marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Splendor at Court

Splendor at Court by Roy Strong

Rennaissance pomp and pageantry!  All over the place!  England, Italy, Austria, France. . .

The careful and wilful resurrection of classical motifs.  The vast symbolic apparteus, such as the impressa, and the imagery, such as a helmet with bees building a hive in it, which means peace -- very recondite, and Ben Jonson explicitly says that the sharp and learned appreciate it, and the rest get to admire it.

The marked increase in control.  Such as the symbolic fights, which got a particular boost from the death of Henry II in a tilt, supposed to be harmless.  The shift to staging them indoors.  And the addition of scenery with perspective, no less.  It was also an era of massive improvements in scenery, so you could have a goddess descending in a cloud-borne chariot, and in the later part of the era actually have the cloud vanish.  The introduction of ballet

But the fights had to be controlled also because the king of course had to win.  Or perhaps Queen Elizabeth would, by pure virtue, pass through an enchantment and so rescue all the knights and ladies held prisoner in a castle.  A deeply romantic genre, taking all the tropes of chivalric romance to stage rescues from enchantment with magical swords.

And if the sovereign was not actually an actor in it, you could count on a prince or princess.

Entries into cities -- whether your own city, as a visitor, or as part of an arranged marriage.  And the differences between the regions.  The de Medicis, for instance, were really big on making themselves look of long descent and establishment.  The Holy Roman Empire emphasized peace.  Charles I had masques where Heaven was reforming itself to emulate Charles's reign:  Jupiter and Venus had returned to their spouses, Cupid had to put on clothes, gods could not keep pages or gentlemen of chamber unless they were 25 and had good beards. . . .

One does, however, wonder what would be staged in a world where enchanted castles and magical swords were part of the every day business of life.
Tags: history reviews: 15th-18th centuries, world-building: courtesy, world-building: enchantment, world-building: festivities, world-building: magic (objects), world-building: royalty

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