Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, 1202–1675
Published in 38 volumes between 1864 and 1947, this well-known calendar has been made available and easily searchable by British History Online, a not-for-profit digital library based at the Institute of Historical Research of the University of London; see here. (I bought the last two volumes from an antiquarian bookshop many years ago but these are now merely ornaments in my library.) This sort of calendar is not the kind you hang on the wall! It consists of summaries of original documents. Moreover, the secretaries of the famous Republic who calendared its own official documents, including instructions to and despatches from Venetian ambassadors, did so in a minute way; so much so, that they are in fact packed with detail and barely recognizable as summaries. Sometimes, in any case, the original documents no longer exist. In the first volumes, there are also many valuable extracts from the diary of Marino Sanuto, the senator who became the official annalist of Venice. Although this vast collection relates only to the Republic’s relations with England, the insights it provides into Venetian diplomacy and diplomacy in general in the late Middle Ages and early modern period are priceless. If you are unfamiliar with it, I recommend you start by reading the Preface to the first volume by its editor, Rawdon Brown, who also calendared many documentary discoveries of his own from other Italian sources. The Preface is very long but has many sub-headings, so the passages of no interest can be easily skipped. See also his Four Years at the Court of Henry VIII. Selection of Despatches written by the Venetian Ambassador, Sebastian Giustinian, and addressed to the Signory of Venice, January 12th 1515, to July 26th 1519, in 2 volumes (London, 1854) – available in the ‘Internet Archive’.
Almanach de Gotha. An annual publication which classified and listed – and thereby authenticated – the members of the ruling dynasties and high nobility, initially only of Europe but later of the whole world. It was first published at Gotha in the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha in 1763 and soon acquired great prestige. It survived in its classic form until its archives were destroyed during the Second World War. Today it tends to be held in contempt for the values it supported but it is a most useful resource for historians of diplomacy. This is because at the beginning of the nineteenth century it became customary to add to the Almanach the names of the ambassadors and ministers of the great powers and it later acquired a ‘diplomatic and statistical’ section. In 1882 the Almanach began to publish a supplement called the Annuaire diplomatique et consulaire des états des deux mondes. This contained the diplomatic service lists as well as diplomatic lists of all states in the ‘new world’ as well as the ‘old’, included the names of junior as well as senior diplomats and consuls (all alphabetically indexed) and coloured plates of national flags to assist the shipping work of consuls in seaports. These supplements were unique but – partly because of the difficulty of trying to keep up with the constant turnover of diplomatic staff – turned out to be over-ambitious. Only three of them appeared and the project was discontinued after 1884. However, the diplomatic (and consular) lists in the main almanac continued to provide a considerable amount of valuable detail. Moreover, many of them can be easily accessed on the Internet. The Gallica site has 79 issues, starting with that of 1821, while the Internet Archive has 39, starting with that of 1827.
Etymology of ‘Diplomacy’. This account by Michael Quinion of the origins and shifts in meaning of the word ‘diplomacy’ is by far the best that I have come across on the Internet.
Important archives in the UK
For those doing work on a dissertation or doctoral thesis, the following are among the many British archive centres that may prove particularly useful:
- The National Archives, Kew, London. Note that The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) provides some very good research guidance to its document holdings by category. You can find these here. ‘Diplomacy’ in the ‘D’s is not, however, a comprehensive list of subjects of interest to us. Look for ‘Propaganda’ for example under … er … ‘P’.
- Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College Cambridge
- St. Antony’s College Middle East Centre
- County Council Archives. Most if not all UK counties have their own archives (or ‘record offices’), many containing the private papers of nationally important figures, including diplomats, who happened to be native to them. Many are well catalogued, freely accessible to the public (normally by prior appointment), and pleasant places in which to work; for example, the Norfolk Record Office .