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Servants of the Dynasty

Palace Women in World History

Anne Walthall (Editor)


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Mothers, wives, concubines, entertainers, attendants, officials, maids, drudges. By offering the first comparative view of the women who lived, worked, and served in royal courts around the globe, this work opens a new perspective on the monarchies that have dominated much of human history. Written by leading historians, anthropologists, and archeologists, these lively essays take us from Mayan states to twentieth-century Benin in Nigeria, to the palace of Japanese Shoguns, the Chinese Imperial courts, eighteenth-century Versailles, Mughal India, and beyond. Together they investigate how women's roles differed, how their roles changed over time, and how their histories can illuminate the structures of power and societies in which they lived. This work also furthers our understanding of how royal courts, created to project the authority of male rulers, maintained themselves through the reproductive and productive powers of women.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables

Introducing Palace Women—Anne Walthall
1. Women and the Performance of Power in
Early Modern Southeast Asia—Barbara Watson Andaya
2. Women in Classic Maya Royal Courts—Takeshi Inomata
3. Women and Power at the Byzantine Court—Kathryn M. Ringrose
4. Beyond Harem Walls: Ottoman Royal Women and the Exercise of Power—Leslie P. Peirce
5. Mughal Palace Women—Ruby Lal
6. Politics in an African Royal Harem: Women and Seclusion at the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria—Flora Edouwaye S. Kaplan
7. Qing Imperial Women: Empresses, Concubines, and Aisin Gioro Daughters—Shuo Wang
8. The Royal Women of Ivan IV's Family and the Meaning of Forced Tonsure—
Isolde Thyrêt
9. Servants of the Inner Quarters: The Women of the Shogun's Great Interior—Hata Hisako
10. Women of Versailles, 1682-1789—Kathryn Norberg
11. Concubines and Cloth: Women and Weaving in Aztec Palaces and in Colonial Mexico—Susan Toby Evans
12. Women, Royalty, and Indigo Dyeing in Northern Nigeria, circa 1500-1807—Heidi J. Nast
13. Gender and Entertainment at the Song Court—Beverly Bossler
14. The Vanished Women of Korea: The Anonymity of Texts and the Historicity of Subjects—JaHyun Kim Haboush
15. The Perils of the Sentimental Family for Royalty in Postrevolutionary France: The Case of Queen Marie-Amélie—Jo Burr Margadant

Anne Walthall is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. She is author of Japan: A Cultural, Social, and Political History and The Weak Body of a Useless Woman: Matsuo Taseko and the Meiji Restoration, among other books.
“This expansive collection. . . affords the first comprehensive review of the women who served in royal courts and palaces around the world, and thereby offers a welcome correction to our androcentric understanding of monarchies.”—The China Beat Blog
“Excellent.”—M. E. Wiesner Choice

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