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Russia and Courtly Europe
Ritual and the Culture of Diplomacy, 1648–1725


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Part of New Studies in European History

  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107646131

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About the Authors
  • In this book on early modern diplomacy, Jan Hennings explores the relationship between European powers and Russia beyond the conventional East-West divide from the Peace of Westphalia to the reign of Peter the Great. He examines how, at a moment of new departure in both Europe and Russia, the norms shaping diplomatic practice emerged from the complex relations and direct encounters within the world of princely courts rather than from incompatible political cultures. He makes clear the connections between dynastic representation, politics and foreign relations, and shows that Russia, despite its perceived isolation and cultural distinctiveness, participated in the developments and transformations that were taking place more broadly in diplomacy. The central themes of this study are the interlocking manifestations of social hierarchy, monarchical honour and sovereign status in both text and ritual. Related issues of diplomatic customs, institutional structures, personnel, negotiation practice, international law, and the question of cultural transfer also figure prominently.

    • A comparative analysis of Russia-specific discourses and Russian-European diplomatic encounters based on archival materials and published primary sources in several languages, mediating between cultural stereotypes and shared practices of diplomacy
    • Bridges a gap in the new diplomatic history by offering a reinterpretation of Russia's place in early modern international relations and highlighting the transcultural nature of diplomatic practice
    • Breaks out of the conventional 'Russia and the West' paradigm by embedding Russian diplomatic entanglements in wider trends and transformations of diplomacy in the early modern period
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    • Winner, 2017 Early Slavic Studies Association Book Prize

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Forces a reconsideration of long-established assumptions. There have been few more impressive scholarly débuts than this dazzling study.' Hamish Scott, Slavonic and East European Review

    'This impressive debut monograph by Jan Hennings examines Russia's position and activity in the European diplomatic sphere between the Peace of Westphalia and the death of Peter I. … It will be a stimulating and informative work for any scholar who has an interest in early modern history, whether of Europe or Russia, or in diplomacy more generally. On a technical level, the publisher is to be commended for providing high-quality reproductions of images and archival texts, which provide useful illustrations to support the argument.' Paul Keenan, European History Quarterly

    'This cogent book is about more than diplomacy; it gets to the heart of debates about Russia's image and place in Europe.' Nancy Shields Kollmann, Slavic Review

    'Jan Hennings has produced a fascinating and well-researched study of Muscovite and Petrine diplomacy that places Russian foreign policy in the context of European baroque culture. … Russia and Courtly Europe is a superb study that every historian of Muscovite and Imperial Russian history will want to read.' Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter, Canadian-American Slavic Studies

    'Hennings's Russia and Courtly Europe makes a fundamental contribution to the history of diplomacy … Hennings has written a monograph rich in new insights. It is a great example of how the study of symbolic communication can renew diplomatic history.' Damien Tricoire, Kritika

    'Narrow channels of communication, sharply prescribed forms and genres of reporting, and restrictive rules about what diplomats could and could not do in particular situations all lent Muscovite interactions a distinctive flavor, but did not set it far apart from its contemporaries. Hennings manages not only to present this information with verve and clarity, but also to inflect it consistently with his important argument about Russia's participation in a shared field of court ceremony and the high stakes involved in succeeding in that arena … Based on research in archives in Russia, Austria, France, and Britain, using both visual and textual sources, and built on wide-ranging erudition, Russia and Courtly Europe sheds truly new light on a much-studied era.' Valerie Kivelson, Hungarian Historical Review

    'Hennings's vision of Russia as part of a larger continuum of diplomatic practice, rather than as an unusual, curious, peculiar, barbaric outlier, and of the reign of Peter the Great as one of part of an ongoing process of adaptation, is largely convincing.' Alison K. Smith, The Journal of Modern History

    'Apart from Russianists, this book would also prove highly relevant to Ottomanists and scholars of other polities sharing diplomatic relations with European powers.' Darren M. Smith, Diplomatica 2

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107646131
    • length: 309 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 151 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 17 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Notes on transliteration, spelling, and dates
    List of illustrations
    1. Barbarous ceremonies? Russia's places in early modern diplomacy
    2. Facts and fictions: the organisation of diplomatic practice
    3. Through the prism of ritual: Anglo-Russian encounters in the seventeenth century
    4. Stage and audience: the Grand Embassy to Vienna (1698) and Peter I's visit to Paris (1717)
    5. From insult to imperator: changes and continuities in the reign of Peter I

  • Author

    Jan Hennings, Central European University, Budapest
    Jan Hennings is Associate Professor of History at Central European University, Budapest.


    • Winner, 2017 Early Slavic Studies Association Book Prize

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