The Information-Network of an Imperial Diplomat at the Sublime Porte (17th Century)

Elisabeth Lobenwein

Time and Place: Friday, 02.07., 10:35–10:55, Room 1
Session: Networks and Power

Keywords: Information-network; Sublime Porte; Diplomacy

The successful acquisition of information was (respectively is) one of the most essential elements of diplomatic and political agency. In contrast to the content and the political consequences of the information obtained, the practice of information acquisition has so far been hardly dealt with, especially within the historical sciences.

However, how did diplomatic representatives get relevant information, on which human and material resources could they rely on, and how did infrastructural conditions influence their work? I will investigate these questions using the 178 letters that the imperial envoy at the Sublime Porte, Giovanni Battista Casanova, wrote between 1665 and 1672. Casanova’s extensive information-network, its structure, and most important actors (especially dragomans – e. g. interpreters or guides between Turkish or Arabic speaking countries and European diplomats or merchants – played a crucial role) are in the focal point of the analysis. Furthermore, the diachronic changes of the network, as well as the reasons for the adaption of the network, will be thematized. The qualitative data analysis is conducted via the MAXQDA progra