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SINTRA SUMMER SCHOOL - Women in Iberian Court Residences: Space, Power and Leisure (15th–18th centuries)

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Court and queenship studies have received growing attention over the past decades and now encompass a broad range of interdisciplinary, transnational and comparative approaches. Building on academics such as Norbert Elias and Theresa Earenfight, recent historiography has analysed themes of political, cultural and economic agency, gender relations, the development of complimentary (or antagonistic) loci of power, and the dynamic (or disruptive) networks of nobles and courtiers.


This summer school will bring together specialists of royal and court histories to analyse themes encompassing court politics, gender politics, and queenship in the Iberian contexts. It provides a unique experience to learn about, and to discuss the roles and experiences of women within the courtly and palatial settings of both Spain and Portugal.


Join us for sessions on royal households (their form and function), access and networks, female spaces, devotion, correspondence, and leisure. In order to centralise the importance of the spatial dimension within these themes, these sessions will be held in the national palaces of Sintra. Furthermore, the programme includes the opportunity to peek behind the scenes of the National Palace of Sintra, to visit the rococo splendour of the National Palace of Queluz, and to explore the romantic whimsy of the National Palace of Pena. As monastic spaces were important locations for noble education and for the performance of royal piety, the programme will also include visits to outstanding early modern female convents in Lisbon, such as the convento dos Cardaes.


This course is intended for:

  • undergraduate and graduate students and doctoral students of history, art history, museology, heritage;
  • heritage and museum professionals;
  • general public with a specific interest in the topic.


(the course will take place exclusively in English)

02/09 - National Palace of Sintra

09:00 - Reception

09:30 - Welcoming remarks

  • ANTÓNIO NUNES PEREIRA (Parques de Sintra)

09:40 - Summer School presentation

  • BRUNO A MARTINHO (Parques de Sintra, CHAM)

10:00 - Opening Lecture: Queenship Studies

  • ELENA (ELLIE) WOODACRE (University of Winchester) | Queenship Studies: From its early origins to future trajectories

11:00 - Coffee break

11:30 - Session 1: Household - Structures and functions

  • MANUELA SANTOS SILVA (UL-FLUL-CH) | The household of the Medieval Queens of Portugal: the institution and the community dependent on the Royal Consorts
  • LLEDÓ RUIZ DOMINGO (Universitat de València) | The Queen's Chamber: A symbolic stage of power in 14th and 15th century crown of Aragon

13.00 - Lunch (not included)

14:30 - Guided visit to the palace

17:30 - Cocktails

19:00 - End of first day

03/09 - National Palace of Sintra

09:30 - Session 2: Household - Networks

  • ALEJANDRA FRANGANILLO ÁLVAREZ (ITEM-UCM) | Court, patronage and female agency around the Queen of the Spanish Monarchy's Households in the first half of the seventeenth century
  • BEN JAMES (Parques de Sintra) | Dynamics and Disturbances: the Queen's Household in Restoration Portugal

11:00 - Coffee break

11:30 - Session 3: Female spaces and architecture

  • SERGIO RAMIRO RAMÍREZ (CSIC) | Female bodies shaping architectures: A gender perspective on the palaces of the Early Modern Age
  • NUNO SENOS (UNL-IHA) | Spaces for Women in 16th-century palaces in Portugal: the royal palace of Lisbon and the ducal palace of Vila Viçosa

13:00 - Lunch (not included)

14:30 - Guided visit to the palace (behind-the-scenes)

17:00 - End of second day

04/09 - Convents in Lisbon (TBC): Cardaes, Madredeus, Sta. Teresa de Jesus de Carnide

08:45 - Bus departure

10:00 - Guided visit to Convento dos Cardaes

12:00 - Lunch (included)

13.00 - Bus departure

13:30 - Guided visit to Convento da Madredeus (TBC)

15:30 - Bus departure

16:00 - Guided visit to Convento de Santa Teresa de Carnide (TBC)

17:30 – Bus departure and end of third day

05/09 - National Palace of Queluz

09:30 - Session 4: Communication

  • MARÍA CRUZ DE CARLOS VARONA (UAM) | Communication spaces and female agency
  • MASSIMO C. GIANNINI (Università di Teramo - UCM) | Nuns at court. Female power and ecclesiastical condition (1600-1700)

11:30 - Session 5: Consumption, pleasure and gardens

  • ANDRÉS GUTIÉRREZ USILLOS (Museo de America) | The incredible American trousseau of Dª María Luisa de Toledo in the second half of the 17th century
  • ISABEL DRUMOND BRAGA (UL-FLUL-CH) | Inside and outside the palace: women and entertainment in Early Modern Portugal
  • MONICA LUENGO AÑÓN (IEM; ATP) | El Capricho of the Duchess of Osuna, a space for cultural innovation in the Age of Enlightenment

13:00 - Lunch (not included)

14:30 - Guided visit to the palace

17:00 - End of fourth day

06/09 - National Palace of Pena

09:15 - Bus departure

10:00 - Roundtable: Research methodologies

  • ANTÓNIO NUNES PEREIRA (Parques de Sintra)
  • other participants

11:30 - Coffee break

12.00 - Closing remarks

  • BRUNO A MARTINHO (Parques de Sintra, CHAM)

13:00 - Lunch (not included)

14:30 - Free visit to the National Palace of Pena

16:30 - End of fifth day

Register here. Applications open until 31 March 2024

Applications open until 31 March 2024

Applications must be sent to [email protected] or via the form on this page and include:

  • completed registration form
  • motivation letter (maximum 500 words)
  • CV

Course dates

2 to 6 September 2024

Participation costs

Registration fee - students
100 €
Registration fee - general public
200 €
Accommodation (6 nights at the youth hostel)
180 €

Accommodation details


  • Meals included in the registration fee: 1 cocktail, 4 coffee breaks, 1 lunch.
  • The remaining meals are at the expense of the participant.

Maximum number of registrations

30 (thirty)


There are no credits, but a certificate is issued.


  • Fundación Carlos de Amberes
  • Parques de Sintra – Monte da Lua, SA
  • Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid
  • Universidade de Lisboa
  • Universitat de Barcelona

Associated Research Projects

  • AGENART. La agencia artística de las mujeres de la Casa de Austria (1532-1700) (Agencia Estatal de Investigación – Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, PID2020-116100GB-I00) (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid).
  • ELITFEM. Élites y 'agency' femenina al servicio de la Monarquía Hispánica (siglos XVI-XVII) (Comunidad de Madrid, PR27/21-024) (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
  • POLEMHIS. Comunicación política, gestión de la información y memoria de los conflictos en la Monarquía Hispánica (1548-1725) (Agencia Estatal de Investigación - Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, PID2020-112765GB-I00) (Universidad Complutense de Investigación).
  • CHURCHMOVE. Churchmen on the move: the routes of religious orders between Italy and Spain and beyond as instruments of political, cultural and religious exchange, and integration among the elites (1560-1700) (Proyecto Marie Sklodowska Curie UNA4CAREER-2021-ATL4000069410) (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
  • HERMESP. Élites y Agentes en la Monarquía Hispánica: Formas de articulación política, negociación y patronazgo (1506-1725) (Grupo de I+D de Excelencia, UCM, GR3/14).
  • PyRCEM. Poder y Representaciones Culturales en la Época Moderna (UNED Madrid and Universitat de Barcelona).