Conception, Childbirth, and Motherhood: Performing a Royal Family
By analysis of conception, childbirth, and motherhood, this chapter reconstructs the dynastic and family networks at the courts of the Jagiellonians and the Valois. It uses conception, childbirth, and motherhood for a cross-dynastic exploration of how a royal family was both performed in public for dynastic purposes and perpetuated in private by affectionate rituals and exchanges. Family served to build dynastic identity, propaganda, and political programme, but the joys and burdens of royal parenthood were often private. The chapter explains how royal ceremonies associated with children, both biological and bestowed, were used to stage dynastic relationships, while challenging our understanding of royal families as predominantly staged by demonstrating that some interactions and networks were personal and private. At the heart of a royal dynasty there was always a family, the dynamic of which, dependant on personal relationships and animosities, was ultimately responsible for the dynasty’s success or failure.