Spectacular Orientalism in Early Modern Europe (1529-1683) – Abstracts & Biographies

Abstracts are in alphabetical order. For day and times, please see the Programme

NEW! Brepols, publisher of the European Festival Studies book series, offers a discount on some if its titles on the occasion of the Spectacular Orientalism conference!

Marie-Claude Canova Green (Chair) is Professor of French at Goldsmiths. She has research interests in early modern European court entertainments and other forms of large-scale public spectacles, and has published widely on the topic. In particular she has edited a four-volume collection of French seventeenth-century ballet libretti, as well as two volumes of collected essays on early modern festivals, Writing Royal Entries in Early Modern Europe (with Jean Andrews) and The Wedding of Charles and Henrietta Maria. Celebrations and Controversy (1615) (with Sara Wolfson). She has also published monographs on La Politique spectacle au grand siècle. Les rapports franco-anglais; on Faire le roi: L’autre corps de Louis XIII; on Molière’s comédies-ballets and more generally on French drama across the centuries.


In 1627, Vincent Borée (15..-16..), a man of law, very likely attached to the court of Savoy, published a few theatre plays in a volume entitled Les Princes victorieux, tragedies francoises. Among these tragedies is one with a Turkish subject, very peculiar for the time: Rhodes subjuguée par Amé quatriesme comte de savoye, sur Othoman premier empereur des Turcs. Inspired by a military expedition led in the Middle Ages by a count of Savoy to relieve Rhodes, then besieged by the Turks, the play was one of the few to portray an armed confrontation between East and West on the French professional stage. Contrary to most of the Turkish subjects of the time, Borée’s plot was never to be treated again. It is noteworthy that, from the Renaissance on, most Turkish plots were built on a few dynastic disputes taken from the very recent history of the Ottoman Empire and dramatized by various authors. The most outstanding of all were the quarrels surrounding the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent that gave birth to the first “Oriental tragedy” of the tradition (La Soltane, Bounin, 1561), which later flourished during the 1630s and 40s thanks to authors including Mairet (Solyman ou la mort de Mustapha, 1639), Scudéry (Ibrahim ou l’illustre bassa, 1641), Vion d’Alibray (Le Soliman, 1637), Demares (Roxelane, 1643), and Desfontaines (Perside ou la suite d’Ibrahim bassa, 1644). Borée’s play is of particular interest because of its sources and the context of its creation. At first glance, the play appears to be historical – but is this really so? Can we trace the roots of inspiration for Rhodes subjuguée? How did the author manage to build his plot between celebration of his patrons and poieisis? The highly epic and spectacular events depicted undoubtedly had a laudatory value for the court of Savoy. But was this work only an occasional play by a commissioned author? Published after the intensification of the religious wars in France and the resuming hostilities in northern Italy had dissuaded Christian rulers from a new Crusade, was the play a swan song of the dying Crusade spirit? Was it, on the contrary, unique among the period’s dramatic works in terms of literary motifs, background, and structures? My presentation will address these questions in order to reveal the remarkable nature of this exceptional literary work dedicated to the House of Savoy.

David Chataignier is universitetslärare (lecturer) at Åbo Akademi (Åbo, Finland) where he teaches French literature and language. His research focuses on representations of the Ottoman Empire in 16th- and 17th-century French literature, the early modern press (particularly the rhymed newssheets of Loret, Robinet, and Mayolas), and galanterie.  In 2012–13, he was assistant research editor at the Voltaire Foundation (University of Oxford) where he contributed to the critical edition of Voltaire’s works with the team led by Nicholas Cronk. In 2006–10, he took part in the Molière21 project (Université Paris–Sorbonne), which led to the development of the database www.moliere.huma-num.fr and the publication of Molière’s Œuvres complètes in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade series (Gallimard, 2010) by Georges Forestier and Claude Bourqui. His most recent publications include: “Süleyman ağa’s diplomatic visit to France as portrayed in the Gazette and in rhymed newssheets (1669–1670): Depiction and fiction”, forthcoming in Culture and Diplomacy: Ambassadors as cultural actors in Ottoman-European relations (Symposia 2013–15), ed. Reinhard Eisendle, Suna Suner, and Hans Ernst Weidinger. Vol. 6 of Ottoman Empire and European theatre. Vienna: Hollitzer Verlag, 2022; “Questions regarding the ‘Parade of the nations’ in the Carrousel de Monseigneur le Dauphin (1662).” In Gluck and the Turkish subject in ballet and dance, ed. Michael Hüttler and Hans Ernst Weidinger, Vol. 5 of Ottoman Empire and European theatre. Vienna: Hollitzer Verlag, 2019, 159–78; “Les Spectacles et la vie de cour selon les gazetiers (1659–1674)”, (with Georges Forestier, & Claude Bourqui),  Base de données Moliere21, 2016; and “Querelle Guillet-Spon.” Banque de données AGON, 2016.



