The Duke’s Favourites: Towards a Gendered View of the Politics of Concubinage at the Early Modern Court

Maritz, Regine (2019). The Duke’s Favourites: Towards a Gendered View of the Politics of Concubinage at the Early Modern Court. German History, 4(37), pp. 459-477. Oxford University Press 10.1093/gerhis/ghy107

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Mistresses at the early modern court have only recently been discovered as subjects of political history. They are now increasingly discussed alongside male favourites, and while this essay welcomes this development, it also argues that this should not result in the degendering of the practice of concubinage. The upkeep of extramarital relationships was not a viable option for ruling women, and if they transgressed this cultural norm, they were sanctioned severely, as is illustrated by case of Sophie Dorothea of Celle. Such a clear gendering of a specific practice indicates that there was power at stake. Here it is argued that we can only fully appreciate the political dimension of concubinage if we broaden our perspective beyond the mistress-ruler relationship to include the political configuration of the ruling ‘working couple’, which was of crucial importance specifically at Protestant German-speaking courts. The comparison of a male favourite and a female favourite in the duchy of Württemberg exemplifies how both these actors could recalibrate specific configurations of power in ways that departed from the God-given order of governance and thus induce anxiety in contemporaries. Female favourite Magdalena Möringer took on functions of the local duchess and thus helped the duke concentrate power in his person by breaking up the deeply rooted assumptions about the collaborative labour of ruling couples that were influential in early modern Germany.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History > Recent History

UniBE Contributor:

Maritz, Regine


900 History > 940 History of Europe




Oxford University Press


Regine Maritz

Date Deposited:

31 Mar 2020 14:04

Last Modified:

23 Dec 2021 00:25

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Early Modern Court; Mistresses; Gender and Politics




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