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Sara Smart

My research focuses on the dynastic women at the heart of the gradual but inexorable ascent of the Hohenzollern electors of Brandenburg and, from 1701, kings in Prussia. My interest is in the depiction of these women as wives and consorts, mothers and widows from 1616 to 1713, a period encompassing confessional change and the insecurity of the Thirty Years’ War, the emergence of Brandenburg as a military power, and the creation of the Hohenzollern kingship. The Herzog August Bibliothek has significant holdings that provide insight into the dynasty’s self-fashioning in this foundational period. Notable among these are substantial funerary volumes, above all the lavish volume commemorating the death in 1705 of Sophie Charlotte, first queen in Prussia. Such texts, which served as official vehicles of communication for the Hohenzollern court, illuminate tradition and innovation in the styling of female dynastic identity and shifts in perception of the role of consort.