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Secretaries and Statecraft in the Early Modern World

Edited by Paul M. Dover

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An illuminating exploration of the role played by state secretaries in shaping inter-state relations in early modern Eurasia

One of the prominent themes of the political history of the 16th and 17th centuries is the waxing influence officials in the exercise of state power, particularly in international relations, as it became impossible for monarchs to stay on top of the increasingly complex demands of ruling.

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About the Contributors

1. Introduction: the Age of Secretaries
Paul M. Dover

2. Records, Politics and Diplomacy: Secretaries and Chanceries in Renaissance Italy (1350-1520 ca.)
Isabella Lazzarini

3. Mercurino di Gattinara (1465-1530): Imperial Chancellor, Strategist of Empire
Rebecca Ard Boone

4. ‘This continuous writing’: the Paper Chancellery of Berhard Cles,
Megan K. Williams

5. Parables and Dark Sentences: the Correspondence of Sir William Cecil and William Maitland, 1559-1573
Rayne Allinson

5. Axel Oxenstierna and Swedish Diplomacy in the Seventeenth Century
Erik Thomson

6. Statecraft and the Role of the Diplomat in Ducal Savoy: the Career of Alessandro Scaglia (1592-1641)
Toby Osborne

7. Richelieu, Mazarin and Italy, 1635-1659: Statesmanship in Context
David Parrott

8. The Learned Ideal of the Mughal Wazīr: the Life and Intellectual World of Prime Minister Afzal Khan Shirazi (d. 1639)
Raveev Kinra

9. Reconsidering State and Constituency in Seventeenth-Century Safavid Iran: the Wax and Wane of the Munshi
Colin Mitchell

10. Choreographers of Power: Grigorii Kotoshikhin, State Secretaries, and the Muscovite Royal Wedding Ritual
Russell E. Martin

11. Eberhard von Danckelman and Brandenburg’s Foreign Policy, 1699-1697
Daniel Riches

12. Chancellor of State: Prince Wenzel Anton Kaunitz, the Habsburg Foreign Office and Foreign Policy in the Era of Enlightened Absolutism
Franz A.J. Szabo


About the Author

Paul Dover is Associate Professor of History at Kennesaw State University. He has published widely on the political, diplomatic and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe.


New governing institutions made the early modern centuries an age of secretaries and ministers as well as rulers. This impressive, wide-ranging and notably well edited collection of essays by leading specialists, rescues this key development from previous neglect and will be essential reading for anyone who teaches or studies this period.

- Hamish Scott, University of Glasgow

Secretaries and Statecraft in the Early Modern World convincingly demonstrates the complexity of diplomatic action, the power of bureaucrats, and the challenges of the information explosion between the later fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. It embraces global history to show that the approaches and even some of the conclusions of the 'new diplomatic history' are applicable beyond the European continent. Additionally, each essay is carefully constructed, thoughtful, and convincing, while the book’s focus remains consistent throughout.

- Brian Jeffrey Maxson, East Tennessee State University, Journal of Early Modern History

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