REPORT ON THE WORKSHOP: ‘CEREMONIAL AS A KEY TO UNDERSTAND EARLY MODERN DIPLOMACY‘

Michaela Buriankova

Univerzita Pardubice

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On 14th November a group of historians from different countries gathered in Prague together to discuss the impact of ceremonial on the diplomatic negotiations in Early Modern Europe. This annual workshop was organized as the second one on behalf of the research project ‘Bohemian and Moravian Nobility in the Diplomatic Service of the Austrian Habsburgs (1640-1750)‘. This time the main goal of it was to stimulate discussion about ceremonial procedures on different courts of Europe and to compare the abilities of the ambassadors and envoys to deal with them.

The opening paper presented by Jiri Hrbek introduced one of the greatest ceremonial questions of the diplomatic world: precedence among particular European states, how it changed during the 16th and 17th century and how it varied depending on the different courts.

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After this general introduction, the Italian panel began. Martin Krummholz described parade ceremonies of the imperial ambassadors in Rome around 1700. He explained how they should look like, what was their meaning and he also described the difficulties ambassadors could experience arranging the parades. His aim is to compare the situation in Rome with other European courts, whether this ceremonial tradition existed there. Eva Chodejovska presented printed Rome guides from the 17th century, which were pretty specific for this city because they contained also the local ceremonial rules. Finally, Cecilia Mazzetti di Pietralata described the financial demands of Paolo Savelli’s embassy in 17th century’s Rome. She pointed out general specifics of the imperial embassy led by an ambassador of Italian origin.

Three members of ‘The Spanish Faction Network’ presented their investigations in the afternoon panel. First Martina Bardonova tried to find references to diplomatic ceremonial in the correspondence of Baltasar de Zúñiga, the Spanish ambassador in Prague between 1608 and 1612. Her paper and the following discussion brought up that these reflections appear very sporadically in the letters. These documents usually mentioned only the first audiences and the debatable ceremonial questions. Tibor Martí addressed Hungarian coronation ceremonies from the perspective of Spanish diplomats in 17th century. Finally Laura Oliván Santaliestra accented the role of women in the diplomatic negotiations in the second half of 17th century when the abilities and proper acquaintances of ambassadors´ wives constituted an important and inseparable element of diplomatic work.

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In the final panel, discussion moved to Early Modern Poland. Aleksandra Barwicka – Makula focused her presentation on the Polish-Habsburg peace negotiations ceremony in 1589. Jiří Kubeš, the head of the Habsburg diplomats’ project, concluded the workshop with his paper dealing with the Polish legacy of Herrman Jakob count Tschernin von Chudenitz in 1695. This mission ended up with a big ceremonial fiasco and still we can speak about its satisfactory outcome.

The final debate summarized useful characteristics for ambassador candidates. They varied from case to case, but were mostly based not only on diplomatic abilities (defined in the Early Modern diplomatic manuals) and language skills, but also on his wealth, social position, family relationships and connections, experiences, etc. Apart from this topic, a new possible direction of research in history of diplomacy was mentioned. And thus comparing diplomatic praxis in diverse times to discover patterns repeated throughout history.


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