(image source: brill)
A Multitude of Actors in Early Modern Diplomacy (Brigit Tremml-Werner & Dorothée Goetze)
This special issue has been motivated by the drive to contextualize the role of individuals of various backgrounds in early modern foreign relations. All contributions cover a broad geographic scope and stress the impact of non-European practices and stages for the study of early modern foreign relations. Four thematic articles follow diverse diplomatic actors, ranging from non-elite envoys to chartered companies, Catholic friars and ministers on ships, to foreign courts, and behind their desks. They provide insights into these individual actors’ functions and achievements and raise questions about social belonging and knowledge channels. The introduction below portrays the development of an actor-oriented research angle in the field of New Diplomatic History over the past decades and addresses blurring concepts and over-generalizations. It attempts to redefine the heterogeneous group of early modern diplomatic actors as products of their involvement in political and material struggles, both at home and abroad.
Mixed Company in the Contact Zone: the “Glocal” Diplomatic Efforts of a Prussian East Indiaman in 1750s Cape Verde (Felicia Gottmann)
This article takes a micro-historical actor-centered approach to study the encounter between the officers of a Prussian East India Company Ship and local elites in 1750s Praia, Cape Verde. Combining recent advances in New Diplomatic History and in Company Studies with insights from the study of Contact Zones and transculturation, it analyzes the diplomatic strategies marginalized and hybrid players could adopt to project themselves onto the early modern global stage and locally counterbalance the hegemonic Northern European Atlantic powers. It thus proposes an alternative model of nonprofessional diplomatic interaction in the early modern period.
Three Manila-Fujian Diplomatic Encounters: Different Aims and Different Embassies in the Seventeenth Century (Anna Busquets)
During the second half of the seventeenth century, there were at least three embassies between the Spaniards of Manila and the Fujian based Zheng regime. The first embassy took place in 1656 ordered by the Spanish governor in Manila. The ambassadors were two captains of the city, and its aim was to re-establish trade relations, which had been severed many months before. In response, Zheng Chenggong sent his cousin to the Philippine islands to settle several business arrangements regarding Fujianese trade. In 1662, Zheng Chenggong took the initiative of sending the Dominican Victorio Riccio, who worked as missionary in the Catholic mission at Xiamen, as emissary to the Governor of the Philippines, don Sabiniano Manrique de Lara. The third embassy took place in 1663. Thereupon, Zheng Jing, Zheng Chenggong’s successor, sent Riccio to Manila for signing a peace pact and for re-establishing trade. The three embassies were related to the Zheng’s purpose of gaining economic and political supremacy over the Philippines and the South China Seas. In all three cases, the actors, the diplomatic correspondence, the material aspects and the results differed profoundly. The article analyzes the role of individuals as intermediaries and translators while considering the social and cultural effects that these embassies had on the Sino-Spanish relations in Manila.
Dutch-Portuguese Diplomatic Encounters, 1640-1703: Exchanges, Sovereignty and “World Peace” (Cátia Antunes)
This article traces the multiplex relationships established between Portuguese ambassadors, consuls and extraordinary envoys in the Dutch Republic between 1640 and 1703 with the Portuguese kingdom, the king, the Portuguese “Nation” in Amsterdam and the Dutch States General. In negotiating multiple contracts and treaties regarding “world peace,” these men determined the course of history not so much because they were bound by the service of a state or a king but rather because they served a multiplicity of interests that often damaged national interest in favor of specific interest groups. The article focuses particularly on the Dutch-Portuguese clashes in Western Africa and Brazil and how their settlements impacted the Dutch-Portuguese power sharing in Asia, ultimately challenging premises of sovereignty at a global scale.
Sweden’s Early-Modern Neutrality: Neutral Vessels, Prize Cases and Diplomatic Actors in London in the Late Eighteenth Century (Leos Müller)
Early modern shipping under neutral flags was an activity that required many capacities, combining practices from three different fields: commerce and shipping, diplomacy, and international law. This complexity of neutral shipping is the reason why traditional diplomatic history paid limited attention to it, despite the fact that shipping and prize cases consumed much of the attention and time of diplomats of neutral nations. The neutral agents had to be able to understand, communicate and move between all three fields. This article studies seizures of Swedish neutral vessels by British privateers and the Royal Navy between 1770 and 1800, including the years of the War of American Independence and the French Revolutionary Wars. It provides examples of how exchanges between different field actors—e.g. shipmasters, ship-owners, merchants, agents, lawyers, naval officers and diplomats—were communicated and understood from the perspective of Sweden’s representatives in London.(read more here)