CEEH Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica

Ambassadors in Golden-Age Madrid. The Court of Philip IV through Foreign Eyes


Jorge Fernández-Santos and José Luis Colomer (eds.)


608 pages; 287 color illustrations; hardcover with chrome; 21 x 27 cm


English; 2020




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This book sets out to describe the experiences of foreign ambassadors dispatched to Spain during the long reign of Philip IV (1621–65). Through a selection of diplomats of various nationalities—from the Holy Roman Empire, the Holy See, France, England, Venice, Tuscany, Genoa, the small Italian states, Sweden, Denmark, and the Ottoman Empire—it paints a broad picture of political missions to the ‘Planet King’ and of personal agendas in Golden-Age Madrid. With their different perceptions of the Habsburg court and life in a city that was entirely transformed into the capital of a worldwide monarchy in the decades of the mid-seventeenth century, these men bear fascinating witness to the interactions between a dominant state at pains to preserve its hegemonic role and a variety of powers ranging from close allies to sworn enemies on the international stage.

The operations of the administrative and political system with which new ambassadors were confronted on reaching Madrid are scrutinised here by a distinguished group of academics, museum curators and independent researchers who provide complementary approaches to diplomatic history. Twenty-one specialists from eight different countries contribute texts devoted to thirteen ambassadors and highlight specific assignments in the foreign service, showing how much these agents relied on their own backgrounds and interests when assessing Spaniards and Spain. Mostly based on unpublished sources and lavishly illustrated with more than 280 images, this anthology of essays sheds light on Madrid as a centre of international diplomacy and offers a new perspective on the king who was deemed by Europeans to be the most powerful monarch in the world.

Jorge Fernández-Santos is a member of the History faculty at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. Educated at Cornell University, he subsequently earned a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Juan Caramuel y la probable arquitectura (Madrid, 2014). Several publications delve on cultural exchange between Italy and Spain in the early modern period.

José Luis Colomer has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Bologna and a degree in Art History from the Sorbonne (Paris). He currently directs the CEEH (Madrid) and the CSA (New York). His research addresses cultural relations between Spain and Italy in the seventeenth century through diplomatic agents and the exchange of gifts of artworks.