Court History

Logo of Society for Court Studies

The Society for Court Studies (www.courtstudies.org) was founded in London in 1995 by myself with John Adamson, Pauline Croft, Philip Mansel, the late Robert Oresko, and David Starkey, as a forum for scholars, writers, curators and members of the public to exchange knowledge and ideas about all aspects of royal and princely courts. The Society is interdisciplinary; it covers music, literature and gender studies as well as political, social, intellectual, art, architectural and landscape history.

The Society for Court Studies exists to promote the study and understanding of European and non-European courts. From the Pharaohs to the twentieth century, royal courts dominated politics, society and the arts. Courts were keys to power, engines of culture, and instruments of state formation. They were the principal institutions where women could be as powerful as men. To this day, many aspects of parliaments, democracies and republics can be explained in terms of court politics.

The Society for Court Studies is international and is now a member of the Court Studies Forum, linking it with similar organisations in Europe, including the Centre de Recherche of the Château de Versailles, the Centro Studi Europa delle Corti in Ferrara and La Corte en Europa Institute of the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid.

The Society’s monthly seminars present the latest research in court studies, and provide a platform for discussion and debate. Seminars are held on weekday evenings throughout the academic year at NYU London, 6 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3RA.

The Society organises frequent conferences on particular aspects of court life and culture. Often held at locations of historical interest, the Society’s conferences combine papers from established authorities with contributions from younger students. The conference programme is advertised at www.courtstudies.org.

Court Studies, Vol 16 No 1The Society’s journal The Court Historian (edited by Philip Mansel and Jonathan Spangler) is published biannually and sent to all members. Now in its sixteenth year, it is the leading periodical for court studies. It presents new work by experts exploring all dimensions of court life, from palaces, gardens and porcelain to dress, dining and chamber animals.

Much of my own work has been on court history in one way or another. My books section shows what I have been writing in this area. I am still on the Committee of the Society and was from 2003 until 2012 its President.