The action of Frégonde,1 a tragicomedy by Alexandre Hardy (1626), is apparently focused on a love triangle and sentimental topics. In Naples, in the XVth century, a handsome gentlewoman is secretly attracted by her husband’s friend. However, at the very middle of the play (III, 3), the initial and private plot is unexpectedly interrupted by a short and remarkable scene. Turkish warriors, who were never mentioned before, suddenly appear in another part of the stage. Though they are supposed to speak from a remote place, probably their native land,2 their apparition foreshadows events on a greater scale.

We will examine several aspects of that scene, which is unique in the play.

From a merely logical point of view, its insertion in the organisation of the play might seem problematic, but it is plainly justified by the spectacular effects and the surprise it creates. The field of focalisation is enlarged. The episode points out concrete characteristics of the foreign warriors, who probably wear exotic clothing. Speaking in a common voice, like a Greek chorus, they are galvanised by the speech of an ambitious leader, Sinan Pacha,3 (the choryphaeus), who, following in the footsteps of the Romans, aims at invading Calabria and other countries afterwards. In striking contrast to the small group of the main characters, only affected by inner conflicts between love, honour and virtue, the warmonger Turkish troop is animated by a collective and expansionist project, proclaimed with a martial rhetoric. Dramatic irony is obvious, so far as the audience is aware that the main characters, as well as Calabria, may be in danger.

We will point out the fact that the image of the Turkish warriors in Frégonde is composite. It combines strength and craftiness. The way Muslim troop incarnates otherness, if not very original, conveys some ambiguity. By any standard, the « Infidèles » are brave soldiers, who despise death and seek glory, but all these qualities are in the service of an illegitimate cause and immoderate ambitions. So, Sinan and his men are not only outsiders, they also are, in some way, outlaws. Their intervention is a threat to peace and Christianity.

In fact, though Turkish soldiers never reappear on the stage, they have a determining influence in the second part of the play. Do they represent Fate, or Fortune? In any case, if the attack that they planned results in a failure on public and military levels, in the private action the weight of their intervention may be regarded as decisive, for it indirectly leads to the outcome of the plot.


  1. Alexandre Hardy, Frégonde, tragi-comédie, établissement du texte, introduction et notes par Catherine Dumas, in : Alexandre Hardy, Théâtre Complet, IV, Fabien Cavaillé (dir.), Bibliothèque du Théâtre français, Charles Mazouer (dir.), Classiques Garnier, 2019, p. 371-477. – The play is adaptated from a short story, La resistencia premiada, by the Spanish writer Diego Ágreda y Vargas.
  2. In the years 1625-1630 French stage might represent distant places
  3. The name is not invented. Sinan Pacha was an admiral in the Ottoman Empire, but he lived in the XVIth century (1506-1596).

Catherine Dumas has been Maître de conférences in comparative Literature in Lille University for 13 years. Her research field mainly concerns the links between Spanish Golden Age comedia and French drama in the XVIIth century. After her book Du gracioso au valet comique. Contribution à la comparaison de deux dramaturgies (1610-1660) (2004), she edited plays by Alexandre Hardy, Rotrou and Thomas Corneille. Her last publication was Le Théâtre Italien de Gherardi, Classiques Garnier, March 2022.



