Keywords: Kinship, Body, French monarchy, Rulership, Letters.
The analysis of the French royal family’s correspondence from the second half of the sixteenth century demonstrates that kinship relations were embodied at certain points of the communication process. By referring to blood, pain or the mother’s belly, writers framed and created physical kinship ties. The article explores kinship as a social practice and investigates how and for what purposes bodily kinship and descendance were negotiated by letters. It argues that different ways of making kinship ties physical could serve as political arguments by producing lines of descendance, confronting competing claims to succession or creating obligations and forms of belonging. The repertoire of embodiments was adapted to specific situations and political contexts, thus showing the importance of historicizing concepts of kinship and the body.