Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New paths of diplomatic history

Examining early modern courts sheds light on common European trends, including the importance of networking and the creation of lobbies in political systems still prevalent today.
New paths of diplomatic history
Political uncertainty is a common topic in many current democracies. How lobbies and interest groups are shaping politics is worth examining. What are the underlying mechanisms and motivations steering representative systems? Looking at early modern courts is one step toward finding answers.

In light of this, the EU-funded project CSPIC (The birth of diplomacy through factions at power: The Catholic-Spanish Party in the Imperial Court (1556-1659)) conducted a case study of the Imperial Court of Vienna/Prague between the16th and 17th centuries. This was a time when emperors were considered weak and were significantly influenced by the kings of Spain, relatives of theirs and popes.

Material used for analysis was obtained through European repositories, the Vatican in particular, as well as from Simancas, Vienna, London and Florence. In conducting a detailed analysis, a micropolitical methodology was employed rather than the usual court studies perspective. This was based on an actor-centred, social network analysis.

As a result, new conclusions have been formed based on the tentative hypotheses. Rather than containing an organised Catholic-Spanish faction, the Imperial Court was comprised of the patronage of the King of Spain and the attention of the Pope. The Spanish diplomacy is shown to be more intense and detailed than that of the Papal. Its success is a result of a radical and dynastic means and organised according to complex rules that were beyond pro or contra Spanish/Catholic in nature.

In order to capture the subtleties, the research maintained a multilayered version of the parties involved, which has been recorded in the project's database. The results have been presented at conferences and in publications.

The work is not only limited to the central European court and therefore is useful both for policymakers and the general public concerned with political participation and lobby creation. It can greatly contribute to current discussions on translational models of elite circulation.

Related information


Lobbies, political systems, politics, diplomacy, Catholic-Spanish party, Imperial Court
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