Voltaire and other later writers considered the victory of the Holy League over the Ottoman fleet in the Gulf of Lepanto in 1571 to be illusory, an empty achievement that led nowhere. Yet for many contemporaries, faced with the reality of Turkish territorial ambition which had been so evident since the establishment of the Caliphate by Sultan Selim I, it seemed to mark the end of a period of growing uncertainty and even inferiority. At the time, the psychological impact of Lepanto was undeniable; throughout the Christian world the victory was proclaimed not only as a turning point in the fortunes of Europe, but also as a miracle, a sure sign of divine favour. Nowhere was this felt more strongly than in in Venice. There the public celebrations, focused upon processional forms which placed considerable emphasis upon the theme of the Venetians as the chosen people, were accompanied by an intensified outpouring of the hostility towards the Turkish residents of the city which had been growing since the beginning of the War of Cyprus. The twin themes of Christian exceptionalism and Muslim decadence were fully exploited in the spring of 1572 when an elaborately-costumed mascherata featuring propagandistic displays accompanied by music was organised by the Venetian merchants. This was not only a form of entertainment, but also an instrument of public order designed to consolidate a sense of social cohesion. In this process the image of the defeated and now vilified Turk was deployed not only to satisfy popular attitudes, but also to obscure official policy as the Venetians negotiated a separate peace treaty with the Ottomans, to the fury of the other members of the Holy League.

Iain Fenlon is Emeritus Professor of Historical Musicology in the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of King’s College. Most of his writing has been concerned with the social and cultural history of music in early modern Italy and Spain. His books include a two-volume study, Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua (Cambridge, 1980), a monograph on the early Italian madrigal (with James Haar) (Cambridge, 1988), and Music, Print and Culture in Early Sixteenth-Century Italy (The Panizzi Lectures for 1994, British Library, 1995), and Music and Culture in Late Renaissance Italy (Oxford, 2002). He is the founding editor of the journal Early Music History. In the course of his career, he has been affiliated to a number of other academic institutions including Harvard University, All Souls College Oxford, New College Oxford, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the University of Bologna, and the universities of Zürich, Heidelberg, and Regensburg. His most recent books are The Ceremonial City: History, Memory and Myth in Renaissance Venice (Yale, 2007), Piazza San Marco (Harvard, 2009), Heinrich Glarean’s Books: The Intellectual World of a Sixteenth-Century Musical Humanist (Cambridge, 2013- co-edited with Inga Mai Groote), and The Cambridge History of Sixteenth-Century Music (Cambridge, 2019, co-edited with Richard Wistreich). Iain Fenlon is a Fellow of both the Royal Historical Society, and the Society of Antiquaries of London.



Fulke Greville’s closet drama The Tragedy of Mustapha focuses on human’s “outward wayes” (1.1.33), appearances, and the sources of political authority. The image of the Turk as “the present Terror of the World” (Knolles, 1603, p. 1), provided the Renaissance thinkers, playwrights, and historians with rich material to contemplate on the question of sovereignty. Analyzing Greville’s representation of the Ottoman Turk not as a caricature of the barbarous Oriental but as a critical tool, this paper aims to understand the dynamics of staging the (in)stability of power. The play’s central character, Sultan Suleyman, was the Ottoman Empire’s longest-reigning monarch, and accounts of his order to strangle his eldest son were numerous by the time Greville composed the earliest version of his tragedy.

Literature on Mustapha primarily focuses on the play’s political or allegorical aspects, and whether the play represents a nuanced vision of the Ottoman Turks or provides a set of morally unambiguous characters. By introducing Fulke Greville’s poems on monarchy in the discussion of political authority in Mustapha, I contend that the images of Islam and Muslim people in the play did not present an allegory of the English court. Instead, when read in the context of Greville’s other writings, Mustapha presents a coherent political philosophy discussing the human condition and human’s fallen nature. The play is part of a larger and a cosmic concern in Greville’s writing that is how human’s “inward evils” (1939, Sonnet 110, l. 14) diffuse into public life and institutions. The play suggests that political power is neither naturally nor divinely ordained. Rather, it is a creation of human imagination and a by-product of human’s moral depravity.

Greville, F. (1939). Cælica. In F. Greville, & G. Bullough (Ed.), Poems and dramas of Fulke Greville (Vol. I, pp. 73-153). London: Oliver and Boyd.
Greville, F. (1939). Mustapha. In F. Greville, & G. Bullough (Ed.), Poems and dramas of Fulke Greville (Vol. II, pp. 63-137). London: Oliver and Boyd.
Knolles, R. (1603). The generall historie of the Turkes from the first beginning of that nation to the rising of the Othoman familie. London: Adam Islip. Retrieved from http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A04911.0001.001

Murat Kabak is a research and teaching assistant at the Department of English Language and Literature, Istanbul Kültür University. He received his M.A. degree in English Literature at Boğaziçi University. He is currently a PhD candidate in the English Literature program at the Institute for Graduate Studies in Social Sciences, Boğaziçi University. His most recent publications include a book chapter titled “The Post-Apocalyptic Aesthetics of Emily St. John Mandel” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2022), and two articles in international, indexed journals: “Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake as a Critique of Technological Utopianism” (June 2021), and “On the Utopian Possibility in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed” (May 2021). His research interests include contemporary fiction, critical theory and philosophy, and film studies.



