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Heirs to the Throne in the Constitutional Monarchies of Nineteenth-Century Europe (1815-1914)


AHRC
A Research Project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and based at the University of St Andrews

 

The ‘Heirs to the throne’ podcast series: a royal treat for your ears!

We have all been there: you are keen to find out more about the fascinating experiences of a nineteenth-century royal heir, about what shaped his or her life and how he or she made a difference to their world, but the time is not right for reading.

Maybe you are out jogging, pottering round the kitchen to prepare a delicious meal or soaking in a nice hot bath. How often have we sighed: “Why can’t someone tell me a great story? Where is the kindly soul who would make me feel delighted and informed?”

Finally, our prayers have been answered. The Heirs-to-the-Throne Team are proud to announce the start of our podcast series: a selection of the finest “Heir-of-the Month” essays will now be made available as mini-lectures.

A right royal treat for your ears is now only a mouse-click away!

This week: Listen to the exciting story of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg, read by Heidi Mehrkens (wav-file, 19:55 min).

Overview of all our podcasts.

 

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What’s the project about?

 

On the eve of the First World War Europe was a continent of monarchies. A long 19th century of revolutions, wars, growing literacy, an expanding public sphere, political parties appealing to enlarged electorates, changes in social, economic, intellectual and technological life and imperial expansion lay behind them, but the continent’s monarchical systems had survived these changes in surprisingly rude health. That monarchies had flourished throughout these profound transformations points to their suppleness and ingenuity.

This research project focuses, for the first time, systematically and comparatively on the roles played and contributions made by those waiting to come into the glittering inheritance of a European crown. The biological realities of hereditary rule made heirs to the throne a crucial part of monarchical systems. By analysing the heirs to the continent’s many thrones, the project offers a new perspective on the political culture of the states and societies of 19th-century Europe.

The project builds on the rich body of recent research that engages with 19th-century monarchy in the fields of media history, cultural history and transnational history. It addresses thematic questions across several constitutional monarchies: Did heirs to the throne stabilise monarchical government or were they corrosive of the current reign? What were the international and military roles of heirs? Did heirs function as intermediaries between the sovereign and the people? How important were new “bourgeois” styles of princely comportment and the creation of a celebrity public image through various media? Were heirs perceived as embodying generational change? Were heirs engaged in generating “soft power”?

The project explores the resourcefulness, media acumen and societal integration of 19th-century monarchies. It will complement and challenge interpretations which emphasize their allegedly oppressive elements and help to explain the lasting popularity of monarchy. Two international conferences took place in 2013 and 2015.

Europe’s Crown Princes processing in front of Queen Victoria (1887)

Europe’s Crown Princes processing in front of Queen Victoria (1887)