Project Updates

December 2021

Anne-Sophie Dénoue Complete Project

As 2021 drew to a close, sadly so too did the position of project member Anne-Sophie Dénoue who began her work in 2019. We bid a fond farewell to Anne-Sophie as she continues her teaching career in Innsbruck and will continue to support the finessing of the final edition of Maria Carolina's letters. We are grateful to Anne-Sophie for all her hard work over the years and wish her the best for the future.

October 2021

Second Maria Carolina Network Meeting
In late October 2021, we met online for our Autumn semester network meeting. This gathering was an ideal opportunity for members to reconnect and update each other on their current work. Network member Cigdem Özel (Vienna) presented her latest research on Maria Carolina as a patron of the arts and promoter of artistic exchange between Naples and Vienna which met with high acclaim.

Giovanni Merola Completes Project

The start of the month witnessed the conclusion of project member Giovanni Merola's time on the project. Before coming to the Maria Carolina project at Innsbruck, Giovanni completed a master's dissertation on Maria Carolina's personal memoires which he published in 2018. His work within the project has been invaluable and he will be sorely missed as he embarks on developing his artistic career in painting. We wish him all the best in his new endeavours and look forward to celebrating the overall completion of the edition of Maria Carolina's letters with him in the near future.

September 2021


The Revolving State (© The Britism Museum)

Rome Conference
Members of the Maria Carolina Project held the conference Vom Alten abgrenzen und das Neue vorwegnehmen? / Separarsi dal veccio ordine e anticipare il nuovo? in conjunction with the Austrian Historical Institute in Rome, Italy which featured papers on the ideas of distancing from past regimes whilst anticipating future trends within a historical framework. Project members presented papers on Maria Carolina and Ferdinand as reformers and monarchs. The full programme is available here.

May 2021

Sensory Spaces / Sinnesräume Conference
An international conference focused on the application of sensory history to spaital concepts was co-organised by Maria Carolina project leader Ellinor Forster. A paper by Jonathan Singerton with contributions from Anne-Sophie Dénoue and Giovanni Merola discussed the sensory preferences of Maria Carolina's travel in and around Naples. The event was held online due to the pandemic and was well-received and attended. A full programme is available here.

April 2021

First Maria Carolina Network Meeting
The first inaugural meeting of the Maria Carolina Network took place online due to the ongoing pandemic. Members discussed their overlapping research interests as well as the overall aims and future potential of the network. We agreed to build upon this initiative by wokring towards an in-person meeting and to host regular online sessions throughout the year to discuss research developments and current works-in-progress.

January 2021

Launch of the Maria Carolina Network
In January 2021, the Maria Carolina Network officially launched. This new website marks the ambitions of the network to connect scholars engaged in research about Maria Carolina and her times in Naples-Sicily. With around twenty inaugural members, we hope to establish the first online network meeting in the coming weeks.

October-December 2020


The Golden Roof and an empty square (© Private)

Work Continues on the Project
The Maria Carolina team continued the work editing and writing about the epistolary legacy of Maria Carolina throughout the summer. As the world still reels from the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no notable events amid daily academic life; no conferences or travel permitted.  

Sinnesräume Conference Postponed
As a consequence of the on-going pandemic, the Sinnesräume conference aiming to combine the fields of spatial and sensory history has been delayed until May 2021. As part of the anticipated conference programme, the MC team are scheduled to present a paper entitled: Sinneserfahrungen zwischen Hier und Dort: Die Sinne Maria Carolinas durch den reisenden Raum (Sensory Experience between the Here and There: The Senses of Maria Carolina through the Travelling Space). 

September 2020

Marking Maria Carolina's Anniversary in Vorarlberg
The whole Maria Carolina team travelled to the neighbouring Austrian province of Vorarlberg on 8 September, the date on which Maria Carolina died in 1814. They visited the Angelika Kauffmann Museum in Schwarzenberg, an arist renowned for her portrait of Maria Carolina, and the Provincial Museum in Bregenz which houses the portrait. The team enjoyed the opportunity to bond over the many historical artifacts and images held in the museums.


The view of Lake Constance from the Vorarlberg Museum in Bregenz (© Private) 

July-August 2020


The Golden Roof in Innsbruck (© Private)

Work Continues on the Project
The Maria Carolina team continued the work editing and writing about the epistolary legacy of Maria Carolina throughout the summer. As the world still reels from the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no notable events amid daily academic life; no conferences or travel permitted. 

