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Royal Epiphanies. The King's Body as Image and Its Mise-en-scène in the Medieval Mediterranean (centuries 12th-14th)

English title Royal Epiphanies. The King's Body as Image and Its Mise-en-scène in the Medieval Mediterranean (centuries 12th-14th)
Applicant Bacci Michele
Number 173045
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Domaine Histoire de l'art et Archéologie Département des sciences historiques Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Visual arts and Art history
Start/End 01.06.2017 - 31.05.2021
Approved amount 1'059'212.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Visual arts and Art history
General history (without pre-and early history)

Keywords (8)

Medieval History; Medieval Art; Representation of Power; Kingship; Medieval Mediterranean; Royal Portrait; Royal Iconography; King's Body

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La gestion de la visibilité de son propre corps à l’intérieur de la société (sa manifestation publique) est un élément de grande importance pour chaque personne qui détient le pouvoir. Si elle peut parfois s’exprimer sous une forme directe (à travers la participation royale aux cérémonies publiques et aux rituels), il est aussi possible qu’elle se manifeste de manière indirecte, c’est-à-dire par toute une série de représentations symboliques, allégoriques et fictives du souverain. Entre ces dernières, nous pouvons certainement inclure la représentation royale, dans la mesure où elle représente un remplaçant du monarque capable de marquer l’espace, légitimer le pouvoir et jouer le rôle de médiateur entre le souverain et ses sujets afin de consolider l’union avec la couronne. Autrement dit, à travers sa capacité intrinsèque de persuader, convaincre, attraire et coopter de manière indirecte, elle constitue un élément fondamental du pouvoir.
Lay summary

Sujet et objectif

Pendant les dernières années, un débat scientifique animé relatif à la fonction que l’on peut attribuer aux représentations royales dans la société médiévale a pris forme, en mettant en discussion, dans certains cas, des acquisitions historiographiques précédentes, qui étaient désormais considérées en tant qu’indiscutablement acquises. Ce projet vise à revitaliser le débat traditionnel sur le portrait royal et sa fonction dans la société méditerranéenne (royaumes d’Aragon, Naples, Sicile, Chypre, Jérusalem et Cilicie arménienne) pendant le Moyen Âge tardif, en le voyant ainsi sous une lumière nouvelle, à savoir en l’analysant en tant que partie intégrante d’un contexte bien plus ample de mise-en-scène de la part du souverain de son propre corps, c’est-à-dire en accordant une attention majeure à la représentation royale en tant qu’outil de communication dans une stratégie communicative générale et en examinant les différentes interactions et les conditionnements réciproques qui s’activèrent entre la manifestation publique du corps royal et sa représentation iconographique.

 

Contexte socio-scientifique

À travers une approche comparative et par une confrontation, pour ainsi dire, « dynamique » entre les sources visuelles et celles matérielles et textuelles, le projet vise à replacer la production artistique à l’intérieur de la globalité de son contexte de réalisation, de sa fonction et de sa réception. Cela permettra de rejoindre une meilleure compréhension de l’utilisation de l’image royale en tant que moyen d’évocation symbolique du corps du souverain et de ce dernier comme objet iconique dans les sociétés de la Méditerranée au Moyen Âge tardif.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.04.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
167006 The Spectacle of the Flesh. Iconic Living Bodies in Late Antiquity and Beyond 01.05.2016 Scientific Conferences

Abstract

If sociology has highlighted how the leader’s body performs a fundamental stabilizing function within the complex political and social order characteristic of the relationship between the group and its head, making the very formation of the group somehow possible, it is easy to understand how for the holder of power managing the visibility of his body within society (its public manifestation) is an element of utmost importance. While at times it may be expressed in a direct form (through real participation in public ceremonies and rituals), at others it can be manifested in an indirect way: namely through a series of symbolic, allegorical and fictitious depictions of the ruler. Royal bodily representation can fit among these perfectly since, from the viewpoint of historical, historical-artistic, anthropological and semiotic investigation, it represents a substitute for the monarch which can mark out space, legitimize power and mediate between sovereign and subjects in order to consolidate the union under the crown. In other words, owing to its intrinsic capacity to indirectly persuade, convince, attract and co-opt, this representation constitutes a fundamental element of power.An animated scientific debate has been sparked in recent years (especially in the German sphere and in terms of historiographical research) in connection with the function that can be attributed to representation of the king within medieval society, in some cases calling into question what had previously been deemed to be indisputably written into the historiography. The project ‘Royal Epiphanies. The King’s Body as Image and Its Mise-en-scène in the Medieval Mediterranean (12th-14th centuries)’ sets out to revive the traditional debate on royal portraiture and its function within Mediterranean society during the mid and late Middle Ages by examining it from an absolutely innovative point of view, namely by analysing it as an integral part of a much wider context of the sovereign’s mise-en-scène of his body. In other words, the aim is to place greater attention on royal bodily representation as a means of communication within a general communication strategy and to study how the public rendering of the royal body and its iconographic representation interact and condition each other.By concentrating on the specific contexts of six kingdoms which cover the whole Mediterranean area from west to east (Aragon, Naples, Sicily, Cyprus, Jerusalem and Armenian Cilicia), the objective is to answer the following questions in particular: how much and how did the king show himself to his subjects? In what forms? Where? When? To whom? For what ends and for what reasons? How much was his image influenced and, in turn, did it influence the way in which the sovereign presented himself to the public? For the Middle Ages, can we speak of the artistic image as a surrogate of the king’s body able to mediate his presence? Did it have a more juridical, eulogistic/celebrative, political/propagandistic or religious/devotional function?Through a typically comparative approach and by making a so-to-speak dynamic comparison between the visual and the material and textual sources, the project sets out to connect the artistic product with the overall context of its creation, function and reception. All of this will enable a better understanding of how the royal image was used as a means of symbolically presenting the sovereign’s bodily figure within society, and ascertain how he could have potentially used his iconographic representation as a political tool and means of power. Hence, in these terms, there is no doubt as to the utility and necessity of this type of study by art historians.
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