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Cultures of Diplomacy and Literary Writing in the Early Modern World$
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Tracey A. Sowerby and Joanna Craigwood

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198835691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198835691.001.0001

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Diplomatic Knowledge on Display

Diplomatic Knowledge on Display

Foreign Affairs in the Early Modern English Public Sphere

(p.146) 9 Diplomatic Knowledge on Display
Cultures of Diplomacy and Literary Writing in the Early Modern World

András Kiséry

Oxford University Press

Accounts of the early modern public sphere are characteristically focused on its critical, political functions—imagining it as a sphere of agonistic performativity, of rational-critical debate, or of public opinion being shaped in an effort to generate political pressure, for example. Politics in all these contexts is understood as an engagement with matters of common concern: what is public and what is political are not only inseparable but also close to being synonymous notions. But parallel with the rise of the early modern public sphere(s) and of the political universe implied by it, politics, political activity also began to emerge as a career path: statecraft, an avenue of political mobility through employment and office, which presupposed a body of knowledge, a competence acquired through training, rather than a mere entitlement by birth. This chapter explores the consequences of this development for diplomacy. From the late sixteenth century onwards, information about foreign polities—including both diplomatic writing and political news from abroad—was entering public circulation in manuscript as well as in print. Plays performed on the public stage were also clearly interested in foreign political developments. Such diplomatic knowledge in public circulation is best understood as a form of cultural capital, whose value is partly constituted by its association with activities and competences that were of considerable social prestige, and partly by the restrictions on its circulation.

Keywords:   reason of state, public sphere, professions, drama, expert knowledge

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