Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Daniel Unowsky

Committee Member

Andrew Daily

Committee Member

Sarah Potter

Committee Member

Mark Danley


This dissertation seeks to compare the ways in which Henry VIII, James II, and George II, along with their families, used their images to react and respond to challenges to their legitimacy and rule. I argue that these kings used images in a way unique to the early modern period – a time in which the search for legitimate authority was a primary concern – and that they can represent continuity and change in how legitimacy was represented and the early modern period as a whole, a period generally understood as roughly spanning roughly 1500 – 1800 CE in Europe. I also contend that they were in unique situations as “second–generation monarchs” who came to the throne as the second monarch in a dynasty after a major political, religious, societal, or cultural (or all four) upheaval that threatened the very institution of the monarchy in Britain. The ways in which these kings and their families used image – including portraits, personal representations, collecting, and patronage – speak to their needs as second–generation monarchs and their intense concern with their image and legitimacy. I will be examining a wide variety of images, along with selected texts, to show that a comparison of these kings and their families does more than tell a story about them as individuals. Rather, Henry VIII, James II, and George II demonstrate the power of the monarch and the royal family in the early modern period, about the power – real and imagined, perceived and actual – of the women surrounding the throne, about how we conceptualize the institution of the English monarchy, and how we can understand three vastly different eras, kings, reigns, and families through the way they used, and were forced to use, cultural politics.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access