chapter  3
14 Pages

Feeling Unhistorical


This chapter considers the ways in which royal women configured their relationships to the dwarfs body and self. Subjected to wildly contrary impulses, from parental care to sadism and sexual aggression, the court dwarf inspired a plethora of technologies, representations, and spectacles. In a few remarkable cases, a dwarf became bound to a master or mistress by what seems to have been strong affective bonds of intimacy and friendship, as in the longstanding league between Queen Henrietta Maria and Jeffrey Hudson. Elizabeth theatrical arts were matters of state, and they entailed massive amnesia and mystification, as well as miniaturization and gigantification. The Infanta's female dwarf entered the court in the guise of a caged parrot, yet the imposture gave her the chance to display Infanta linguistic and theatrical skill and to win over her new mistress, Catherine de Medici, a renowned patron and producer of theater.