassus. Michael Wenzel demonstrates how the English queen Mary II’s Hampton Court Beauties gallery represents female artistic patronage that actually expresses continuity rather than discontinuity of court culture between the Restoration era and the reign of William and Mary following the Revolution of 1688. Helga Meise offers a trenchant discussion of the prominent role of Landgravine Elisabeth Dorothea of Hessen-Darmstadt had in creating the court culture at the castle while acting as a regent for her son from 1678 to 1688. It was a culture emphasizing work and order; indeed, she successfully consolidated the court’s finances. Next, Andreas Waczkat contends that his analysis of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s opera » Médée « (1693) offers an example of female cultural displacement that could possibly reflect that experienced by some women entering a new court.

The fourth and final section of the book, networks, begins with Jill Bepler’s stimulating discussion of how she sleuthed court female’s activities as book collectors and the literary networks they forged. This legacy also makes salient the importance of literacy and property rights for female court identity as well the reality that female collections were more vulnerable to being integrated into other libraries than male book collections. Beatrix Bastl thoughtfully discusses the potential literary conundrum of what actually constitutes a letter and the role played by intimate discourse in defining it. Judith Aiken cogently comments on the proactive role of court women in creating and promoting devotional songs in Lutheran territories of the Holy Roman Empire during the 17 th century. In the final essay of the book Mara Wade adroitly demonstrates the role of Princess Magdalene Sibylle (1617–1688) in cultural transfer with her influence in court ballet in Denmark and Saxony as a form of » social-disciplining « . In sum, all of these essays offer significant insights into the very diverse roles of women at court and this book should serve as a catalyst for further studies.

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PSJ Metadata
Andrew L. Thomas
S. Rode-Breymann; A. Tumat, Der Hof (Andrew L. Thomas)
CC-BY 3.0
Frühe Neuzeit (1500-1789), Spätes Mittelalter (1350-1500)
Geschlechtergeschichte, Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte
16. Jh., 17. Jh.
4015701-5 4018202-2 4122200-3 4040802-4
Europa (4015701-5), Frau (4018202-2), Höfische Kultur (4122200-3), Musik (4040802-4)
PDF document rode-breymann_thomas.doc.pdf — PDF document, 110 KB
S. Rode-Breymann; A. Tumat, Der Hof (Andrew L. Thomas)
In: Francia-Recensio 2015/1 | Frühe Neuzeit - Revolution - Empire (1500-1815) | ISSN: 2425-3510
URL: https://prae.perspectivia.net/publikationen/francia/francia-recensio/2015-1/FN/rode-breymann-tumat_thomas
Veröffentlicht am: 11.03.2015 14:00
Zugriff vom: 17.02.2020 10:25
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