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Dressed to Rule

Dressed to Rule

Philip Mansel
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Dressed to Rule
    Book Description:

    Throughout history rulers have used clothes as a form of legitimization and propaganda. While palaces, pictures, and jewels might reflect the choice of a monarch's predecessors or advisers, clothes reflected the preferences of the monarch himself. Being both personal and visible, the right costume at the right time could transform and define a monarch's reputation. Many royal leaders have known this, from Louis XIV to Catherine the Great and from Napoleon I to Princess Diana.This intriguing book explores how rulers have sought to control their image through their appearance. Mansel shows how individual styles of dress throw light on the personalities of particular monarchs, on their court system, and on their ambitions. The book looks also at the economics of the costume industry, at patronage, at the etiquette involved in mourning dress, and at the act of dressing itself. Fascinating glimpses into the lives of European monarchs and contemporary potentates reveal the intimate connection between power and the way it is packaged.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17713-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: The Power of Clothes
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    From Paris to Peking, monarchs’ preoccupation with dress and appearances is one of the common threads linking them across time and space. Monarchy was a system relying on emotions and senses, as well as political and military might: the right dress was, for many monarchs, indispensable to the functioning of their monarchy. In 1870, when the Emperor of Japan was beginning to impose western dress on his subjects, his doctor urged him to let the ladies of his court retain kimonos: they were healthier than the corseted garments which tortured western women. The Emperor replied: ‘Doctor, about matters of health...

  6. 1 Splendour
    (pp. 1-17)

    On 9 June 1660, at Saint-Jean-de-Luz on the Franco-Spanish frontier, Louis XIV married the Infanta Maria Teresa, daughter of Philip IV of Spain. After twenty-four years of war from 1635 to 1659, the marriage was designed to strengthen the peace recently signed between the two kings. As observers noted, it was a meeting of rival styles as well as rival monarchs. As a sign of mourning, since the assassination of Jean sans Peur, Duke of Burgundy, in 1419, the Dukes of Burgundy and their heirs the Kings of Spain had favoured black clothes.¹ Old and broken, Philip IV wore a...

  7. 2 Service
    (pp. 18-36)

    Louis XIV projected an image of royalty as the embodiment of luxury and splendour. In the last two decades of his reign, however, a younger but equally celebrated monarch, Charles XII of Sweden, projected a rival image. Military service was its basis. Charles XII, a professional soldier almost always on campaign between 1699 and his death in 1719, generally wore, with his own hair rather than a wig, a simple military uniform with no embroidery: usually the long blue coat, yellow waistcoat, black cravat and elkskin breeches of his élite guard unit the Drabants, whom he had led to victory...

  8. 3 Identity
    (pp. 37-54)

    In 1741 Prince Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of James II, astonished the company at a ball given by the Cardinal de Rohan in Rome by appearing in Scottish Highland dress. It was a dramatic example of another element in royal and court dress: national identity. Like dress based on splendour or service, national dress had a political message. The Prince’s dress, which had been supplied from Scotland by the Jacobite Duke of Perth, proclaimed his intention to use Scotland to restore his dynasty to the thrones of its ancestors.¹

    Before the twentieth century most countries and regions had developed their...

  9. 4 Revolutions
    (pp. 55-76)

    Pleasure was the basis of another style of royal and court dress. Royal hunts and residences, like other activities and localities, had long acquired special costumes.¹ A favourite costume of Kings of France was the blue coat, with red collar and cuffs and silver embroidery, worn, since a decree of Louis XIV in 1661, by followers of the King’s deer hunt.² Most such costumes were destroyed in the hecatombs of royal objects organised during the Reign of Terror. However, examples survive in the Danish and Swedish royal collections since, on their visits to Versailles in 1768 and 1771 respectively, Christian...

  10. 5 The Age of Gold
    (pp. 77-110)

    In France, however, President Jefferson had few imitators. In contrast to the United States, after 1800 France and Europe shared a passion for gold-embroidered uniforms, civil as well as military. Criticisms of civil uniforms in the eighteenth century help explain their attractions in the nineteenth.

    Until the seventeenth century liveries had been worn by followers of a monarch or great noble, whether gentlemen or not.¹ By the eighteenth century liveries had acquired an aura of subordination. They were given to lower menservants, by their master, in the colours of the ‘field’ of the master’s coat of arms: hence red and...

  11. 6 Empires
    (pp. 111-160)

    The Archduke Johann’s regency was an illusory interlude. By the end of 1848, in Paris, Vienna and Berlin, armies had defeated revolutions.¹ The Austrian Parliament was closed in March 1849, the Frankfurt Parliament in May. Prince Schwarzenberg, the Prime Minister most respected by the Emperor Franz Josef, and the restorer of autocracy in Austria, believed: ‘one can do anything with bayonets except sit on them’.² The nineteenth century would be the century of military monarchy. The red-shirted Garibaldini of 1848 and 1860 would turn into blue-uniformed soldiers of King Victor Emmanuel II, who fired on their former leader Garibaldi and...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 161-204)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-226)
  14. Index
    (pp. 227-237)