Events in the Department of History

Crowns and Colonies: Monarchies and Colonial Empires

From 11 June, 2014 to 13 June, 2014

An international conference convened by Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery

With a keynote address by Professor Miles Taylor, Director of the Institute for Historical Research, University of London, on Queen Victoria and India

Department of History,
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry
University of Sydney
11-13 June 2014

From the time of Alexander the Great and the Roman Caesars down to the empire of Queen Victoria and beyond, monarchism and imperialism have often been linked – indeed, republican colonial empires have been notable exceptions in international history. Napoleon III dreamed of constructing an ‘Arab kingdom’, Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India, King Leopold created his own realm the Congo, and Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel III was named Emperor of Ethiopia. Even today the Commonwealth of Nations is bound together by the figure of the British monarch, and the Danish queen reigns over Greenland and the Faeroe Islands.

Outside of Europe, as well, monarchs ruled over disparate peoples, their hereditary and often sacred positions bringing together under a crown the empires of China, Japan, the Ottoman state and several pre-colonial African empires. Non-Western monarchs – Zulu chieftains, Indian maharajahs, Emperor Haile Selassie, the king of Korea among others – were themselves often displaced by imperial conquest. Nationalist movements sometimes campaigned for the restoration of dynasties, at other times for abandonment of ‘feudal’ rule.

This international conference, and a proposed collection of essays commissioned from participants, explores the links between crowned rulers and their colonial possessions. Paper proposals are invited on any historical period or region.

Themes may include but are not limited to:

  • different theories of kingship in relation to colonial empire;
  • royal initiatives in colonial expansion and patronage of colonial expeditions, chartered companies and learned societies;
  • the legal position and prerogatives of monarchs in colonial systems;
  • interventions by monarchs in colonial politics and governance;
  • royal visits to colonies (and visits by colonial rajas, sultans and other rulers to colonial metropoles);
  • royal personages in the colonial military and administration; representations of monarchs in colonies (statues, buildings, artwork) and commemoration of royal births, anniversaries and deaths; royal honours, decorations and investitures;
  • movements for the restoration of indigenous dynasties abolished by colonial authorities;
  • the repercussions of metropolitan and nationalist republicanism and dissolution of monarchies in the colonial world;
  • and links between former colonies and monarchies (as in the Commonwealth).

Please send proposals of papers by 15 February 2014 to:
Professor Robert Aldrich and Dr Cindy McCreery: Click here to email

Please include the following:

  • Your academic or professional affiliation and full contact details (email, telephone and postal address)
  • The title of your proposed presentation
  • A 250-word abstract
  • A one-page cv or list of your major publications

All proposals will be assessed after the deadline of 15 February 2014.

Please note that there will be no registration fee for the conference. There will be a conference dinner at participants’ own expense.

Location: CCANESA Boardroom

Contact:Prof Robert Aldrich and Dr Cindy McCreery
Email:robert.aldrich@sydney.edu.au; cindy.mccreery@sydney.edu.au