This book brings vividly to life the courtiers and servants of the imperial court in Vienna and the royal court at Paris-Versailles. Drawing on a wealth of material masterfully set in a comparative context, the book makes a unique contribution to the field of court studies. Staff, numbers, costs and hierarchies; daily routines and ceremonies; court favourites and the nature of rulership; the integrative and centripetal forces of the central courtly establishment: all are seen in a long-term, comparative perspective that highlights both the similarities and the distinctiveness of developments in France and the Habsburg lands. In the process, most conventional views of each court - and of court life in general - are challenged, and an alternative interpretation emerges. Finally, by relocating the household in the heart of the early modern state, Vienna and Versailles forces us to rethink the process of statebuilding and the tion of 'absolutism'.
Jeroen Duindam is Lecturer in History, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands.