Book Series European Festival Studies: 1450-1700

Triumphal Entries and Festivals in Early Modern Scotland

Performing Spaces

Giovanna Guidicini

  • Pages: 349 p.
  • Size:178 x 254 mm
  • Illustrations:45 b/w, 23 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2020

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58541-3
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58542-0
  • E-book
  • Available

This book explores how evolving notions of Scottish identity, royal power, and civic consciousness were staged in Edinburgh’s urban spaces during and in consequence of triumphal entries (1503-1633), through civic ritual, spatial arrangements, and architectural interventions.


Giovanna Guidicini holds a Master’s Degree (Laurea Magistrale) in Architecture from the Università degli Studi di Ferrara and is a member of the Architect Registration Board. She obtained her PhD in the History of Architecture at the University of Edinburgh in 2009, and has taught at the Universities of Ferrara, Edinburgh, and Plymouth, and joined the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art in 2014, where she is currently Senior Lecturer in the History of Architecture and Urban Studies. Guidicini’s research focuses on the distinct and vibrant contribution of Scottish culture to the artistic and architectural scene of early modern Europe. On this topic, she has published articles including ‘Ordering the World: Games in the Architectural Iconography of Stirling Castle, Scotland’ (2019), ‘The Political and Cultural Influence of James V’s Court on the Decoration of the King’s Fountain in Linlithgow Palace’ (2012), ‘Edinburgh and Venice: Comparing the Evolution in Communal Living in Geographically Challenged Mercantile Communities’ (forthcoming 2020). Guidicini is particularly interested in the role of the urban environment as an expression of communal values and shared political messages of Scottish communities and the Scottish nation at large.


This book offers unprecedented insights into the richness of Scottish culture in the early modern period, studying triumphal entries — that is, processional civic welcomes offered to royal guests — staged in Edinburgh in the period between 1500 and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Based on a comprehensive and imaginative analysis of the written and archival sources available for these events, it also brings renewed attention to the country’s artistic, architectural, and literary traditions. The analysis of comparable events staged in England and continental Europe — in France, the Italian peninsula, and the Low Countries — helps frame Scotland’s distinctiveness within a network of international connections. The book explores how the urban space of early modern Edinburgh was employed with changing fortunes to address potentially explosive power dynamics, expressed by civic and royal, secular and religious (pre and post Reformation), Scottish and post-1603 pan-British worldviews. Scottish triumphal culture is presented as profoundly embedded in the urban context within which it is set, rich in politicised rituals of negotiation and mutual acknowledgement, and visually vibrant through temporary structures, decorations, pageants, and costumed performers. This book offers a well-rounded answer to the still relevant question of Scottish identity, and how identity and power — individual, communal, national, royal — can be performed through active engagement with civic space.



List of Illustrations

Chapter I. Introduction to Edinburgh as a Ceremonial City

Chapter II. The Outdoors: Wilderness and Taming Nature

  • Extramural Nature and Edinburgh’s Surroundings
  • Triumphal Entries: Nature and the Outdoors
  • Burgh’s Rights: The Otherness of Outside Space
  • Addressing Local and International Views of Scottish Nature
  • The Triumphal Route: The Role of Nature
  • Wild Men and Highlanders in Scottish Ceremonies
  • Extramural Sites and the Use of Chivalric Language

Chapter III. The West Port: The Meeting of Royal and Civic Identities

  • The West Port
  • Triumphal Entries: Gateways and Urban Borders
  • Burgh’s Rights: Defence and Identity
  • The Triumphal Route: Approaching the West Port
  • Absent Royal Residences: The Castle and Holyrood Palace
  • Ceremonies of Negotiation and Gift-Giving
  • Thresholds, Fabric, and Spaces of Portable Royalty

Chapter IV. The Overbow: Discovering and Creating History

  • The Overbow
  • The Triumphal Route: A Tour through History
  • Romanitas in Scottish Triumphal Entries
  • Representing an Alternative Past
  • The Legitimizing Power of Shared History

Chapter V. Butter Tron: Representing a Mercantile Community

  • The Butter Tron
  • Triumphal Entries: Representing Local Economy
  • Burgh’s Rights: Producing and Trading
  • The Triumphal Route: Visiting a Productive Community
  • The Burgh as Organiser and Host
  • Inhabiting the Productive Space; Identity during Triumphal Entries
  • Spectators: Inclusion and Exclusion

Chapter VI. Tolbooth, St Giles Kirk, and the Market Cross: Displaying and Defending Government and Authority

  • The Tolbooth, St Giles Kirk, and the Market Cross
  • Triumphal Entries: The Role of Core Buildings
  • Burgh’s Rights: Secular and Religious Self-Determination
  • Tolbooth and Representations of Virtuous Judgement
  • St Giles Kirk and Religious Identities
  • The Triumphal Route: Addressing Stability and Change
  • Market Cross: Concord, Abundance, and Merriment

Chapter VII. The Salt Tron: Some Iconographic Considerations

  • The Salt Tron
  • The Triumphal Route: Selecting Iconographies
  • The European Dimension of Scottish Triumphal Language
  • Triumphal Entries and Courtly Ceremonies
  • Triumphal Language in the Context of Scotland’s Artistic Production

Chapter VIII. The Netherbow: Expectations and Outcomes

  • The Netherbow
  • Farewells and Predictions at the Exit Gateway
  • The Triumphal Route: Visiting Extramural Communities
  • Non-Royal Processions and the Urban Spaces
  • Welcoming Monarchs in Edinburgh after 1633
Index of Stewart Triumphal Entries

Index of Triumphal Stations in Edinburgh

General Index