Les domaines des princes : une culture européenne de la nature ? by Raphaël DEVRED – Archives du Calvados

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Les domaines des princes : une culture européenne de la nature ? by Raphaël DEVRED – Archives du Calvados

The estates of princes: a European culture of nature?

From the Ancien Régime to the present day, lords and princes have devoted themselves to developing vast territories to establish and embellish their residences and palaces across Europe. Far from simple annexes to their stately architectural goods, these princely estates were designed and governed like sanctuaries, where nature was tamed, developed, cherished and cultivated. From a few hundred to several thousands of hectares, estates were tools for exhibiting knowledge and power, where nature was cultivated for princely usage, be it for hunting, forestry, fishing or simply walking. Far from a simple backdrop to princely politics, these estates played a central role in diplomacy and were at the heart of imaginary European nature, from domestic forest to wild garden, via agriculture and hunting. This conference will offer a retrospective on the nature of the landscapes that comprised princely estates from the 18th century to the present day, with glances at the medieval and ancient periods. After identifying networks of European estates, the conference will focus on the composition and organisation of these territories. We will concentrate particularly on the idea of a culture of nature, both European and shared, in estates across Europe, and in what it can reveal of our contemporary relationship to ideas around nature. Our reflection will be based on a nebula of European territories, from Rambouillet, Versailles and Chambord to estates in Denmark, Spain, Germany, not forgetting the last estate to have recently hit the headlines – the royal estate of Balmoral in Scotland.

Raphaël Devred

Raphaël Devred is a PhD student in history and environmental humanities at the CHCSC (centre of cultural history of contemporary societies – host team: EA 2448) at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin. The subject of his thesis covers the environmental history of the Rambouillet estate from the 18th to the 21st century. His research focuses on hunting, forest and agriculture, breeding and pastoralism, together with the preservation, management and heritage development of nature, from the Ancien Régime to the present day.

Further reading : 
Raphaël Devred , « Les domaines : une histoire au naturel », Encyclopédie d’histoire numérique de l’Europe