People, Place, and Power in Eighteenth-Century Ghent


Ceremonies such as the one so lavishly portrayed in the Relation de l'Inauguration Solemnelle de sa Sacreé Majesté Imperiale et Catholique Charles VI...provided the opportunity for local, national, and European-wide politics to come together. Such events required large monetary expenditures and organizational efforts, usually undertaken on the part of civic institutions. In order to preserve and share the memory of such events beyond the immediate time and space in which they occurred, many of these same institutions employed authors, artists, engravers and publishers to create a lavish and costly festival book. The festival book is thus a complex artifact that can be considered an artistic record of the events as well as a visual representation of the host city's power.

The city of Ghent was not new to this kind of event nor to the making of commemorative festival books. The festival book printed at Ghent to celebrate the entry into the city of Charles VI as Count of Flanders has counterparts in similar books created elsewhere to commemorate the Emperor’s entry into other cities. 

Although we were unable to determine the number of copies of the festival book printed in Ghent for Charles VI, we were able to track down images of at least two other copies of the work in question. Aside from the copy currently held at the Rutgers Library Festival Book Collection, it has been possible to locate two other exemplars of the very same printed festival book, and to note .

The role played by the Relation de l'Inauguration Solemnelle can be clarified if one considers how the book was made, and particularly the intended effect of the visual representations (illustrations) created for this particular publication.

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