When Japanese members of the Tenshō embassy (1582-1590) visited the city of Coimbra in Portugal, students of the local Jesuit college presented them with a marvelous spectacle. The envoys came back to Japan and later the Christian mission in Japan failed. But as it turned out, Japanese topics were to stay on the Jesuit stage for many years to come.

All around Europe, playwrights from the Society of Jesus chose Japan as the setting for their dramas. The number of Asian elements in plots varied significantly from pretext background to detailed rendition but it was always an occasion for the broader audience to look for information about the faraway land. Especially, that the staging was often a public-school event, thus gathered parents, local nobility, clergy, and other benefactors. The less-known scenery made the Jesuit message of piety more attractive for spectators while at the same time proving the order’s worldwide presence. Students involved in the preparations as actors were mostly supposed to use this occasion to practice their Latin and rhetorical skills. But not only. The theatrical element holds a strong position in Ignatian spirituality for a reason. Temporary and controlled reenactment of different characters was an aid in a better understanding of Christian morality. Nevertheless, it meant that students played Catholic martyrs as well as Buddhist priests.

The paper will present the phenomenon on the example of “Sanctus Franciscus Xaverius Indiae et Iaponiae Apostolus” by J.B. Dornsberger. This play was staged in 1677 on the occasion of the opening of the Jesuit church in Lucerne, Switzerland. It is currently preserved in two manuscripts kept in Zentral-und Hochschulbibliothek in Lucerne (ZHB, Sondersammlung Tresor Kb., Pp 74 4°) and in the monastery of Engelberg (Cod. 343).

Maria Maciejewska is a PhD student at the University of Innsbruck. She holds an MA degree in classical philology and a BA degree in inter-domain studies in the humanities and social sciences from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. From 2017 to 2019, Maria was a researcher at Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies in Innsbruck. She is now based in Rome where she researches in the ARSI and in the Peter-Hans Kolvenbach Library. Maria’s research to date has been focused on the Jesuit missions in Japan and China as well as on Jesuit theatre.



In this unfinished paper Margaret M. McGowan discusses how dance masters and choreographers reacted to changes in society around them, such as the discovery (by Europeans) of new and exotic lands. She examines how choreographers expressed new, strange and exotic visions of their danced spectacles by expanding the possibilities of dance and the subjects it presented, as well as by extending the technical abilities of each dancer, in order that new steps, new postures, and new gestures became part of each dancer’s repertoire. She also considers how costume designers, desirous to cater to an undying fascination with the Orient, in particular the Ottoman Empire, generally drew their inspiration from the many costume books published in Europe during the Renaissance to arouse wonder, admiration and amusement in the audience.

The paper will be read by Marie-Claude Canova-Green. 

Margaret M. McGowan † (1931-2022) CBE, FBA, was Research Professor at the University of Sussex, and a major scholar of the intellectual, cultural and artistic concerns of early modern Europe, and of the interdisciplinary study of early modern festivals and dance. She co-founded the Society for European Festivals Research and was co-general-editor, together with Margaret Shewring and Marie-Claude Canova-Green, of the ‘European Festival Studies, 1450–1700’ book series (Brepols). Among her publications: l’Art du Ballet de cour, 1581-1643 (Paris: Centre national de recherche scientifique, 1963; re-ed. 1968); Montaigne’s Deceits (London: University of London Press, 1974); Ideal Forms in the Age of Ronsard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); The Vision of Rome in Late Renaissance France (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002); Dance in the Renaissance (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008); Dynastic Mariages 1612/1615 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013) and Festival and Violence: Princely Entries in the Context of War, 1480-1635 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2019); and with Margaret Shewring: Charles V, Prince Philip and the Politics of Succession: Festivities in Hainault and Mons, 1549 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2020). She gave the Leopold Delisle lectures in 2012, was awarded the Wolfson Prize in 2008, and the CBE in 1998, and became Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2020.



The construction of identity, whether it is self-or-externally imposed, has always been in dialogue with the construction of the “other” or “otherness.”  Therefore, scholarly conversations surrounding Orientalism have assisted the analysis of identity formation.

