Courtly Experiences in the Premodern World, c. 1200–1800: Cultural, Material and Sensory Experiences in the World of the Court

conference, For scholars
22. 8. 2024 – 24. 8. 2024
Palacký University, Olomouc

The annual conference of the Society for Court Studies, organised by the European branch and Palacký University Olomouc, with support from the Centre for Research on Courts and Residences of the Institute of History at the Czech Academy of Sciences, will be held from 22 to 24 August 2024 at Palacký University Olomouc. The conference will take place over two days with an optional excursion to Chateau Kroměříž on day 3.


Throughout premodern history, royal and princely courts around the world were epicentres of activity, interactions, exchanges and modes of cultural production that defined the environments of different courts and also shaped the encounters that took place within different court cultures. For instance, visitors of foreign courts often described the objects in the spaces they visited, as well as the sights, sounds and smells of the world around them. Yet it is not always clear how the material or sensory elements impacted the interactions or experiences of people at court.

The field of court studies has increasingly examined the ways in which court cultures developed through the interplay between actors, institutions, and events; we have begun to understand more about the ways in which different courts were multi-sensorially and multiculturally experienced by individuals and groups. The wide variety of human interactions with their physical courtly environments emphasises the need to consider the varied elements of court experiences. This variety not only reveals the exceptional moments at court, but uncovers the everyday realities of life at the court for members, visitors and servants. There is more to be understood about how the material and sensory encounters that took place at the court were created, managed, shaped and experienced.

This interdisciplinary conference invites scholars to gather to pursue this developing field of study, seeking to explore the intersections and nuances of courtly experiences in physical, material and sensory terms. We encourage proposals from a broad range of chronological and geographical perspectives to encourage comparative discussion and to establish the potential for future collaborative work. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • dynastic and political mediation
  • ambassadors and visitors
  • ritual, ceremonial, beliefs
  • gifts, favours, object exchange
  • smells/smellscapes
  • nature/gardens
  • human-animal encounters
  • conflict, confrontation and violence
  • food/consumption
  • fashion, dress, textile
  • music, soundscapes
  • architecture, architectual/courtly spaces
  • cross-cultural encounters
  • negotiating otherness at the court
  • touch/tactile experiences
  • emotion/feelings
  • language/linguistic interactions 

Any questions can be directed to the organisers at For the latest details and information about the conference, visit

Organising and Scientific Committee:

  • Patrik Pastrnak, Palacký University Olomouc/SCS-European Branch, Conference Officer
  • Dustin M. Neighbors, University of Helsinki/SCS-European Branch, Chair
  • Janet Dickinson, New York University, London and the Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford/Society for Court Studies (SCS), Conference Secretary
All events
conference, For scholars
22. 8. 2024 – 24. 8. 2024
Palacký University, Olomouc