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The ‘Melancholy Pompous Sight’: Royal Deaths and the Politics of Ritual in the Late Stuart Monarchy, c. 1685-1714

Walker, Mark (2016) The ‘Melancholy Pompous Sight’: Royal Deaths and the Politics of Ritual in the Late Stuart Monarchy, c. 1685-1714. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This thesis explores the deaths, funerals and other associated rituals given at the deaths of British monarchs and royals in the late Stuart period (1660-1714) with a focus on those occurring between the death of King Charles II in 1685 and the death of Queen Anne in 1714. This topic has lacked in-depth archival study and the existing historiography has often focused on larger cultural forces. This thesis presents a series of case studies structured around one or two deaths in particular, examining the ritual response as planned by the Royal Household and Privy Councillors within the wider and immediate political context which shaped their decisions. The first chapter reconstructs the process of a royal death at this time by drawing off a large amount of primary material and examples from across the period being studied. Subsequent chapters explore the political motivations and reasons behind the ‘private’ funeral for Charles II in 1685, the opposite decision for a larger heraldic or ‘public’ funeral for Mary II in 1695 and the decision to hold neither a funeral nor a ritual response beyond the familial obligation of mourning for James II in 1701. Another chapter explores the act of court mourning and how its relationship to gendered ideas about monarchy and grief underpinned the political responses to Queen Anne’s two years of mourning after her husband’s death in 1708. The final chapter explores two deaths and their relationship to the Glorious Revolution’s pursuit for a secure and defined Protestant Succession which ultimately overshadowed the rituals performed at their deaths. Together these demonstrate how politics, ritual and culture were interlinked and how immediate circumstances made rituals malleable and thus changes to them occurred, if somewhat inconsistently, over time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Mark Walker
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2016 16:10
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 02:00

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