Unfolding the Place of Paper in Renaissance Diplomacy and Statecraft
What impact did the late medieval spread of paper have on Eurasian diplomatic practices, ca.1460-1560?
Europe saw a significant shift from largely-oral to largely-written diplomacy ca.1460-1560. This shift is usually ascribed to emerging states’ security concerns. The new reporting practices so pivotal to this early modern diplomatic shift, however, presupposed a contemporaneous development in political communications and political knowledge-management which scholars have long taken for granted: the growing availability of paper. My project traces how this relatively-new material communications technology shaped diplomacy, political communications, and governance in a crucial period of Eurasian political change. Today we take for granted many habits of thinking about, ordering, and using information which have their roots in early modern paper-borne information management. The matter of media mattered in the past, and matters still today.
- “Ad regem: Diplomatic Documents as Artifacts of Early Modern Foreign Policymaking”, in Medieval Documents as Artefacts, 1100-1600, eds. E.C. Dijkhoff, et al. Schrift en Schriftdragers in de Nederlanden in de Middeleeuwen (Hilversum: Verloren, 2020), 189-206.
- “‘…This continuous writing’: The Paper Chancellery of Bernhard Cles”, in Secretaries and Statecraft, ed. Paul Dover (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), 63-89.
- “Unfolding Diplomatic Paper and Paper Practices in Early Modern Chancellery Archives”, in Praktiken der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. Arndt Brendecke. Reihe Frühneuzeit-Impulse (Vienna-Cologne-Weimar: Böhlau / Campus, 2015), 496-508.
- M.K. Williams & Daniël Broersma, eds., Papier Ontvouwd: Groningers en hun papier. Tentoonstelling in het GRID Grafisch Museum Groningen, 17.6.2017-12.31.2017 [Paper Unfolding: Groningers and their Paper] (Leens: Marne, 2017).