June 2020

Maria Carolina in Austrian Newspaper Die Presse
In  June, Prof. Ellinor Forster gave an interview for one of the leading Austrian national newspapers, Die Presse. The article, entitled Großmutter und Gegnerin von Napoleon (Grandmother and an Opponent of Napoleon) featured an overview of Maria Carolina's fascinating life ranging from her politicking via marriages to her reaction against Napoleon's European conquest.

Maria Carolina's Reading Habits Presented via Online Conference
Dr. Jonathan Singerton presented a paper entitled "Die Lesegewohnheiten Maria Carolinas von Neapel-Sizilien" (The Reading Habits of Maria Carolina of Naples-Sicily) as part of the Historische Bestseller und alte Scharteken: Neueste Studien zur Buch- und Leser*innengeschichte (Historical Bestsellers and Old Tomes: New Studies in Book and Reading History) conference hosted by the Reading in the Alps (RITA) team at the University of Innsbruck. Due to restrictions imposed on physical gatherings and border closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event took place entirely online. Dr. Singerton's paper referred to the daily reading habits of Maria Carolina, focusing on what, where, and when she read throughout her life based on archival sources from the project.


Maria Carolina's Reading Notes for 1782 (© Archivio di Stato di Napoli)

May 2020

Letters from the Quarantine: Then and Now
Inspired by Dr. Jonathan Singerton's interview "Quarantine is Nothing New" in the local Bezirksblätter, the pupils of the local Bundesrealgynasium Innsbruck at Adolf-Pichler-Platz created their own versions of Maria Carolina's letters from her own quarantine in Odessa in 1813.  We are grateful that the pupils of Dr. Stephan Scharinger's classes chose to share their wonderful renditions with us, which we recently compiled in a blog on our project website. Certainly, Maria Carolina could never have imagined that her personal letters to her nephew Emperor Franz would serve as a model to students facing similar conditions to her quarantine over two-hundred years later.

Bundesrealgymnasium Innsbruck Adolf-Pichler-Platz

Bundesrealgymnasium Innsbruck Adolf-Pichler-Platz (© Dr. Scharinger 2020)

April 2020


Statistics for COVID-19 in Tyrol (© Land Tirol 2020)

The Project Continues under Lockdown
During April and May, the Maria Carolina team continued to work from home due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. All University of Innsbruck staff were required to stay at home whilst the province of Tyrol and the rest of Austria remained under lockdown. The beginning of April witnessed the highest amount of new confirmed cases with around 200 per day but this thankfully this began to abate by the end of the month following stringent measures and public cooperation. The overview of the COVID-19 outbreak in Tyrol is visible here.

March 2020

Campus Closure and Home-Office 
In mid-March, the University of Innsbruck along with other businesses and public buildings in Tyrol closed on account of the global Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the four members of the Maria Carolina Project have been working from home since then. The measures are likely to continue throughout April and into May. We have, however, stayed in contact with our weekly meetings (see right) and pressed on with our work.  

Maria Carolina's Quarantine in the News 
For our monthly blog, Dr. Jonathan Singerton wrote about Maria Carolina's own period in isolation during her exiled return to Vienna in 1813 where she spent 41 days in quarantine in the city of Odessa. Our example has since then been picked up by various press outlets and Dr. Singerton has given several interviews including the Innsbruck Bezirksblätter, South Tyrol's and shortly appearing the in the nationwide Kurier


The Maria Carolina team videoconferencing during the Covid-19 pandemic (© Private 2020)

February 2020

Eine Habsburgerin kämpft gegen Napoleon

"Eine Habsburgerin kämpft gegen Napoleon" in DAMALS (© DAMALS 2020)

Article in DAMALS Magazine
Written by Dr. Jonathan Singerton and Prof. Ellinor Forster, the article "Eine Habsburgerin kämpft gegen Napoleon" is now available online. The original article featured in the January edition of the popular German-language magazine, DAMALS. The article details Maria Carolina's international outlook during the Napoleonic Wars, discussing her relations with Great Britain, Russia, the Holy Roman Empire, and of course France. It shows Maria Carolina to be an astute politician on the European stage during a critical period.

