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11 Family Politics, Family Networks and the “Familial Self”: Sibling Letters in Seventeenth Century German High Aristocracy

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Chapter Summary

In the archives, letters from aristocratic siblings are often widely scattered throughout different collections and not easy to find. They are, for instance, just as likely to be found in collections on "Family Affairs" as in those on "Foreign Relations". Recently, the "letter" as a medium has attracted general interest, especially through questions raised by research into self-narratives. In many cases, though, letter exchange was not yet a matter of exclusive correspondence between two partners, rather it involved entire circles of senders and addressees. In the seventeenth century, the letter developed into the means of communication and instrument of activity for the European aristocracy. There was no small danger that letters with sensitive political news could be captured by oppositional factions. As a countermeasure, various encoding techniques were often employed. The greatest part of the information contained in the letters concerns events at court.

Keywords: aristocratic siblings; communication; encoding techniques; European aristocracy; Family Affairs; Foreign Relations; self-narratives



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