UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Patronage, Networks and Connections: English Ambassadors to Muscovy in the 17th Century

15 March 2022, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Ivan the Terrible shows his treasures to the English ambassador Horsey

A SSEES Research Student seminar with Shahid Hussain

This event is free.

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There are two main tensions in studies of Early Modern Anglo-Russian Diplomacy, Patronage and Networking. Older studies believe ambassadors were often political figures or theologians sent by the state and serving their monarch. These diplomats often engaged in ‘political’ tasks abroad, including negotiating treaties or discussing economic privileges. Newer studies focus on the social and cultural aspects of diplomacy, arguing diplomats were sent because of their informal family, friendship and patronage connections, often using their social networks abroad to procure gifts, intelligence and other curiosities. By examining English ambassadors to Muscovy in the 17th century, and answering several key research questions, including why ambassadors were sent, what they did abroad and who they served, this talk aims to redress this balance, by situating the selection, activities and service of English ambassadors to Russia in a cultural and social framework, but also emphasising how this cannot be divorced from the wider political and diplomatic context.

Image credit: Painting by Alexander Litovchenko, Wikimedia