Orality had an important role in many aspects of early modern experience, and political institutions and counsel are no exceptions. Conversational manners, voice, style of speech, wit, and erudition were all key elements in counselling and for the self-representation of counsellors. Moreover, oral communication was crucial at court and contemporaries aimed to influence and control the distribution of such information to different ends. Scholars have extensively used documentation produced by councils as the basis for minute recreations of political events and administrative changes, but the oral practices of counsel have been largely ignored. This article examines the orality of Habsburg councils and focuses on actual modes of performing counsel. In particular, it reconstructs the complex process of production of written documentation as part of a broader communicative flow and aims to show that notions of style and voice affected the ways in which councils were perceived as instruments for government. Finally, it analyses how conversations were regulated, obstructed, or manipulated and the value attributed to voting procedures, consensus, and dissent within an aristocratic and hierarchical notion of council.
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