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Imperial Ambassadresses between the Courts of Madrid and Vienna (1650-1700): Diplomacy, Sociability and Culture

Final Report Summary - AMBASSADRESSES (Imperial Ambassadresses between the Courts of Madrid and Vienna (1650-1700): Diplomacy, Sociability and Culture.)

The Ambassadresses project has been carried out with great enthusiasm, excitement and a lot of work.

The main aim was to show that ambassador’s wives, called “ambassadresses” in the 17th century, wielded power in diplomatic affairs and that this was the norm, not the exception, in the courts of Europe. Some of the secondary purposes of my project included: analysing the ways in which the ambassadresses conducted this diplomacy; defining the concept of “ambassadress” in the modern age; determining whether there was a gender-specific diplomacy; explaining how the ambassadresses wielded this power in diplomacy; studying the strategies of working in collaboration with their husbands; analysing their social and cultural worlds (where they socialised or the material and bodily culture); establishing to what extent their diplomatic activity was recognised and discussed among courtiers; detailing any relations of friendship with the queen consort and regent; also interpreting the impact of that their political experience as ambassadresses had on their later lives at court. The ambassadresses studied were those from the Holy Roman Empire to Madrid in the second half of the 17th century.

Carrying out the project
I have carried out my project revisiting sources catalogued as diplomatic, but also other sources considered non diplomatic and very useful for my project: images, portraits, furniture, paintings, jewels, dresses, plans, recipes, personal correspondences, diaries, memories, perfumes, inventories, plays and novels; I have also used new methodologies and I have applied a perspective of gender in my research. In order to achieve my objectives I have worked in the following archives, libraries and museums: In Vienna (Austria); archives: Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv and Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv; museums: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Hofmobiliendepot, Theatermuseum, Wien Museum; libraries: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; in Lower Austria: Niederösterreichisches Landesarchiv (St. Pölten), Library of the Trinitarier-Kloster (Mödling) and Harrach Collections (Rohrau); (Upper Austria): Oberösterreichisches Landesarchiv; in Salzburg (Salzburg): Salzburger Landesarchiv (copies); in Innsbruck (The Tyrol): Tiroler Landesarchiv; in Brno (Czech Republic): Moravský zemský archiv, Rodinný archiv Ditrichštejnů, in Nelahozeves (Czech Republic): Nelahozeves library (Lobkowicz family); in Terezín (Czech Republic): Library of the Countess of Harrach; in Prague (Czech Republic): Lobkowicz collection; in University of Yale (EEUU): Harrach documents (copies).
Researchers of different disciplines (historians, art historians, curators, librarians, archivist, philologist) have given me advice and helped me to develop my project: historians as Katrin Keller (University of Vienna), Alexander Sperl (University of Vienna), Suna Suner (Don Juan Archiv, Vienna), Hans Ernst Weidinger (Don Juan Archiv, Vienna), Elke Meyer (Archives Assistant at IAEA), Bianca Lindorfer (University of Vienna), Andreas Hutterer (University of Vienna), Thomas Wallnig (University of Vienna), Rocío Martínez (Learning Distance University of Madrid), Petr Mat’a (University of Vienna), Jiri Kubes (University of Pardubice), Pavel Marek (University of Pardubice), Mikaela Burianková (University of Pardubice), Silvia Mitchell (Purdue University), Magdalena Sánchez (Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania), Luis Tercero Casado (University of Vienna), Tibor Martí (University of Budapest), Lothar Höbelt (University of Vienna), Tracey Sowerby (University of Oxford), Renate Schreiber (University of Vienna), Pablo Hernández Sau (European University Institute of Florence), Mercedes Llorente (University of Lisbon), Laura Mesotten (European University Institute of Florence), Conchi Gutiérrez (Learning Distance University of Madrid), Camille Desenclos (University of Upper Alsace), Ekaterina Domnina (Moscow State Lomonosov University), Anna Lisa Biagianti (University of Pisa), John