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Lecture | Research Seminar Europe 1000-1800

Not a normal job: the Emperor in Eurasian History

  • Dominic Lieven (Trinity College, Cambridge)
Friday 26 April 2019
Research Seminars Europe 1000-1800 academic year 2018-2019
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Prof. Dominic Lieven will give a lecture titled: “Not a Normal Job: the Emperor in Eurasian History”: "My talk is based on the first (and thus far only!) chapter of my forthcoming book on emperors and emperorship in Eurasia from their earliest origins down to the twentieth century. The topic is vast and I can only address some key points. The three main themes of my book are hereditary monarchy, the governance of empires and human beings in power. Though I make no attempt to categorise emperors according to psychological categories I do start by noting that the upbringing of monarchs and the context in which it often occurred would reduce a contemporary psychiatrist to despair. A key puzzle is why, despite this, so many emperors were relatively competent and effective. My book studies humans under extreme and extraordinary pressures. I start by looking at basic human needs and challenges (e.g. death, fear, sex, sociability etc), then at the human life cycle, asking in each case about their implications for humans who were also hereditary monarchs. I go on to look at leadership in general, at the peculiarities of hereditary monarchical leadership, and at the different facets of emperorship (priest-king, warrior, chief political officer, fount of justice, CEO, and dynast). Key issues addressed in my talk are educating heirs, courts and access to the monarch, patronage and clientelism, the role of women, marriage and succession. I attempt to illustrate generic aspects of emperorship, the influence of specific dynastic, cultural, religious and political systems, and the random impact of individual personality."

Dominic Lieven is Professor of History at the University of Cambridge. His research interests center on imperial Russian history, history of empires, Napoleonic era, First World War, and monarchy. Key publications include Towards the Flame. Empire, War and the End of Tsarist Russia (2015) and Russia against Napoleon. The Struggle for Europe, 1807-1814 (2009).

Everyone is welcome (no registration required). After the seminar, we will go for drinks at Pakhuis (Doelensteeg 8). 

Research Seminars Europe 1000-1800

The Research Seminars Europe 1000-1800 are informal and intended to foster discussion. Everyone is welcome to join. If you would like to receive invitations for the upcoming sessions, you can send an e-mail to: history@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Further information can be obtained from the organizers Judith Pollmann, Jeroen Duindam, Peter Hoppenbrouwers and Marianne Ritsema-van Eck.

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