Seventeenth-century diplomacy was a very visual form of politics and luxury consumption was integral to its conduct. English diplomats abroad were exposed to the very highest levels of expenditure on architecture and the arts by foreign monarchs; this book seeks to look beyond the public displays and to ascertain whether the ambassadors’ own lives were affected by the conspicuous consumption with which they were surrounded. A marked similarity between the evolution of diplomatic theory and the evolution of a diplomat’s material world is revealed. The extent to which diplomats acted as conduits for objects, paintings, artists, and craftsmen is demonstrated, and how their experiences abroad impacted on their subsequent consumption and patronage. Conspicuous consumption of foreign luxury goods is posited firmly in the political sphere.
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