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  • Cited by 5
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

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    Lowe, Kate 2013. Visible Lives: Black Gondoliers and Other Black Africans in Renaissance Venice*. Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 66, Issue. 2, p. 412.

    Lowe, Kate 2012. The Global Consequences of Mistranslation: The Adoption of the “Black but …” Formulation in Europe, 1440–1650. Religions, Vol. 3, Issue. 4, p. 544.

    De Lorenzi, James 2010. World-Building and the Early Modern Imagination.

    Tuite, Patrick 2010. World-Building and the Early Modern Imagination.

  • Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Volume 17
  • 2007, pp. 101-128



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.

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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)

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Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
  • ISSN: 0080-4401
  • EISSN: 1474-0648
  • URL: /core/journals/transactions-of-the-royal-historical-society
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