Monarchical Successions and the Political Culture of 19th-Century Europe

Conference | 30-31 August 2013, St Andrews

This conference focused on the political roles played by heirs to the throne within their respective dynastic systems across a largely monarchical Europe.

Hereditary rule meant that heirs to the throne were a crucial component of monarchical systems. At every point in the nineteenth century, millions of Europeans knew with a high degree of certainty the identity of the next holder of the most exalted office in the land. While heirs anticipated the end of the current reign, they embodied both dynastic continuity and the inevitability of change at the very apex of the system. Depending on the specific political, cultural and constitutional contexts as well as on the individuals involved, crown princes and princesses could either consolidate or undermine the status quo, play momentous or insignificant roles, appear high-profile or almost imperceptible, embody change or continuity.

The study of heirs will offer new insights into the politics and political cultures of Europe during the Long Nineteenth Century. This conference aims at investigating comparatively the contribution made by heirs to the thrones to the functioning and malfunctioning, rigidity and suppleness, successes and shortcomings of the constitutional monarchies whose future pivoted on them. Heirs will be used as prisms to explore Europe’s monarchical systems, the institutions, agencies, groups and individuals engaged in either sustaining or challenging them. The conference explores the societies and cultures within which heirs existed and operated, in which they were instrumentalised and commemorated.

For further information see conference programme and the AHRC sponsored project ‘Heirs to the Throne in the Constitutional Monarchies of Nineteenth-Century Europe (1815-1914)