Welcome to the Textual Ambassadors Web-gallery. This section of the website will feature examples of our research. Here you will find case studies of the interaction of literary and diplomatic culture as well as discussion of the use and importance of specific ‘textual ambassadors’.
‘To His Grace the Duke of Shrewsbury’ by Matthew Prior (1713)
A poem the diplomat Prior wrote to his diplomatic superior Shrewsbury inside a copy of Montaigne’s Essais that he gave to the duke just after the Peace of Utrecht. The poem highlights diplomatic agency in the international circulation of books, manuscripts and literary news. It also gestures at the role of languages in establishing political communities and negotiating political influence. Click here to view the gallery entry.
In 1653 Queen Christina of Sweden was sent an unusual gift by Oliver Cromwell: a portrait of him bearing Latin verses composed by the celebrated poet Andrew Marvell. This web-exhibit explores the political context for the gift and explains the diplomatic message Cromwell hoped to convey through the interaction of image and text. Click here to view the gallery entry.
The Compleat Ambassador was a collection of letters relating to Queen Elizabeth I’s potential marriage to a French prince, Henry, duke of Anjou, and the negotiations that followed the abandonment of that marriage. It contains letters and other documents dating from between 1569 and 1573 that were written primarily by the English diplomats involved in the negotiations, as well as Elizabeth’s principal secretary, William Cecil Lord Burghley (1520/1-1598). Jason Powell examines the relationship of the printed text to several surviving collections of letters that have much in common with the content of the Compleat Ambassador. Click here to view the gallery entry.
Tracey A. Sowerby
Elizabeth I sent several letters to Ivan IV of Muscovy during her reign. This letter which was one of the earliest Elizabeth sent, was heavily decorated. The letter suggests that material and visual culture were thought important in early modern royal epistolary relationships, even between monarchs who ruled over seemingly different political cultures and who did not have a language in common. The visual decoration told the Russian ruler something about the queen who was writing to him and how she wished to present her own authority. Click here to view the gallery entry.