Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

‘REPRESENTING’ AFRICA: AMBASSADORS AND PRINCES FROM CHRISTIAN AFRICA TO RENAISSANCE ITALY AND PORTUGAL, 1402–1608*

Abstract
Abstract

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a number of sub-Saharan envoys and ambassadors from Christian countries, predominantly Ethiopia and the Congo, were sent to Portugal and Italy. This essay shows how cultural assumptions on both sides complicated their task of ‘representing’ Africa. These African ambassadors and princes represented the interests of their rulers or their countries in a variety of ways, from forging personal relationships with the king or pope, to providing knowledge of the African continent and African societies, to acquiring knowledge of European languages and behaviours, to negotiating about war, to petitioning for religious or technological help, to carrying out fact-finding missions. But Renaissance preconceptions of Africa and Africans, reinforced by the slave trade, and Renaissance and papal assumptions about diplomatic interaction, ensured that the encounters remained unsatisfactory, as this cultural history of diplomacy makes clear. The focus of the essay is on religious and cultural exchange and the ceremonial culture of embassies.

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Michael Mallett , ‘Ambassadors and their Audiences in Renaissance Italy’, Renaissance Studies, 8 (1994), 229–43 at 229–30

Jeremy Lawrance , ‘The Middle Indies: Damião de Góis on Prester John and the Ethiopians’, Renaissance Studies, 6, 34 (1992)

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
  • ISSN: 0080-4401
  • EISSN: 1474-0648
  • URL: /core/journals/transactions-of-the-royal-historical-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×