The Preparation of Embassies and the Protocols Followed by Royal Portuguese Ambassadors in the Late Middle Ages

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Abstract:
Diplomatic correspondence and the information transmitted through letters of instruction, which gave diplomats the necessary support for the performance of their duties, have become a highly important subject in the study of medieval diplomacy. In documents of this type, we can find some quite remarkable and valuable information about what could or could not be said in diplomatic contexts, outlining the rituals, attitudes, and procedures that a diplomat was required to adopt in the course of his international mission. Together with the letters of instruction, diplomats also carried with them letters of credence (commonly known as credentials). These were the documents that the various monarchs gave to their legitimate representatives, and which were designed to be presented at the courts visited by each diplomatic mission. These letters were essential for guaranteeing the correct conduct of negotiations, since, besides presenting the diplomats and expressing the wish that they be afforded credence in their role, these documents also explained the purpose of their missions. Thus, letters of instruction and credence are fundamental tools that enable historians to complete the picture of external relations through the description that they provide of other aspects of communication and symbolic representation, which sometimes tend to go unnoticed in different types of documents. In order to better understand certain fundamental aspects of this analysis, we complemented the information obtained from the aforementioned documentation with data from other documentary sources that indicate some of the protocols that were used in dealings with princes and kings of other realms, as well as the specific characteristics that some of the royal counsellors should have.
A correspondência e troca de informações, através das cartas de instrução que davam o suporte necessário à atuação de um diplomata, constitui um tema da maior relevância para o estudo da diplomacia medieval. Neste tipo de documentos encontram-se informações bastante singulares sobre o que podia ou não ser proferido nesses contextos: os rituais, as atitudes e os procedimentos que um agente diplomático deveria assumir na sua missão internacional. A par das cartas de instrução, os diplomatas também se faziam acompanhar por cartas de crença (também designadas por credenciais), documentos entregues pelos diversos monarcas aos seus representantes legítimos, a fim de serem apresentadas no destino de cada missão diplomática. Estas cartas eram imprescindíveis à boa execução das negociações, pois, além de apresentarem os diplomatas e manifestarem a vontade de que se lhes fizesse crença, também expunham os propósitos das próprias missões. Deste modo, as cartas de instrução e de crença são instrumentos fundamentais para que o historiador possa complementar o quadro das relações externas, atendendo a outras vertentes mais do foro da comunicação e da representação simbólica e que por vezes passam despercebidas noutras tipologias documentais. Com o propósito de melhor compreender os aspetos fundamentais envolvidos nesta análise, completámos os dados da documentação já referida com os de outras fontes documentais que indicam alguns formulários específicos a usar em atos endereçados aos governantes de outros reinos, bem como as caraterísticas que alguns dos conselheiros régios deveriam ter.

Citation

Cunha, Maria Cristina, Costa, Paula Pinto, and Marinho, Duarte Babo, "The Preparation of Embassies and the Protocols Followed by Royal Portuguese Ambassadors in the Late Middle Ages" (2019). e-Journal of Portuguese History. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://doi.org/10.26300/nfna-t755

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  • e-Journal of Portuguese … Thumbnail

    The e-Journal of Portuguese History (e-JPH) (ISSN: 1645-6432) is an international peer-reviewed scholarly journal with the objective of providing publication of work on historical subjects, especially those concerning themes and topics of Portuguese history analyzed in a comparative perspective. It …

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