IMC 2017: Sessions

Session 641: Castles and Representing Aristocratic Power

Tuesday 4 July 2017, 11.15-12.45

Sponsor:Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Culture, University of Southampton
Organiser:Peter Douglas Clarke, Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Culture, University of Southampton
Moderator/Chair:Peter Douglas Clarke, Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Culture, University of Southampton
Paper 641-aHow Does Melusine's Castle-Building Regime Contribute to the Representation of Her as a Mother in the Roman de Melusine?
(Language: English)
Kirsty A. S. Bolton, Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Culture / Department of English, University of Southampton
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Politics and Diplomacy, Women's Studies
Paper 641-bWriting History in the Castle: Memory and Ideology under the Visconti, 1360-1402
(Language: English)
Maria Chiara Succurro, Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Culture, University of Southampton
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Politics and Diplomacy
Paper 641-cThe Stanley Family Ballads
(Language: English)
Kate Bicknell, Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Culture, University of Southampton
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Military History, Politics and Diplomacy
Abstract

This is one of two sessions proposed by the organiser on the theme of ‘Castles’. This is the research theme for 2016-17 of the research centre (CMRC) to which all participants in this session belong: ‘Castles’ will be the subject of two of the centre’s key annual events, its research day and the Reuter Lecture; the latter will form a keynote address in a major conference on ‘Castles’ to be organised by CMRC members. The session also reflects the interdisciplinary approaches of the centre, in particular the use of literary texts as historical evidence reflecting social attitudes and preoccupations. The session is thus designed to raise the profile of the centre and its activities. The contents of the session are as follows: Paper -a: Melusine, the eponymous heroine of this romance of 1393, is famed as the mother of 10 heroic sons and the founder of the Lusignan dynasty, which ruled in France, Cyprus, and Jerusalem throughout the Middle Ages. Jean d’Arras’s text was composed on commission of Jean duc de Berry to defend his claim to the very first castle that Melusine is supposed to have built, the fortress of Lusignan. How, then, does Melusine’s role as a builder of castles relate to her enactment of motherhood within the text? How does she compare to historical female castle builders, such as Ethelflaeda and Maud de Braose? Is it Melusine’s supernatural heritage that allows her to manage the conventionally gender divided roles of mother and builder? Paper -b: The signoria of the Visconti, lords of Milan, reached the peak of its power under the dominion of Galeazzo II and Gian Galeazzo. With the building of the castle of Pavia (started in 1365), in the same place were gathered together the court, the chancery, the library, and the prominent intellectuals and humanists who played a key role in developing the ideological support to Visconti policy through the production of texts. The paper examines the historiographical works produced in the milieu of the Visconti castle, aimed to legitimate and celebrate the dynasty through the manipulation and construction of historical memory, and specially the case-study of the Dal Verme codex: through examining this manuscript, we get a rare glimpse at the practices of writing in the Chancery of a signoria. Paper -c: Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries the Stanley family of Cheshire and Lancashire were building and consolidating their local and national power base. During the 15th century the most notable Stanley, Lord Thomas (first Earl of Derby) was in part responsible for the deposition of Richard III in favour of his own stepson Henry Tudor. The battle of Bosworth Field has, of late, gained a resurgence in the public eye and a number of ballads about the Stanleys and their actions surrounding the battle still exist. This paper will discuss the collection of Stanley ballads as sources for the study of the family in the 15th century, as well as being an explanation of their power in that period from the perspective of the ballad authors. Not only The Ballad of Bosworth Field but also The Ballad of Lady Bessy still exist, as well as ‘The Stanley Poem’. The Stanleys feature in Shakespeare’s Richard III also, providing the famous coronation scene which can be seen as well in these poems. These poems can give us a unique perspective into the ideal image of the Stanley family during the 15th century and beyond, showing how the family wished to be seen by those who heard these ballads performed, not to mention giving detail regarding the battle of Bosworth itself and the run-up to it, how the Stanleys, likely commissioners of these works, would have liked it to be seen: not as traitors to Richard III but as romantic heroes.