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Kvinnor och politiska praktiker i Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2015 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Women and political practices in the diary of Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta (English)
Abstract [en]

Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta of Holstein-Gottorp (1759-1818), was married to the Swedish Prince Charles, Duke of Sudermannia, later Charles XIII, and the sister-in-law of Gustav III of Sweden. She left a journal written between 1775 and 1817, which has become a valuable reference work of contemporary Sweden. The purpose of this essay was to examine the journal, and analyze the methods available for women portrayed as politically active within it. By which methods could females participate in politics; on which terms could they use them; how far could they affect the affairs of state with them; and how were these methods of political practices perceived? I have restricted myself to the study of the first six volumes of the journal, which includes the years 1775-99. I have also limited the study to include only the women active in politics in Sweden, though in that case I include both Swedish and foreign women. In the study, I divide the politically active females I find in the journal in categories by their characteristics, describing this categories and analyzing them by the purpose stated above. The journal, being written by a member of the royal house, focuses mainly on the affairs of the royal court and aristocracy. The majority of the females portrayed belonged to the elite, and the result reflects this. Thus, the essay can be said to give an image of the possibilities of predominately elite women to practice politics, during the absolute monarchy in the last quarter of the 18th-century Sweden. The result of the study could be divided in to six categories of political practice: mediators; diplomats; spies; opposition; influence; and intrigues. It was apparently common and accepted for a supplicant to ask for the mediation of a woman close to a male power holder, and she could perform her mission openly upon commission, or her own initiative, thereby affecting the result of a political conflict. A woman known to have connections with the representatives of two nations could also be commissioned as a diplomat in the negotiations between two states. This seems to have been regarded as especially legitimate for a royal woman, being related to ruling dynasties across the borders. As a diplomat, a woman could affect ongoing political action. Spies, on the other hand, do not seem to have had a good reputation, but they were common enough to have been regarded as a natural consequence of the system. There were both professional spies who worked upon commission, as well as idealistic amateurs. As a spy, a woman could affect future political action, as the information provided by spies affected the course of politics. An elite woman could express political criticism by using the etiquette of representational social life to demonstrate her sympathies to the public. This was seen as a serious threat by power holders, and the reason seem to have been women’s influence upon males. Women close to male power holders were seen as potentially influential upon politics, and indeed they could be, though this was a frail influence. They could, finally, use this influence to gather male connections and create an intrigue to achieve a political goal. A woman could easily be suspected for plotting, and she could also be accepted as the leader of an intrigue, and openly play a leading role when a plot was put in action. The conclusion of my study was that there were seemingly six categories by which an elite woman in the Gustavian absolute monarchy could practice politics. These were mediation, diplomacy, spying, opposition, influence and intrigue. Through these methods, she could affect the result of a political conflict; an ongoing policy; the decisions of a future policy; demonstrate her criticism; influence policy; and create and realize her own policy, respectively.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 72 p.
Keyword [en]
Diary of Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta, Political practices, Elite women, The Gustavian Age
Keyword [sv]
Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok, Politiska praktiker, Elitkvinnor, Gustavianska tiden
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-254758OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-254758DiVA: diva2:823179
Subject / course
Available from: 2015-08-05 Created: 2015-06-10 Last updated: 2015-08-05Bibliographically approved

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