Andrew Marvell in Russia: Secretaries, Rhetoric, and Public Diplomacy

Jan Hennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines interactions between diplomatic representation, state bureaucracy, and rhetoric in early modern diplomacy. It analyzes manuscripts in the hand of the poet Andrew Marvell, which he wrote as secretary to the Earl of Carlisle’s 1663-4 embassy to Moscow. The manuscripts show how a battle over diplomatic ceremony and honour unfolded into disputes over the forms and decorum used in a lively exchange of diplomatic letters and written complaints. These texts were edited, translated and published for English and international audiences by another embassy secretary, Guy Miège. The article traces the afterlife of the embassy letters in print, arguing that Marvell and Miège became central agents in shaping how the embassy was perceived at home and further afield. The wider context of public diplomacy drew from the secretaries considerable skill in framing diplomatic letters for consumption by different audiences. Early Modern ambassadors performed rituals of sovereignty, symbolizing status and rank, but the complex art of diplomatic image-making was also directed by lower-ranking embassy personnel. Examining the relationship between the practices of bureaucratic institutions and the performative nature of diplomacy, this article shows how the art and bureaucratic practices of secretaries exerted significant influence on the early modern reception of diplomatic relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565–586
JournalJournal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • early modern English and Russian diplomacy
  • Andrew Marvell’s embassy to Moscow
  • diplomatic custom and ritual
  • secretarial correspondance in manuscript and print
  • performative nature of diplomacy


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