Hunting for Ambition: The Royal Hunt and the Representation of Power at the Court of Savoy. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022


Influenced by anthropology and the 'performative turn' in social sciences, historians and political analysts alike have begun to reconsider notions of 'authority'. Sovereignty is now understood to be a continuous activity of claim making. As a result, the on-going performance of power can be studied through seemingly trivial activities. If any of these deserves to be studied from that perspective, it is most certainly the princely hunt. It would even be difficult to conceive of something more apt to reach a deeper understanding of the performance of sovereignty. The means allotted to the hunt offer an instrument to measure the levels of investment in – and therefore the long-term evolution of – that performance. They not only show how royal magnificence was constructed time and again; they also reveal how the symbolic violence exercised by the princely hunt encountered resistance. By studying the evolution of one royal hunt over a long period of time, this project has the ambition to deliver a new interpretation of the performance of sovereignty. In order to do so, it will develop a novel instrument to quantify the way the hunt served to enact power. In parallel with the FWO-project on the Habsburg Netherlands, it focuses on the states of the House of Savoy for two reasons: the unusual quality of the primary sources and the dynasty's ambitions and changes in status between the middle of the sixteenth and the end of the eighteenth century.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project