Addressing audiences abroad: cultural and public diplomacy in seventeenth-century Europe

Klaas Van Gelder, Nina Lamal

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


This special issue highlights the interactions between diplomats and wider audiences in their host country during the seventeenth century. The dynamic and complex relationships between diplomats and foreign audiences in the early modern period have remained somewhat under the radar. While concepts such as “soft power”, “cultural diplomacy”, and “public diplomacy” have been developed by scholars of international relations in the twentieth century to describe and analyse twentieth-century realities, we argue that early modern historians can draw inspiration from these concepts to start answering the questions how, why, and when different European states and their representatives addressed foreign audiences abroad. Taking such an approach will expand our understanding of the strategies and tools diplomats had at their disposal to engage with different audiences. We conclude this approach has the potential to open new avenues of research into the history of symbolic communication, news, public opinion, as well as early modern international relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-387
Number of pages21
JournalThe Seventeenth Century
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Helmers, “Public Diplomacy,” 401–20. See also the VIDI Project funded by NWO “Inventing Public Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe. How Printed Media Shaped Dutch International Relations, 1568–1713,” at the Humanities Cluster of the Royal Netherlands Society of Arts and Sciences: (accessed 29 June 2020).

Funding Information:
When the corona pandemic started to paralyse the planet, our five authors had just submitted a first version of their articles. This special issue has become our “corona project”. Working together on the writing of the introduction and editing the contributions gave us both a sense of purpose as our lives were turned upside down. Despite all professional and private challenges, all five contributors managed, in often difficult circumstances, to submit their final versions. We want to thank The Arenberg Foundation for their generous support, which allowed the contributions to be proofread by a professional. Our thanks go to Anton Froeyman for his careful proofreading. Helmer Helmers and Kerrewin van Blanken shared their thoughts on the conceptual framework of this special issue. Finally, we owe many thanks to the editor-in-chief of The Seventeenth Century, Richard Maber, for all his advice and support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Seventeenth Century.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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