Accessing Arcana Imperii

The project held its second international conference on 28–29 May in Bucharest at the New Europe College. The conference titled Accessing Arcana Imperii: Diplomatic Practices of Early Modern Small States in Eastern Europe welcomed researchers from several countries to discuss the informal diplomatic practices of Eastern European small states.

Giorgio Rota’s keynote speech opened the event. The researcher from the Academy of Sciences of Austria explored in his presentation the numerous alternative ways and agents of diplomatic communication that complemented the official channels between Christian Europe and Safavid Persia.

The first session of the conference explored hitherto uncharted channels of diplomatic communication. Researchers explored the forms of communication employed by states, formations, and individuals of uncertain legitimacy when treating with the established powers surrounding them.

After this, shifting loyalties and well-timed changing of allegiances were examined. Small states and agents of these political bodies had to balance not only their actual allegiances but also the ritual and ceremonial gestures through which these were reinforced. The papers concentrated on specific cases of such concealed shifts and symbolic communication.

The final session of the first day explored the problems faced by states balancing on the edge of legitimacy. Focusing on individuals or groups of agents, the papers presented extrapolated on how the small states vying for legitimacy could utilize less formal channels and agents in their efforts to reinforce their status.

The second day was opened by the keynote speech of Matthias Schnettger, professor of the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. He explored in detail the routes of diplomacy that Italian and German small states had, and the challenges and opportunities met there, focusing especially on the ones posed by these states’ limited resources.

The first session of the day had papers concerned with modes of influencing in informal ways and manners. The presenters explored cases of interpersonal relationships utilized for the good of the states, as well as these agents’ role in settling major disputes and forging treaties.

In the final session, researchers presented their works regarding atypical diplomatic agents. These cases challenged either their contemporary concepts of diplomatic agents or researchers’ expectations about politically influential individuals.

The conference provided a scene for stimulating papers and discussion on early modern diplomacy. The proceedings of the conference will soon be published, and discussions will continue in the following international conference next year.