Scotland Triumphant : the relevance of Stewart triumphal celebrations in shaping Scottish Renaissance architecture
This thesis discusses Scottish triumphal entries, and Scottish triumphal culture in general, and aims to advance understanding of the local application of Renaissance ideas, in relation to art and architecture. Triumphal language represented a strongly unifying element in XVI century European culture. Through temporary architecture, decorations, and entertainments, many sovereigns showed visually to a local and international audience their increasing power, legitimate rule, personal qualities, and ambitions. Urban entries also represented an important moment of dialogue with the local authorities of the city hosting the triumph, who would have used this unique opportunity to communicate with the ruler, presenting issues, asking for help, or offering advice. Although the importance of triumphal language has been recognized with regard to Europe, the use of triumphal language in Scotland and by the Stewart monarchs has been only marginally considered: in particular, each entry has been considered separately, and not in connection with each other, with their architectural setting –the city- or as a source of inspiration for permanent architecture. This thesis will show how local triumphal entries and ceremonies can be used to analyze the development of Scottish culture during the Renaissance. Some of the topics treated will be, the imperial aspiration and increasingly absolutist ideas of the Stewarts, the surfacing of religious issues and the uneasy coexistence of different creeds, and the increasing interest in classical language in and beyond the court. This thesis will reinforce the connection between the Scottish Renaissance and the European Renaissance, Italian in particular, showing how many aspects of Scottish architecture of the time can be interpreted not as surprising, isolated expression of taste, but as consequences or related facts to the spectacularization of life of which triumphal culture was a politicized, dynastical expression. Two of James V’s main architectural enterprises, the refashioning of Linlithgow Palace with the creation of a fountain in the central courtyard, and the elaborated stone decoration created for Stirling Castle, will be shown as derivations and expression of international triumphal culture. The perfect king and queen represented through them, presiding over a perfect court, are similar to the idealized figures presented to the crowd during a triumphal entry, and can be connected with foreign sources of inspiration, particularly French, Italian, and German. Outdoor spaces like the garden of Edzell Castle will be interpreted as the permanent, private recreation of the controllable, perfect world created through triumphal entries, inspired by triumphal decoration and foreign designs. The messages delivered through the decorations also reflected the usual admonitions to an entering queen, and the politicized messages suitable to a ruler of international prestige. The city of Edinburgh will be analyzed in its role as a stage and a protagonist of Stewart royal entries in the period 1503-1636. As an active character, it will pose limits and offer opportunities through its very geological conformation and the positioning of its main buildings. As a stage, it was endowed with timber settings, the Piazzas and upper promenades, where and from where the spectacle of everyday life could be performed and enjoyed. An artificially tamed natural landscape was also granted temporary access, showing with its presence the ruler’s control upon the forces of the world which he can evoke and govern at will, creating a perfectly balanced, renewed cosmos.