Tagung: Building the Presence of the Prince 8-9. November 2019

Building the Presence of the Prince

TAGUNG: Building the Presence of the Prince: The Institutions Related with the Ruler´s Works as Key Elements of the European Courts (XIVth-XVIIth Centuries)*

VENUE: Museum Catharijneconvent Utrecht, Lange Nieuwstraat 38, Utrecht (NL)
DATES: 8-9 November 2019
CHAIRS: José Eloy Hortal Muñoz (URJC) and Merlijn Hurx (UU)


Nowadays the rulers’ residences and convents (Royal Sites) are often seen by the general public as the curious dwellings of royal families, who lived isolated from society. However, such places were not only built for pleasure, but they belonged to a larger network of buildings and estates that together played an important role in the ruler’s administration. Apart from palaces, these domains often comprised forests, agricultural lands, watercourses and ponds, as well as defence works and industrial and commercial buildings such as mills, tollhouses, and factories. From the Middle Ages onwards, these networks of sites became increasingly important for the consolidation of the sovereign’s power, playing a key role in the promotion of their rule. To improve control over their domanial buildings and to ensure their upkeep, rulers set up permanent administrative bodies entrusted with their management. In principle, the centralization of their building management was a financial reform, however this reform should also be considered within the context of the expansion of the sovereign’s presence throughout the realm.

These building administrations have not been yet compared systematically, and it remains unclear to what extent such centralized bodies developed autonomously, responding to local conditions and requirements, or were part of international developments facilitated by the close networks of the European courts.

This symposium brings together scholars from various disciplines as a first attempt to compare these institutions on a pan-European scale from the late Middle Ages up to the end of the 17th century. It aims to investigate the relationships between the local idiosyncrasies of these organisations and their shared European characteristics. It addresses from a multidisciplinary perspective questions concerning the nature of such administrations, their purpose, organisational structure, and judicial status, as well as their role in the formation of the state.


* This symposium is a collaboration of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid (URJC), and Universiteit Utrecht (UU), and is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the Graduate
School Art History, the Royal Dutch Archaeological Association (KNOB), Gemeente Utrecht and Stichting Professor van Winter fonds.


Friday 8 November
13:00 Welcome by officer KNOB Welcome by Jeroen Westerman, General Secretary of the Royal Dutch Archaeological Association.
13:05 Introduction by Merlijn Hurx and José Eloy Hortal Muñoz
13:30 Thomas Rapin (Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours, France) Building for a Royal Prince around 1400 in France
14:00 Robert Stein (Leiden University) The Brabantine ‘Office of Works’ and the Centralization of Burgundian Administration
14:30 Merlijn Hurx (Utrecht University) Centralization and Decentralization in the Burgundian Building Administrations in the Low Countries
15:30 Sarah Lynch (Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg Germany), Tradition, Interlopers, Reform: The Political and Artistic Context of the Prague Castle ‘Bauordnung’
16:00 Anna-Victoria Bognár (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany), Building Administrations in the Holy Roman Empire. A brief Overview of Multifaceted Developments and a Search for their Provisory Factors
16:30 Krista De Jonge (KU Leuven, Belgium), (Re-)building the Office of Works at the Brussels Court at the Dawn of the 17th Century. The Archdukes between Burgundy and Spain

Saturday 9 November
10:00 Konrad Ottenheym (Utrecht University), Building the Prince’s Palaces: The Nassau Domains’ Council, Architects and Building Contractors
10:30 Sanne Maekelberg (KU Leuven, Belgium), Building Practice of the High Nobility in the Low Countries: The Architectural Mastermind of Charles of Croÿ (1560-1612)
11:30 Manuel Rivero Rodriguez (UAM), Royal Palaces without Kings: The Viceregal Courts and the Integration of Kingdoms in the Spanish Monarchy
12:00 Koldo Trápaga (URJC, Spain) Power, Environment and Territory: The Royal Woodlands of the Portuguese Monarchy in a Pan-European Perspective (XV-XVIIth centuries)
13:30 Simon Thurley (Institute of Historical Research/Gresham College, UK), Royal Ambition and the Stuart Office of Works 1604-1649
14:00 Fabian Persson (Linnaeus University, Sweden), Fracturing or Strengthening the Royal Presence: Dynasticism and Royal Places in Early Modern Sweden
14:30 Benjamin Ringot (Centre de recherches du château de Versailles), The Superintendence of the King’s Buildings at the Turn of the Grand Siècle: Between Tradition and Evolution, Jules Hardouin-Mansart’s Era
15:30 Félix Labrador Arroyo (URJC, Spain) The Financing of the Junta de Obras y Bosques and the Royal Works of the Spanish Monarchy during the 17th Century
16:00 José Eloy Hortal Muñoz, The Role of Royal Sites in Shaping the Image of the European Dynasties during the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Times
16:30 Jeroen Duindam (Leiden University), The Spatial History of Princes and Courts: A Global View