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Online Book Salon Elizabeth Stuart – with Nadine Akkerman

On Thursday 2 December, Nadine Akkerman, Reader in early modern English literature will be a guest in the online book salon of Leiden University Libraries (UBL). Head Curator Garrelt Verhoeven will interview Akkerman about her book Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Hearts. In her biography, Akkerman describes the colourful life of one of the most misunderstood women in European history. Elizabeth Stuart has been characterized as an eccentric, money-wasting Winter Queen. Following extensive research in archives across the world, Akkerman presents a new appreciation of a woman long considered a frivolous spendthrift and damned with the pejorative title The Winter Queen. Curators of the UBL will present matching pieces from the Leiden collections during the book salon.

Tune in to the book salon

The online book salon starts at 8.30 p.m. CET on Thursday 2 December and can be followed on this page. It is not necessary to register. Just make sure to turn on subtitles and the sound of your device.

Watch the teaser here:

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Often depicted as being more interested in theatre and her monkeys than in politics or her children, Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), daughter of King James VI & I of England, was mockingly referred to as the 'Winter Queen'. Nadine Akkerman's interest was piqued when she began questioning the veracity of the stories told about Elizabeth in history books. By locating and deciphering letters from Elizabeth, she learned that the commonly understood image of her was completely wrong. Akkerman’s research presents a completely different woman: a patroness of the arts and a smart stateswoman with a sharp humour.

Winter Queen

Elizabeth Stuart was at the epicentre of the decades of conflict that characterized seventeenth-century Europe. In 1613, she married Frederick V, Elector Palatine. The couple were crowned King and Queen of Bohemia in Prague in November 1619, much to the chagrin of the deposed king, and Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand. A year later, in November 1620, Frederick’s troops were crushed by forces loyal to the Emperor. The royal couple, after ruling Bohemia for a year, were forced to flee.

The Leiden connection

Family ties with the House of Orange, and its large English and Scots communities, made the Dutch Republic the natural place for the couple to seek refuge. In April 1621, Elizabeth and Frederick arrived in The Hague with a household of 223, including a shoe shiner and a wine bottle opener. The States General housed them in the house of the late Johan van Oldenbarneveldt on the Kneuterdijk, close to the Stadholder’s quarters, where Elizabeth would remain for forty years. Considering themselves unlawfully deposed, Frederick and Elizabeth continued to use the titles King and Queen of Bohemia. It was their children’s court and college, the Prinsenhof, that would be located in Leiden in 1624. Though the last child left the Prinsenhof in 1641, Elizabeth kept rooms for her own use until 1654. She did, however, donate a beautifully gilded goblet to the city as a token of her gratitude. The goblet can now be admired in the Museum De Lakenhal.

Nadine Akkerman

Dr Nadine Akkerman is Reader in early modern English literature at Leiden University, author of the acclaimed Invisible Agents: Women and Espionage in Seventeenth-Century Britain, and editor of The Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia. In 2017, she became a member of The Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and received a Special Recognition Award from the World Cultural Council. In 2019 she received an Ammodo Science Prize for fundamental research in the humanities. This year in December, she will receive the Dr Hendrik Muller Prize for her outstanding contribution to the field of humanities. Currently, as PI of the ERC Consolidator Grant FEATHERS she is leading a large-scale research project on early modern manuscript culture and mediated authorship (2020-2025).

Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Hearts by Nadine Akkerman is a publication of Oxford University Press (ISBN: 9780199668304) in English, is 640 pages long and is available for 22,99 euro.

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