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Introduction: Cross-Confessional Diplomacy and Diplomatic Intermediaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean

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This special issue, an exercise in integrated Mediterranean history through the lens of diplomacy, demonstrates that diplomatic genres and practices associated with a European political and cultural tradition, on the one hand, or an Islamic tradition, on the other, were not produced in isolation but attained meaning through the process of mediation and negotiation among intermediaries of different confessional and social backgrounds. Building on the “new diplomatic history,” the essays focus on non-elite (e.g. Christian slaves, renegades, Jewish doctors, Moriscos) and less commonly studied (mid- and high-ranking Muslim officials) intermediaries in Mediterranean cross-confessional diplomacy. The issue argues that the early modern period witnessed a relative balance of power among Muslim- and Christian-ruled polities: negotiations entailed not only principles of reciprocity, parity, and commensurability, but these were actually enforceable in practice. This challenges the notion of European diplomatic supremacy, prompting scholars to fundamentally rethink the narrative about the origins of early modern diplomacy.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam; 2: Central European University


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