Chronicles have contributed to the early modern construction of identity and the “other.” Not only do they serve as “storehouses” of historical knowledge, but there are many Orientalist traits that can be identified throughout this literature. I will examine a selection of Spanish chronicles to analyse how they depicted the Ottomans, and then I will compare those images with a selection of English chronicles and how they portrayed the Spanish. Hence, the focus of this talk will primarily be on the Spanish and English chronicles commissioned, composed, and published during the long sixteenth century (1450-1650).

Spanish chroniclers frequently employed dehumanizing vocabulary to portray the Ottoman Turks as a menace, a terror, or the “other.” While the Spanish used chronicles to simultaneously dehumanize the Ottoman Turks and construct an ideal, imperialistic, and Christian image of a European empire, England challenged that notion. England deployed chronicles not to pit the Ottomans against the Spaniards but instead “othered” them both. With language throughout English chronicles that mirrored that of Spanish chronicles, we discover that there was an interaction between the two regions as they vied for supremacy, using literature as one tool through which to express cultural, religious, and political claims. England operated under the same mentality as the Spanish when dehumanizing the Ottoman Turks.

By comparing chronicles from these two regions, we discover that English chronicles did use similar, if not identical, language as Spanish chroniclers employed in writing about the Ottomans. English chroniclers, however, used language to Orientalize Spain and not only marginalize Spain within Europe but also delegitimize the Spanish Empire’s imperialistic territorial acquisitions.

Oswin Humberto Orellana is a second-year Ph.D. History student attending the University of California, San Diego. His research revolves around the early modern European period, with a specific focus on the Spanish empire during the 15th and 16th centuries. He is interested in the construction of an early modern Spanish identity during this period, whether this identity is self-imposed or is being perpetuated onto themselves by their enemies. So far, Oswin’s projects have attempted to highlight how the territorial enemies of the Spanish continuously used different mediums to express their interpretation of a Spanish identity while subsequently being in constant interaction with the Spanish’s interpretation of their own identity.



Early Stuart performance culture imagined ‘Turks’ in word and non-verbal sound, movement, costume, and physical features. This paper traces their prolific presence in civic entertainments and courtly occasions, ranging from masques such as Britannia Triumphans (1638) to military exercises such as William Barriffe’s Mars His Triumph (1639), as well as royal spa visits, and musical theatre in early 17th-century England.

Barbara Ravelhofer is Professor of English Literature at Durham. She specialises in dance and illusionistic theatre, and currently directs an AHRC-funded legacy project on dramatic traditions in England’s North East. She has published on performance as intangible heritage, playwrights such as Shakespeare, Middleton and Shirley, and equestrian ballet. Her book The Early Stuart Masque: Dance, Costume, and Music (OUP 2006) studies various dramatic productions across England, France, Italy, and the Ottoman Empire.


The early modern Orientalism is an ambiguous and controversial term which is used here to mean the “luxury” in the making of an imaginary East by the Portuguese Monarchy. This focus of this paper is a comparative analysis of the visual and “ekphrastic” Orientalist representation of the Muslims at the Lisbon court, that was applied generally in the ephemeral decorations of the Portuguese Royal festival on the 16th and 18th centuries under the Habsburg and Braganza dynasties. It seems logical to investigate the vision of an orientalism “avant la lettre” in the Iberian Peninsula, the Portuguese Monarchy in particular, with a long history of coexistence with Muslim peoples – not only in the Mediterranean but also in Asia and Northeast Africa due to the commercial and political expansion to these territories.

The aim of this paper is to forge an original line of enquiry by exploring how the “visual” dimensions of these literary-visual artefacts reveal specific strategies to address and integrate an ‘implicit spectator’ the Portuguese court as a whole, ant to make a new collective self-image. In order to do this, we want to broaden the search to areas or genres not explored so far, such theatrical events, and performance art, where we intend to find new elements to add to the traditional Iberian narration about the East. The “longue durée” perspective opens new approaches to this phenomenon, especially if we consider the use of some elements of the “Iberian Islamic” material culture to represent the far away territories, creating a “hybrid” model to illustrate the Orient in context with an important Islamic past.

