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SEMIOTICS OF BEHAVIOR IN EARLY MODERN DIPLOMACY: POLISH EMBASSIES IN ISTANBUL AND BAHÇESARAY

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Ceremonial has always played a great role among European and Middle Eastern societies, reflecting the value systems cherished by their elites. Embassy instructions and envoys' reports provide valuable material concerning codes of behavior in early modern diplomacy. What was considered "proper," and how was an envoy expected to behave in order to stress his sovereign's dignity and power? Oriental courts in Istanbul and Bahçesaray developed elaborate ceremonials for foreign envoys. Forced into a deep prostration before the Muslim ruler, sometimes even threatened with physical violence, Polish envoys deeply resented their humiliation. Some of them sought comfort in alcohol, others produced fabulous reports of their imaginary altercations with Ottoman and Crimean dignitaries, and others found pleasure and revenge in contemptuous descriptions of their hosts' "barbarous" habits. Until recently, such diplomatic reports have been used in Polish historiography almost uncritically. Yet such reports often tell us more about their authors' mentalities than about the world they pretend to describe.

10.1163/157006503772486883
/content/journals/10.1163/157006503772486883
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/content/journals/10.1163/157006503772486883
2003-11-01
2016-12-09

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