The classical reception, royal image and strengthening the king’s power in early modern Poland (1520–1572)



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My thesis focuses on the interconnection between the phenomenon of the classical reception—that is the reception of the classical Greek–Roman antiquity and its legacy—and representation of the King (royal imagology) in early modern Polish Kingdom in the sixteenth century. For the analysis of these concepts, my study examines the figure of Sigismund II Augustus Jagiellon (1520–1572), the last Jagiellonian King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania and the first King of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. His reign was marked by dissemination of the classical images and figures in literature and art. My research stresses the hypothesis that the classical images and symbols were regularly used in shaping and promotion the image of Sigismund Augustus. In particular, these classical symbols deriving from the antiquity strengthened the image of the royal authority in complicated circumstances, such as confrontation with the nobility, reformist Executionist movement, and preparation of the Polish–Lithuanian Union. Promotion of the royal image was made in several ways: via direct visual and textual propaganda and through connotations and context that arose simultaneously. My thesis argues that Sigismund Augustus was regularly compared with or instructed based on the prominent examples of the classical antiquity—Cyrus, Alexander the Great, Octavianus—and this contributed to strengthening of his political positions in early modern Poland. Methodology applied in my research includes art historical and historical methods, literature analysis, involves comparative analysis and broader European context, analysing early modern Central-Eastern Europe as an integral element of Renaissance European politics and culture.