Iván Rega Castro is an Assistant Professor in Art History at the Universty of León (Universidad de León, Spain), and Member of the Institute of Humanism and the Classical Tradition (http://ihtc.unileon.es/). He received his PhD in Art History from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain). He went on to pursue postdoctoral research as a member of several research projects at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and the University of Lleida (Universitat de Lleida, Spain). He is currently leading a research project funded by the Ministry of Science of the Spanish government (PID2019-108262GA-I00): The making of the Islamic imaginary in Early Modern Iberian Peninsula and Ibero-American World. He has recently been visitor researcher in the Institute of Art History at the New University of Lisbon (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal), and the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (LAIC) at Columbia University (New York , USA), and, finally, he is a joint author of Imágenes del islam y fiesta pública en la corte portuguesa. De la Unión Ibérica al terremoto de Lisboa (Trea, 2021).\

Borja Franco Llopis is an Associate Professor at the Department of Art History in the UNED (Spain). His research is devoted to the visual and literary representation of the otherness in Southern Europe. He has been a visiting scholar in several prestigious institutions such as the School of History and Archaeology in Rome, the Istituto Storico per el Medievo (Rome), the Warburg Institute (London), Johns Hopkins University, University of California (Berkeley), Harvard University, Columbia University, Universidade Nova of Lisbon and NYU; and Visiting Professor at the University of Genoa. He is the PI of the research group “Before Orientalism. Images of the Muslim Other in Iberia (15-17th Centuries) and their Mediterranean connections” and working Group Leader of the Cost Action 18129: Islamic Legacy: Narratives East, West, South, North of the Mediterranean. He has recently published the monographs titled: Pintando al converso: la imagen del morisco en la peninsula ibérica (1492-1614) (Cátedra, 2019), and Etnicità e conversione. Immagini di moriscos nella cultural visuale dell’età moderna (Affinità Elettive, 2020)He has also coedited the book: Muslim and Jews made Visible in Christian Iberia and beyond (14-18th centuries) (Brill 2019).

Margaret Shewring (Chair) is Emeritus Reader in Theatre and Performance Studies, in the School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures, and Honorary Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick. She is co-general-editor of the ‘European Festival Studies 1450–1700’ Series (Brepols) and co-convenor of the Society for European Festivals Research (SEFR). Her research concerns places for festival occasions, performances and their audiences in the early modern period.



This paper focuses on the lavish banquet that was organised for Marie de Médicis, the exiled Queen Mother of France, on 1 September 1638 during her ceremonial entry into Amsterdam. Held at the East-India House (Oost-Indisch Huis), the headquarters of the Dutch East-India Company in the Netherlands, the banquet displayed for the first time in Europe an impressive array of spices and dishes from overseas territories, including China, Japan, Brazil, and the Maluku Islands. These territories were either important trading partners of the East-India Company (e.g. China and Japan) or had been violently colonised by the Dutch (e.g. Brazil and the Maluku Islands). Often quoted by Dutch historians in passing – rather than rigorously analysed – as a relatively unproblematic display of ‘exotic’ produce, this paper will study the banquet as a product of colonial violence that was meant to pass off as a harmless performance of orientalism.

By ‘orientalism’ I understand what Edward W. Said has called ‘a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient’ (2019 [1978], 3). It will be argued that the banquet was intended to put its primary spectator – Marie de Médicis – in the shoes of the Dutch coloniser or privateer and to allow her to experience the imperial successes of the Republic. For, the banquet was not meant to be consumed but invited De Médicis instead to marvel at her host’s colonial riches through visual and sensory stimuli. The paper will draw on Caspar Barleus’s official 1638 account of the Queen Mother’s entry, which narrates the banquet from De Médicis’s point of view, and the financial records of and correspondences between members of the East-India Company. The latter sources in particular reveal the extent to which the company was involved in staging the banquet to broadcast their colonial enterprises to an international audience of diplomats, entrepreneurs, merchants, and political leaders.

Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Penguin Books, 2019 [Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978]).

Bram van Leuveren is a Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Leiden University, The Netherlands. His/Their research is sponsored by the European Union and focuses on the diplomatic travels of British and French royals and their ambassadors into the Low Countries between 1577 and 1642. Bram completed a PhD thesis on the diplomatic reception of late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century French festivals in Europe at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Bram’s first monograph, entitled Early Modern Diplomacy and French Festival Culture, 1572-1615, is forthcoming with Brill. Furthermore, Bram is currently co-editing the volume Marginalized Voices and Figures in French Festival Culture, 1500-1800 with Alexander Robinson and Marc Jaffré. It will appear with Brepols in the ‘European Festivals Studies: 1450-1700’ series around Fall next year.




Register to attend

Back to the Conference’s main page