Condren (University of Limerick), Anne Marie Jordan (University of Lisbon), Vanessa de Cruz Medina (Independent Researcher, EEUU), Ernesto Oyarbide (University of Oxford), Bram van Leuveren (University of Saint Andrews), Diana Carrió (Learning Distance University of Madrid), Bernardo García (Complutensian University/Fundación Carlos de Amberes), César Esponda (Leuven University), Alejandra Franganillo (Escuela Española, Rome), Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio, Rubén González Cuerva (Autónoma University of Madrid), Antonio Terrasa Lozano (University of Évora, Portugal), Pedro Cardim (University of Lisbon), Roberta Anderson (Bath Spa University), Silvia Evangelisti (University of East Anglia), Gustav Janu (independent researcher, Vienna), with historians of music: José María Domínguez (University of La Rioja); archivists: Pia Wallnig (Viennese Archives), Susanne Claudine Pils (Viennese Archives), Radim Němeček (Bohemian Archives), Ulrike Engelsberger (Archives of Salzburg) and Bruno Rupp (Archives of Linz); historians of theatre: Andrea Sommer-Mathis (Institut für Kulturwissenschaften und Theatergeschichte), Suna Suner (Don Juan Archiv, Vienna), Reinhard Eisendle (DJA), Mathias J. Pernerstorfer (DJA); Spanish philologists: Wolfram Aichinger (University of Vienna), Max Doppelbauer (University of Vienna), Simon Kroll (University of Vienna), Paula Casariego (University of Santiago, Spain), Romina Irene Palacios (University of Vienna), Christian Stanhartinger (University of Vienna), Robert Archer (King’s Collegue London), Silvia Freudenthaler (Don Juan Archiv), Ann Cruz (Miami University, EEUU) and Christofer F. Laferl (University of Salzburg); art historians: Martina Pippal (University of Vienna), Thierry Greub (University of Basel, Switzerland), Krystyna Greub (University of Basel), David García Cueto (University of Granada) and Petra Schönfelder (University of Vienna); curators of museums: Gudrun Swodowa (Kunsthistorisches Museum), Mario Döberl (KHM) and Julia Häussler (KHM); curators of libraries and archives: Jaroslava Kasparová (National Library of Prague), Sona Cernocká (Lobkowicz library); and, the Paters Matthias Schlögl (Augustiner Kirche Wien) and Alfred Zainzinger (Trinitarier Wien). I would like to specially thank Dr. Lucas Zinner (head of the Center for Doctoral Studies and the Research Services and Career Development of the University of Vienna), and Amy Radlberger (born Williams) for all their support, guidance and help at the end of my project.

The main finding from the research showed that ambassadresses from the Holy Roman Empire to Madrid exercised diplomatic, social, cultural and ceremonial power during their husband’s missions. Other conclusions included: working in collaboration with their husbands was the main strategy used by the ambassadresses, but they also engaged with the social and cultural customs of the court where the mission took place. Furthermore, they forged political and personal relationships with the queen, the ladies of their court circle, other wives of ministers and ambassadors, and with men (ministers, aristocrats, spies, ambassadors, secretaries and men of the church), in order to expand the power of their husbands, the ambassadors. Similarly, the ambassadresses’ political activities during their husbands’ embassies helped the idea of “ambassadress” to develop and evolve in the 17th century: the concept of ambassadress aroused in the 16th century and was consolidated at the start of the 18th in Europe. It can thus be said that the 17th century was the Golden Age for the "ambassadresses".
Ambassadresses from the Holy Roman Empire to Madrid in the second half of the 17th century used the ceremonial as a political instrument and a propaganda weapon, and were at the centre of fights over precedence, that proved the extent of their power in the embassy as representatives of the Holy Roman Empire. By comparing theories (discourses) and practices (actions), I have concluded that the ambassadresses changed the traditional idea of fidelity and virtue toward their husbands into a concept that had a political bias. Gender was something always present in the ambassadresses’ political activities, but it was never a determining factor. Since gender was very flexible in court circles, it was moulded to suit the role of ambassadress or wife, depending on the circumstances and the context.
