Researching Early Modern History

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Research blog entry 13 – T.D. Jacobs

I have concluded that two posts a month is more than I can currently make good on. So – with my sincerest apologies to my loyal readers – I’m going to commit to one post a month. That is more achievable, it seems. What have I been doing with my time if not writing blog posts? Well, I have been working on my new course, ‘Aspects of English Diplomacy’. While preparing readings and lectures for a new class is always time consuming, I find that this course is really forcing me to move forward on much of my research at a brisk pace. Not only am I managing to source more secondary literature, but the thematic lectures require that I investigate more of the essentials relating to my doctorate. For example, the influence of the merchant companies upon Interregnum diplomacy, or the timeline pertaining to the development of the ‘master of ceremonies’ as an office.

Next week, I am attending a masterclass in Den Haag given by Prof. dr Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger on the cultural approach to political history. This is going to be essential to my work moving forward, considering that protocol, ceremony, and public display are turning out to be key areas of competition among the ambassadors in London, as well as evolving aspects of the Interregnum government. While in Den Haag, I am also going to locate and photograph the Dutch resident’s correspondence with the Staten-Generaal. I have images of the official ‘verbaal’, a partial draft, and Nieupoort’s incomplete journals. What I have discovered is that information is presented in different ways in these documents, and the journals themselves, while containing fascinating details of the kind that I am looking for (such as his close association with Strickland, Strickland’s wife, and the daughter of a former Dutch ambassador, his protocol fight with Sagredo, and that Cromwell sent him a pie …) still have gaps when it comes to details of his conversations with certain actors. I hope that the correspondence, which the verbaal and journals indicate that he maintained on a daily basis, will fill in this lacunas. In particular, I am especially interested in what he wrote regarding the 1655 embassy of Manasseh ben Israel, and his meeting with the rabbi. I am currently attempting to write an article examining Israel’s mission from a more political and diplomatic perspective, as opposed to the almost entirely religious-oriented analysis it has thus far received by other historians.

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