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The Ceremonial Body: The Significance of Bodies in Dynastic Ceremonies of the Swedish Monarchy, 1782-1818

Isacsson, Alexander LU (2017) HISS33 20171
History
Abstract
The late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century was a turbulent time for the monarchies of Europe, the Swedish included. Since Gustav III’s coup in 1772, the king strove to enhance the royal prerogative. Ceremonies were crucial in the monarchy’s language of power and establishment of legitimacy but oppositional forces within the nobility nevertheless provoked the regicide of Gustav III in 1792. His heir, Gustav IV Adolf, managed the Gustavian legacy but a failure in attaining discursive authority and the disastrous economic and political circumstances resulted in his dethronement in 1809. The Riksdag gathered and elaborated a constitutional reform, marking Sweden’s transition to a new form of constitutional monarchy under Charles... (More)
The late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century was a turbulent time for the monarchies of Europe, the Swedish included. Since Gustav III’s coup in 1772, the king strove to enhance the royal prerogative. Ceremonies were crucial in the monarchy’s language of power and establishment of legitimacy but oppositional forces within the nobility nevertheless provoked the regicide of Gustav III in 1792. His heir, Gustav IV Adolf, managed the Gustavian legacy but a failure in attaining discursive authority and the disastrous economic and political circumstances resulted in his dethronement in 1809. The Riksdag gathered and elaborated a constitutional reform, marking Sweden’s transition to a new form of constitutional monarchy under Charles XIII. The elderly king and queen consort had no living heirs and a successor to the throne needed to be appointed. After several misadventures, power struggles and intrigues a French marshal was elected. In 1818 he was crowned Charles XIV John and a new dynasty was inaugurated on the throne in Sweden and Norway.

The aforementioned monarchy is the subject of this thesis. More specifically, the analysis concerns a selection of royal dynastic ceremonies, i.e. coronations and funerals, apprehended as vital in the language of monarchy. Emanating from the manuscript sources, the scrutinised time period is set from 1782 to 1818. Consequently, the in-depth study concerns Louisa Ulrika’s funeral in 1782, Gustav III’s funeral in 1792, Gustav IV Adolf’s assumption of power in 1796 and subsequent coronation in 1800, the coronation ceremony of Charles XIII and Charlotte in 1809 and their respective funerals in 1818, Sofia Magdalena’s funeral in 1813 and, lastly, the coronations of Charles XIV John in Sweden and Norway in 1818. The ceremonies are comprehended in terms of public theatre, in which the monarchy strove to penetrate the perceptions of participants and turn myths and themes of kingship into reality. A theoretical perspective is applied, inspired by ‘the corporeal turn’, emphasising the role of bodies throughout history. The main questions thus regard the significance of bodies in ceremonies and the public theatre, the various meanings ascribed to the human body and the ceremonial body’s relation to greater political, social and cultural contexts. The advised source material mainly consists of official journals produced by the court’s Grand Master of Ceremonies, but the office journals are supplemented with printed ceremonial instructions and published diaries.

The analysis shows that bodies and their techniques were of great significance. The myths and themes imperative to mediate – dynastic stability, gender, royal superiority and magnificence but also division of power between king and commonwealth, the personal relation between the ruler and the ruled, popular support, observance of rank and precedence, tradition as well as modernity – needed not only to be uttered but inhabited in the body, i.e., manifested, produced and reproduced through bodies. Continuity between the Gustavian era and post-Gustavian era is palpable. Discernible differences related to political, social and cultural transformations but the functions of ceremonial bodies corresponded. Thus, the body was employed to mediate the reconciliation of the many inherent contradictions of monarchy. However, it stands clear that bodies were not the sole components of importance in the public theatre. It is emphasised that court studies cannot neglect the significance of bodies, but at the same time further research is needed to clarify the complex relation between bodies, material culture and space. (Less)
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author
Isacsson, Alexander LU
supervisor
organization
course
HISS33 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Monarchy, ceremony, dynasty, body
language
English
id
8966743
date added to LUP
2020-01-22 09:37:48
date last changed
2020-01-22 09:37:48
@misc{8966743,
  abstract     = {The late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century was a turbulent time for the monarchies of Europe, the Swedish included. Since Gustav III’s coup in 1772, the king strove to enhance the royal prerogative. Ceremonies were crucial in the monarchy’s language of power and establishment of legitimacy but oppositional forces within the nobility nevertheless provoked the regicide of Gustav III in 1792. His heir, Gustav IV Adolf, managed the Gustavian legacy but a failure in attaining discursive authority and the disastrous economic and political circumstances resulted in his dethronement in 1809. The Riksdag gathered and elaborated a constitutional reform, marking Sweden’s transition to a new form of constitutional monarchy under Charles XIII. The elderly king and queen consort had no living heirs and a successor to the throne needed to be appointed. After several misadventures, power struggles and intrigues a French marshal was elected. In 1818 he was crowned Charles XIV John and a new dynasty was inaugurated on the throne in Sweden and Norway. 

The aforementioned monarchy is the subject of this thesis. More specifically, the analysis concerns a selection of royal dynastic ceremonies, i.e. coronations and funerals, apprehended as vital in the language of monarchy. Emanating from the manuscript sources, the scrutinised time period is set from 1782 to 1818. Consequently, the in-depth study concerns Louisa Ulrika’s funeral in 1782, Gustav III’s funeral in 1792, Gustav IV Adolf’s assumption of power in 1796 and subsequent coronation in 1800, the coronation ceremony of Charles XIII and Charlotte in 1809 and their respective funerals in 1818, Sofia Magdalena’s funeral in 1813 and, lastly, the coronations of Charles XIV John in Sweden and Norway in 1818. The ceremonies are comprehended in terms of public theatre, in which the monarchy strove to penetrate the perceptions of participants and turn myths and themes of kingship into reality. A theoretical perspective is applied, inspired by ‘the corporeal turn’, emphasising the role of bodies throughout history. The main questions thus regard the significance of bodies in ceremonies and the public theatre, the various meanings ascribed to the human body and the ceremonial body’s relation to greater political, social and cultural contexts. The advised source material mainly consists of official journals produced by the court’s Grand Master of Ceremonies, but the office journals are supplemented with printed ceremonial instructions and published diaries.

The analysis shows that bodies and their techniques were of great significance. The myths and themes imperative to mediate – dynastic stability, gender, royal superiority and magnificence but also division of power between king and commonwealth, the personal relation between the ruler and the ruled, popular support, observance of rank and precedence, tradition as well as modernity – needed not only to be uttered but inhabited in the body, i.e., manifested, produced and reproduced through bodies. Continuity between the Gustavian era and post-Gustavian era is palpable. Discernible differences related to political, social and cultural transformations but the functions of ceremonial bodies corresponded. Thus, the body was employed to mediate the reconciliation of the many inherent contradictions of monarchy. However, it stands clear that bodies were not the sole components of importance in the public theatre. It is emphasised that court studies cannot neglect the significance of bodies, but at the same time further research is needed to clarify the complex relation between bodies, material culture and space.},
  author       = {Isacsson, Alexander},
  keyword      = {Monarchy,ceremony,dynasty,body},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Ceremonial Body: The Significance of Bodies in Dynastic Ceremonies of the Swedish Monarchy, 1782-1818},
  year         = {2017},
}