January 2020

International Fellowship Awarded
At the beginnging of the year, project member Dr. Jonathan Singerton has been awarded a fellowship by the BritInn Academic Network, a new exchange intiative at the University of Innsbruck. As part of this fellowship, he will be based at the University of Cambridge during the Autumn semster 2020 where he will present the latest results of our research project to the Cambridge New Habsburg Studies Network.

New Letters Found at the Austrian National Library
During a quick archival trip Jonathan visited the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (right) to scout out further material for our project. He was able to uncover new material relevant for our work among the collections of the Manuscripts Department including a previously unknown letter sent from Emperor Joseph II to his sister Maria Carolina and letters between Giovanni (John) Acton and King Ferdinand IV of Naples-Sicily.


Augustiner Lesesaal ÖNBThe Augustine reading room of the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)

December 2019

Maria Carolina British Museum

Maria Carolina by Marie Anne Bourlier, 1807 (British Museum, 1982 U-3034)

Archival Visit in London
At the end of the year, project member Jonathan Singerton revisited the National Archives at Kew in order to collect additional material pertaining to the project. This included primary sources from the British envoys at Naples and the domestic correspondence with Neapolitan ministers. Included within this material were original letters of Queen Maria Carolina to Lady Hamilton, the wife of the British ambassador Sir William Hamilton. This material will be beneficial to the overall project with a focus on the British involvement in Naples-Sicily from 1811 to 1814. Dr. Singerton also visited the British Museum which holds multiple material objects relating to Maria Carolina and Naples during the reign of her husband Ferdinand IV.


2nd Edition Milestone
Following the 100th collated letter in each of Maria Carolina's correspondence with Emperor Leopold and Emperor Franz, the team reached another with over 500 transcribed letters in December and 250 collated letters by the start of the Christmas holidays. As we reach each milestone, it provides us with time to reflect on what we have before us, what we have learned, and what still lies ahead in an endlessly fascinating collection of letters.


November 2019

1st Edition Milestone
After completing the processing of the archival material in the summer, the team began working through our manuscripts for the edition of Maria Carolina's correspondence. This involves team members Giovanni Merola and Jonathan Singerton arranging and transcribing the letters before jointly-collating the transcriptions with fellow team member Anne-Sophie Dénoue. In November, we reached our first milestone as we have collated over one hundred letters each in the correspondences of Maria Carolina with Emperor Franz and Emperor Leopold.


Presentation at the University of Innsbruck
Team members Ellinor Forster and Jonathan Singerton presented a joint-paper as a part of the 2nd Workshop of the Doctoral College Austrian Studies at the University of Innsbruck entitled "Histoire Croisée in den Schuhen Johann Wolfgang von Goethes auf seiner Reise nach Italien - und was daran 'österreichisch' ist" which used a histoire croisée approach to the Naples portion of Goethe's famous Italian soujourn. Prof. Forster then extrapolated the meaning of 'Austria' within Goethe's journey.

Alpine views from our offices
October 2019

New Letters Found in Vienna
During an archival visit to Vienna, we found new letters between Maria Carolina and her brother Emperor Franz II/I (as well as some letters between Maria Carolina and other individuals) in an unusual section of the Haus-, Hof-, und Staatsarchiv. These new letters are extremely valuable given the scant amount of letters from Franz to Maria Carolina. These new finds will be incorporated into the forthcoming online edition of our project.


The National University of Public Service, Budapest

Presentation in Budapest
Project member Jonathan Singerton presented a paper entitled "The Mirror of Habsburg Reform in the Austrian Netherlands and Hungary: Maria Carolina's Ideal Governance and its Opposition in Naples-Sicily 1775-1814" as part of the 'Pamphlets and Patriots: Oppositional Movements in the Austrian Netherlands and Hungary in 1789-1790 at the Thomas Molnar Institute for Advanced Studies at the National University of Public Service in Budapest. His paper spoke about how Maria Carolina's own reform agenda in Naples-Sicily mirrored that of her brother Joseph in the Habsburg Monarchy and about the similarities of the oppositional movements against these reforms both in Central Europe and in southern Italy. His participation was kindly supported by the Österreichisches Kulturforum - Budapest.
September 2019

Discoveries at the British Library and The National Archives at Kew
After the workshop below, project member Jonathan Singerton travelled to London in order to carry out research for the project at the British Library and the National Archives at Kew. The British Library holds a number of valuable materials relating to Naples at the time of Maria Carolina's reign, such as the personal papers of the British ambassador Sir William Hamilton, but also preserves dozens of her private letters with the British Consul Robert Fagan. As one of her only allies during her turbulent disputes with the British ambassador Lord William Bentinck, Fagan's correspondence with the Queen provides us with a rare window into her distressed state prior to her exile from Sicily.


