Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Question from Sarah - Numbers and correspondence of ambassadors

How many ambassadors were at court? I've read about the French, Venetians and Spanish. Were there more and if so does their correspondence still exist and is it translated into modern English?


kb said...

Which court?

As foreign relations changed so did the number of ambassadors at court. For example, by the middle of Elizabeth's reign there was no longer a Spanish ambassador permanently residing in London.

The correspondence for all courts is largely published in the state papers. However, it is not a complete dialogue with parts of the conversation frequently in the 'home' country. The Calendars of State Papers are organized by date. They are printed in English and somewhat modernized depending on the editor of the particular volume.

So for example the Calendar of State Papers Venetian 1553-1554 contains correspondence about events at the English court as observed by the Venetian ambassador during those years - a great source for rumor and gossip although the Venetians were better at verifying their information than most.

There are also Calendars of State Papers for Spain, Ireland, Scotland and then the generic 'Foreign' covering much of the correspondence with France and other countries.

A very strong research library will have them available for reference but not for checking out. Many of these volumes are available through Google Books or the Internet Archive.

Sarah said...

Thanks. I was mainly thinking about Henry VIII's court - I was wondering if there's exciting information hidden in other countries' correspondence

kb said...

Yes there is exciting information about Henry VIII's court in other countries!

A large portion has been published in English in the various Calendars as I mentioned.

The REALLY exciting stuff is probably still lurking uncatalogued, unidentified and un-digitized in archives around Europe.

That's part of the fun of being an historian - the sleuthing.