Women at the Early Modern Swedish Court
Women at the Early Modern Swedish Court
Power, Risk, and Opportunity
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
Table of Contents
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List of Illustrations
List of tables and genealogical charts
Note on Names
Dramatis Personae
Genealogical Charts

Growing interest
Sources and the challenge of invisibility

1 Rituals of royal compassion
- Who and when
- Institutionalisation
- The quality of compassion
2 Why be at court? The example of the Königsmarcks
3 All the queen's women
- The creation of the Swedish court in the sixteenth century
- The women in service
- The recruitment process
- Pay and perquisites
- Marriage
- The appeal of the court
4 Noblewomen crossing borders
- Change over time
- Princely women visiting and residing in Sweden
- Swedish noblewomen in service abroad
- Clean break or gradual erosion?
- From melting pot to enclave
5 Servants of power
- Everyday power-and more
- Maids of honour as power brokers
- Everyday power-and high politics
- Power struggles on several levels
- Emerentia Düben
- Juliana Schierberg
- Anna Catharina Bärfelt
- Measures of success
6 Left behind
- Reputational damage
- Beata Sophia Horn, trapped at court
- Ageing and unmarried
7 Dirt among the apples: Hierarchy and gender at court
- A Swedish Table of Ranks
- Formal hierarchies
- Royal decisiveness
- Increasing formality
- Marks of status
- Negotiating the hierarchy
8 A small circle with wide horizons
- Living under surveillance
- Socialised into a group
- Widening interests and attitudes
- Changes in appearance
- The best school in the world
9 Fumbling for power: Being a royal mistress
- A golden age of adultery
- A passing fancy
- An emotional anchor
- A lesser sort of marriage
- The extraordinary success of Karin Månsdotter
- Pimped to a King
- The role of a royal mistress

10 The performance of a lifetime: Being queen consort
- Being foreign
- Being sociable
- Being self-assured
- Being a success
11 The winding road: Royal marriage negotiations
- A queen's worth
- How to pick a marriage partner
- Successful failures
12 The broken mirror: Gender differences in the system of royal apartments
- Mirroring apartments
- Royal apartments outside Stockholm
- Renovations
- A mirror cracked
- In-built gender
13 Death and beyond
- A Swedish Artemisia manquée
- Commemorating a dynasty
- Dynastic memory
14 The court as substitute family
- The Princess, her sister, and the need for trust
- A court of her own
- Court rather than family
- A long-lost sister
- The entertaining princess
15 Epilogue
Court positions
The calendar
Manuscript sources
Published sources
Secondary publications
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Reviews and Features

"The study displays a vast knowledge of the intricate early modern courtly life and showcases much material that previously has been overlooked. Women at the Early Modern Swedish Court: Power, Risk, and Opportunity paints a fascinating picture of early modern Swedish court through the lens of women’s agency, voices, and challenges."
- Johanna Vernqvist, Linköping University, Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 44.2 (Spring 2021)

Fabian Persson

Women at the Early Modern Swedish Court

Power, Risk, and Opportunity

What was possible for a woman to achieve at an early modern court? By analysing the experiences of a wide range of women at the court of Sweden, this book demonstrates the opportunities open to women who served at, and interacted with, the court; the complexities of women's agency in a court society; and, ultimately, the precariousness of power. In doing so, it provides an institutional context to women's lives at court, charting the full extent of the rewards that they might obtain, alongside the social and institutional constrictions that they faced. Its longue durée approach, moreover, clarifies how certain periods, such as that of the queens regnant, brought new possibilities. Based on an extensive array of Swedish and international primary sources, including correspondence, financial records and diplomatic reports, it also takes into account the materialities used to create hierarchies and ceremonies, such as physical structures and spaces within the court. Comprehensive in its scope, the book is divided into three parts, which focus respectively on outsiders at court, insiders, and members of the royal family.

Fabian Persson

Fabian Persson is a Lecturer in History at Linnaeus University in Sweden and currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford. He is a specialist on the history of the early modern court and also writes on patronage, corruption, élites, aristocratic marriage and duelling.