This adaptability of gender allowed ambassadresses to act as diplomats, which is not to say that gender did not impose limits in court life: the ambassadresses from the Holy Roman Empire tried not to display their diplomatic power overtly so as not to damage their husband’s honour, and to prevent being accused of attempting to usurp their spouse’s mission. Their strategy for justifying their political activity without awakening suspicions was to emphasise their role as married women, for example, by saying that the ambassadors, their husbands, should confide the secrets of the embassy to their faithful and virtuous wives. By manipulating the rules of behaviour within marriage, the ambassadresses obtained great power, strengthened their diplomatic mission (and, therefore, that of their husbands), and lowered the "glass ceiling" below the limits imposed by gender in the court, without raising criticism or rejection from the courtiers most opposed to public demonstrations of diplomatic power by the wives of ambassadors. In the cases studied, the ambassadress carried out diplomacy carefully in order to avoid conflicts of gender that could undermine the reputation of her husband as ambassador, accepting that diplomatic couples were within the realms of the private and secret, even though it was for her a deeply politicized realm that she could exploit with due reservation and assurances at the right moments.
The documentation also shows that diplomatic couples shared out tasks and worked together. The ambassadress also had her own responsibilities, such as providing her husband with information, keeping the secrets of the embassy, creating a social network in parallel to that of the ambassador (which in turn underpinned his power network) and maintaining a good relationship with the queen on a personal, ceremonial and political level. A word about the channels or mechanisms for exercising diplomacy: both men and women used similar mechanisms such as mixing in society, visits, sending letters, conversations in the palace corridors or exchanging gifts. However, there was definitely a male and a female way of visiting, conversing and socialising. When putting these tactics into practice, differences between the genders were notable, and so in this other respect, I can talk about a gender-specific diplomacy. Each particular case has to be analysed before deciding whether gender influenced a diplomatic negotiation and to what extent.
On the other hand, the conclusion is that ambassadresses forged powerful cultural exchange networks. Ambassadresses from the Holy Roman Empire were agents in spreading Spanish culture in the Viennese court. During their time in Madrid, they displayed a great ability to learn the court culture (the language, taste in plays and theatre, devotion to the Virgins of Madrid, female social mores, drinking chocolate, collecting special clay pots, using perfumes and Spanish dresses). Ambassadresses from the Holy Roman Empire not only adapted Spanish culture, but also reinterpreted it and mixed it with their own to create a combined, dual culture that they could use in diplomacy and strategy at the Madrid court. On return to the Viennese court, they promoted, disseminated and capitalised on their particular cultural hybrid politically and socially. In this cultural exchange, the ambassadresses helped to change the ways of observing, experimenting and feeling the culture of the Baroque era and opened the way for new forms of culture which flourished in the 18th century, such as privacy, socialising in the 18th-century style and domesticity. In short, ambassadresses played an active part in the cultural transformations undergone at the turn of the century, from the Baroque to the Enlightenment. From a political point of view, on returning to their home courts the Empire’s ambassadresses continued to exert influence. They became ex-ambassadresses, maintained a wide network of correspondents, and their social and political experience was highly valued at the imperial court of Vienna. Some of their children were appointed ambassadors. Ex-ambassadresses who were also mothers gave their children a great deal of advice on diplomacy and politics, giving rise to the “diplomacy of motherhood", a new female way of conducting diplomacy in the modern age.
My project has proved that women were fundamental players in European diplomacy in the modern age. They were first recognised as being diplomatic agents in the 17th century, more specifically in the second half, when permanent embassies became widespread in Europe. Ambassadors’ wives were eventually recognised as an essential part of the embassy at the beginning of the 18th century.
With their powerful personality and particular way of understanding their work in their husband's embassy, the ambassadresses studied in my project were decisive in gaining Europe-wide recognition of the role of women in diplomacy. Likewise, the political work carried out by these women was decisive in developing and consolidating the concept of “ambassadress”, which went from being simply the ambassador’s wife at the beginning of the 17th century, to being the “ambassador’s wife with diplomatic responsibilities” at the start of the 18th. The concept of "ambassadress" could, to a large extent, be attributed to those from the Holy Roman Empire to Madrid in the second half of the 17th century. These days, the Spanish Royal Academy defines "ambassadress" as the woman “with the highest rank in the diplomatic service, the representative of the appointing country to other countries”.
Ambassadresses from the Holy Roman Empire to Spain in the second half of the 17th century took an active part in the transformation of diplomacy in the courts of the Early Modern Age, and are an excellent example to understand the role of women in the diplomatic history of Europe.