The National Archives at Kew, UK


Mansfield College at Night.

Presentation at the University of Oxford
As a participant in the Emerging Scholars in the Humanities workshop, project member Jonathan Singerton presented his latest research and introduced the project in a talk entitled "Experiencing the Age of Revolutions in the Habsburg Lands 1763-1814." The workshop was hosted by Mansfield College, Oxford and was sponsored and organised by the University of Notre Dame. It aimed at spotlighting the research of early career scholars and former participants of the Global Dome PhD Accelerator programme.


                                                          Workshop on MaxQDA Programming
In early September, all project members attended a starter workshop at the University of Innsbruck led by Anna Oberrauch on the MaxQDA software. The potential of this digital tool in coding and analysing the letters will be paramount to the development of the online edition and represents one of the core aims of this project: to provide historians and humanities scholars with a fully-accessible database of Maria Carolina's correspondence that will allow for greater research insights and interrogation. By using MaxQDA, we will be able to codify data points such as persons, places, and themes within the correspondence which will make the database more than simply a edited collection of letters for users.


Learning by seeing, MaxQDA Workshop

August 2019

Database Milestone Reached
During the summer, the team completed the processing of the letters of Maria Carolina held in the Haus-, Hof-, und Staatsarchiv and the Archivio di Stato di Napoli. This allows us to announce that we currently have at least 2,452 letters between Maria Carolina and Leopold, Marie Therese, and Franz in our database.

July 2019


Discoveries in the Scottish Archives
Whilst they attended and presented at the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS) conference in Edinburgh, team members Ellinor Forster and Jonathan Singerton gathered new material relevant to Maria Carolina at the local archives. This included her correspondence with British ministers during the difficult years in exile first in Sicily and then in Vienna and are a valuable, if underused, source for the project and the wider history of revolutionary Naples.

View from the reading room of the National Library of Scotland


                                                                   Prize Award to Giovanni Merola
On July 9th the Swarovski Foundation officially presented project member Giovanni Merola with a research prize worth €5,000 to enable the further development of his focus on the political iconography of Maria Carolina and to incorporate this within the final database. The Swarovski Foundation generously awards ten of these highly competitive prizes to young researchers at the University of Innsbruck each year. We are delighted that Giovanni and the project was selected as the only humanities discipline in the competition.


Giovanni Merola (front: second from left)

Archivio di Stato di Napoli

Inside the Archivio di Stato di Napoli

First Team Visit to Naples
For one week, between July 1st and 5th, all four members of the project visited Naples. We spent most of our time at the Archivio di Stato di Napoli where we copied thousands of pages of material relevant to our project ranging from Maria Carolina's correspondence with ministers and other family members to the speeches of Ferdinand IV and their mariage contract. These documents enable us to better contextualise the project and to cross-reference entries in the database. As part of our trip we also visited the places where Maria Carolina lived such as the Royal Palace of Naples (Palazzo Reale di Napoli) and the Royal Palace of Casserta (Reggia di Caserta) just outside Naples. In these palaces we saw many contemporary portraits of Maria Carolina.  

June 2019

Major Archival Find in Paris
In mid-June, project member Jonathan Singerton travelled to the Archives Nationales in Paris where he discovered a number of pertinant letters relevant to the project, including correspondance of Maria Carolina which may have not survived elsewhere.


The Archives Nationales in Paris, France

May 2019
Participation in Digi-Day at the University of Innsbruck
On 16 May 2019, the four project members presented the project at the third Austrian Digi-Day, an annual event organised by one of our cooperation partners, the Austrian Society for the Study of the Eighteenth Century (ÖGE18), to showcase the latest in digital historical research and methods in Austria. The event was held under the auspices of (another cooperation partner) the Research Centre for Digital Humanities at the University of Innsbruck and was well attended. Using various devices, we hosted an interactive 'station' where other participants could learn about our project's aims and try out our test database.

New Website Launched
In early May, our new website was launched where we outline out project's aims and rationale, chart our progress with blogs and updates like this as well as list our cooperation partners, team members, and scholarly output.


Nach oben scrollen