Skip to main content

‘Furnished with gentlemen’: the ambassador's house in sixteenth-century Italy

Buy Article:

$51.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Abstract:

This article responds to recent calls for a ‘new diplomatic history’ of early modern Europe with an investigation of an important subset of Renaissance diplomatic practices: those related to the house, household and hospitality. It considers the prescriptive sources, including treatises on the office of ambassador by Ermolao Barbaro and √Čtienne Dolet, in light of the practice of a small number of diplomats active in the 1520s and 30s, in particular Gregorio Casali, a well-connected member of a Bolognese patrician family who acted as Henry VIII's resident ambassador at the papal court from 1525 to 1533. The article draws on a range of archive evidence, including diplomatic correspondence, notarial records and trial witness statements, and begins by assessing how diplomats in sixteenth-century Italy understood the house and household, highlighting the symbolic and instrumental functions of sociability. It then turns to some characteristics of diplomatic entertainment, examining attitudes towards splendour and the interplay between the diplomat's official and familial concerns. Third, it asks why the authors of treatises on diplomacy were preoccupied by the proper conduct of members of the ambassador's household, arguing that contemporary conceptions of the household as a microcosm of the polity have a particular resonance in the case of the Renaissance ambassador, a point neglected in recent studies of the treatises on diplomacy.

Keywords: diplomacy; hospitality; house; household; liberality

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1477-4658.2009.00618.x

Affiliations: Birkbeck, University of London

Publication date: 2010-09-01

  • Access Key
  • Free ContentFree content
  • Partial Free ContentPartial Free content
  • New ContentNew content
  • Open Access ContentOpen access content
  • Partial Open Access ContentPartial Open access content
  • Subscribed ContentSubscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed ContentPartial Subscribed content
  • Free Trial ContentFree trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more