Personal and socio-economic impact
Thanks to the project Ambassadresses, I have established links with other countries: I have reinforced my links with the Czech Republic; I met Jiri Kubes and Mikaela Burianková in Vienna. Jiri Kubes invited me to an international workshop in Prague. In Vienna, we talked about diplomacy in Early Modern Europe, I informed them about the Premodern Diplomats Network, their team of the University of Pardubice presented papers in the Splendid Encounter IV of the Premodern Diplomat Network celebrated in Budapest, and the relationship between this team of the Czech Republic and the Premodern Diplomats Network was so fruitful that now, Jiri Kubes is organizing the next Splendid Encounter V in Prague. In this Encounter, the Austrian philologists Wolfram Aichinger, Simon Kroll, Christian Stanhartinger (and I) have organized a panel composed of two Spanish historians: Conchi Gutierrez (UNED) and Bernardo García (Complutensian University/Fundación Carlos de Amberes) and a German researcher: Julia Gebke, who is part of the project: Diplomacy in Conflict at the University of Vienna.
In Prague, I met the librarian and historian Jaroslava Kasparová (recommended by the philologist Robert Archer) and I introduced her Paula Casariego, a Spanish philologist (University of Santiago, Spain). Also, in the Czech Republic, I have reinforced my relationship with the reputed researcher Pavel Marek. Pavel Marek invited me to participate in the panel: "Los diplomaticos entre las cortes de Madrid y Viena ante los cambios de Europa depués de la paz de Westfalia", which he organized for the Congress: "¿Decadencia o Reconfiguración? Las monarquías de España y Portugal en el cambio de siglos 1640-1724)", organized by Rubén González Cuerva y José Martínez Millán at the Autonoma University of Madrid (IULCE, Instituto: La Corte en Europa). In this congress, I presented the paper: "Los Mansfeld, los Lobkowicz y los Harrach ante la cuestión sucesoria (1683-1700)" (I refered to the Countess of Mansfeld and her husband, the Countess of Lobkowicz and her husband and the countess of Harrach and her husband and their diplomatic activity in the Question of the Spanish Succession). In my panel also participated: Jiri Kubes (University of Pardubice) and Ivo Cerman (University of South Bohemia). In this congress I spoke with my Spanish colleagues about the project team of Jiri Kubes and about the Splendid Encounter V in Prague in September 2016. I invited Pavel Marek (with Katrin Keller, Andrea Sommer-Mathis and Bernardo García) to present a paper in the International Workshop: "In Their Own Hand: Personal Letters in Habsburg Dynastic Networks", which I co-organized with Katrin Keller, Andrea Sommer-Mathis and Bernardo García. Pavel Marek presented the paper titled: "Pernstein Women of Prague, Vienna and Madrid". I have a good relationship with Mikaela Burianková (University of Pardubice), who is preparing a doctoral thesis about Wenzel Ferdinand Lobkowicz under the supervision of Jiri Kubes. Jiri Kubes has invited me to participate in the monographic of a peer review journal published in the Czech Republic. Also, I have to mention the researcher Petr Mat'a, who is working at the University of Vienna; he has given me very good advices for my project.
Of course, I maintain a good relationship with the University of Vienna and other Viennese institutions: Friedrich Edelmayer (the scientific in charge of this project), Katrin Keller (University of Vienna) and Andrea Sommer-Mathis (Institut für Kulturwissenschaften und Theatergeschichte), Gudrun Swodoba (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and Martina Pippal (Institut für Kunstgeschichte). My friend Alesander Sperl (University of Vienna, project Film and History) has supported me, given me many advices about archives, sources, films... he has helped me a lot, I am very grateful to him. I have also collaborated and maintained conversations with Wolfram Aichinger, another good friend, who conducts the project: "Secrets and Secrecy in Calderón’s Comedies and in Spanish Golden Age Culture". He is organizing a colloquium at the Prado Museum and I will participate in it. At the Department of History at the University of Vienna, I have also maintained contact with Julia Gebke, Lars-Dieter Leiser and Stephan Mai, all of them are working in the research project: "Diplomacy in Conflict" conducted by Dorothea Nolde (University of Vienna).
