Dressed to Rule : Royal and Court Costume from Louis XIV to Elizabeth II (2005)

By: Philip Mansel

Throughout history rulers have used dress as a form of legitimisation and propaganda. While palaces, pictures and jewels might reflect the choice of a monarch’s predecessors or advisers, clothes reflected the preferences of the monarch himself. Being both personal and visible, the right costume at the right time could transform and define a monarch’s reputation. Many royal leaders have used dress as a weapon, from Louis XIV to Catherine the Great, and Napoleon I to Princess Diana. This book explores how rulers have sought to control their image through their appearance. Mansel shows how individual styles of dress throw light on the personalities of particular monarchs, on their court system, and on their ambitions. He looks also at the economics of the costume industry, at patronage, at the etiquette involved in mourning dress, and at the act of dressing itself. Fascinating glimpses into the lives of European monarchs and contemporary potentates reveal the intimate connection between power and the way it is packaged.

More Information


Publisher: New Haven, Conn : Yale University Press, [2005]
ISBN: 9780300106978 0300106971
OCLC Number: 605887472
Description: 237 S : Ill

Table of contents

Table of contents


I Splendour

II Service

III Identity

IV Revolutions

V The Age of Gold

VI Empires

About the author

About the author

Philip Mansel is a historian of courts and cities, and of France and the Ottoman Empire. He was born in London in 1951 and educated at Eton College, where he was a King’s Scholar, and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Modern History and Modern Languages. Following four years’ research into the French court of the period 1814-1830, he was awarded his doctorate at University College, London in 1978.

Altogether Philip Mansel has published thirteen books of history and biography, mainly relating either to France or the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East: Sultans in Splendour was published in 1988, Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire 1453-1924 in 1995 and Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean in 2010.

Over the past 30 years he has contributed reviews and articles to a wide range of newspapers and journals, including History Today, The English Historical Review, The International Herald Tribune, Books and Bookmen, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Apollo. Currently he writes reviews for The Spectator, Cornucopia, The Art Newspaper and The Times Literary Supplement.



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