Aulica Coll. No 3 - Les funérailles princières en Europe, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle, vol. 1

Publication resulting from the research programme “Dynasties, Nations, Europe, Princes’ Funerals and the Collective Memory from 16th to 18th century” led by the Research Centre.

Les funérailles princières en Europe, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle : le grand théâtre de la mort (publication following the international symposium held on 14, 15 and 16 October 2007 in Krakow), directed by Juliusz A. Chrościcki, Mark Hengerer, Gérard Sabatier, joint publication Centre de recherche du château de Versailles / Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme (“Aulica” collection), May 2012, 17 x 24 cm, 15 colour plates, family trees, maps, index, €45 (ISBN: 13 978-2-7351-1426-9).

For the last thirty years, historians have been exploring the issue of the “birth of the modern European State” from the 16th to the 18th centuries, and its corollary, the central role of the princely courts in the process. The aim of this book is to examine the part played by the funeral strategies of sovereign families. Unlike works to date that focus on royal funeral ceremonies as interpreted through the history of art, this book approaches them both in terms of royal strategies, as an internal ritual in the transfer of power, and in terms of dynastic relations, taking account of public opinion at home and an emerging European opinion.

The first of the three volumes devoted to royal funeral ceremonies concentrates on how these were orchestrated in relation to the institutions themselves, the circumstances, specific traditions, the internal balance of power, and how they became part of the European political perspective.

See the presentation of the other volumes:

Download the cumulative bibliography of the three volumes (in French):



In the princely Europe of modern times, the funeral ceremonies of sovereigns and their families were sumptuous affairs, the fundamental nature of which historians have only very recently highlighted. This work brings together for the first time studies of princely funeral rituals spanning Christian Europe from the 16th to the 18th centuries, thus opening the way for productive comparisons. Since the 16th century, the funeral rituals of the court had involved three stages (exhibiting the body, cortège to the tomb, religious service and burial) that varied according to the specific institutions and traditions of each country, the political and religious circumstances and the internal balance of power and status within a European political context. In the 17th century this process was overturned: the Renaissance model favouring the exhibition of the body and the cortège was considered to be classically inspired, and so was abandoned in favour of lavish Baroque funeral ceremonies inside the church where the bier - or castrum doloris – would, from then on, occupy a central place. This emphasis on staging and spectacle was closely linked to the court taking control of the funeral ceremony, and transforming this originally political and dynastic event into a societal event.

This volume is the first of a trilogy on princely funerals in Europe, from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The second volume will deal with ephemeral pomp and ceremony, and tombs; the third will look at commemorations and public perception of the death of a king.

To order the book

Éditions de la MSH

Book reviews

Read Bertrand Marceau’s review published online 1 December 2017 on Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 180 (in French).

Read Claude Michaud’s review published in the Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 4/2017 (n°64-4) (subscription or pay-per-view access on (in French).

Read Niels F. May’s review published in the review XVIIe siècle 2015/1 (No. 266) (in French).

Read Stanis Perez’s review published online 1 May 2013 on Cour de France (in French).

Read Anne-Sophie Bessero’s review published online 29 March 2013 on Histara

A review by Pierre-Yves Baudot has been published in the Revue française de science politique, Vol. 65, 2015/2 , April 2015, Presses de Sciences Po (subscription or pay-per-view access on (in French).

Round table discussion

Watch the video of the round table discussion of September 20th 2012 (in french):

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