In Vienna, I have intensively collaborated with the Don Juan Archiv founded by Hans Ernst Weidinger. There I have co-organised a symposium with Suna Suner, Matthias J. Pernerstorfer, Reinhard Eisendle (Don Juan Archiv Wien), Hans Ernst Weidinger (Studium faesulanum) and Marcel Molnár. To this research talk, there, we invited Hungarian researchers interested in the Diplomacy of the Ottoman Empire in Hungary: Sándor Papp (University of Szeged). Gábor Kármán (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest), Zsuzsanna Cziráki (University of Szeged). In Prague, in the seminar organized by Jiri Kubes, I met another Hungarian researcher: Tibor Martí (University of Budapest), who I hope to collaborate in the future. Therefore, my project Ambassadress has allowed me to contact with Hungarian researchers. And also, I have established contact with Turkey through the Don Juan Archiv. Suna Suner is Turkish and the Don Juan Archiv has research projects about "Diplomacy and Ottoman Empire in Early Modern World". The Don Juan Archiv cooperates with the Pera Museum and the Austria Cultural Forum in Istanbul. To the Symposium: "Gender and Diplomacy: Women and Men in European and Ottoman Embassies from 15th to 18th Centuries", in which I collaborated as organizer with Suna Suner and Reinhard Reisendle, the Don Juan Archiv invited Turkish researchers as Osman Nihat Bisgin (Turkish Grand National Assembly). In this symposium "Gender and Diplomacy", we gathered researchers from different countries: Turkey, France, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom. I continue my relationship with the Don Juan Archiv because I have been invited to the next symposium about Theatre and Diplomacy that they organize in November 2016.
I have also tried to connect Spanish researchers with Austria: I invited Rocío Martínez to participate in the Workshop "Personal Letters" and I invited José María Domínguez, David García Cueto and also Rocío Martínez to the Symposium "Gender and Diplomacy" celebrated in The Don Juan Archiv in March 2016. And I have informed my Spanish colleagues about all the activities and researches done in Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
And finally, I have reinforced the links between Austria and EEUU: I invited Silvia Mitchell to the symposium: "Personal Letters". It was the first time that Silvia Mitchell came to Vienna; she met Lothar Höbelt, Katrin Keller, Bernardo García and other researchers who enriched her research. To this symposium came also Magdalena Sánchez (Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania).
To sum up: the project "Ambassadresses" has connected researchers from Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain and Turkey.
Aside these relationships, I would like to highlight other ways in which the project "Ambassadresses" has contributed to European excellence and competitiveness. I refer primarily to the social, political and cultural excellence and competitiveness which the results of this project dedicated to the history of Europe have tried to promote. The project "Ambassadrasses" has analysed collaboration, political negotiation and interculturality in Europe. The culture of peace has a history which has been explored in this project, as diplomacy has been and must continue to be one of Europe’s grand driving forces. On the other hand, the project "Ambassadresses" has enhanced the study of gender: studying the role of women and men in the past allow us to redefine the role of male and female citizens of modern-day Europe. This social reflection is indispensable in the building of a competitive Europe, whose excellence is based on an egalitarian, free and democratic society. We cannot consider history without gender; nor can we think about European society without gender. Approaching history from a perspective of gender allows us to reconstruct this history, and to offer it to society as a valuable instrument of social transformation in the present.
This project has aimed to empower the social sciences and humanities, and to demonstrate their capacity to contribute to development, science and innovation which, in short, are the foundations of growth. The humanities help us to create a Europe which is intellectually and socially stronger, and more culturally competitive: a Europe capable of successfully facing the social and economic challenges of the future.
We must never forget that science is culture, and that without culture there is no science. Science is carried out by culturally defined human beings, “human” beings who without humanity or without “humanities” could not be described as such. Europe requires a type of growth which comes accompanied by a social and cultural ethic, which only the humanities and the social sciences can provide.
Thanks to this IEF Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow, I have obtained the postdoctoral contract "Ramón y Cajal" (Ministry of Economy and Competitiviness of Spain, Secretary of Research, Development and Innovation) for five years at the Department of Early Modern History of the University of Granada. Therefore, I am very grateful to the Marie Curie Actions for this great opportunity. Now I have a research career in Spain, I have fulfilled my dream. Thank you very much.

Laura Oliván Santaliestra.
Early Modern History Department, University of Granada.án