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La figure de l'ambassadeur entre mondes éloignés

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Nicolas Drocourt

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1The Papacy and its emissaries to the East in 13th centuries: ambassadors or missionaries?

2Thomas Tanase

3The papacy had a long tradition of negotiations with the Byzantine Empire, besides organizing the Crusades. But in the 13th century, the papacy also started to send on a regularly basis letters to Muslim rulers, from the Maghreb to Bagdad; it even succeeded in dispatching ambassadors to the Mongol powers as far as China. All those emissaries were theoretically nothing else but missionaries, calling to religious conversion, sometimes along with pleas for what would be called today humanitarian preoccupations. It is nevertheless quite necessary to go further on when analyzing this phenomenon: the calls to conversion were also often accompanied with more political objectives, and particularly with the aim of placing the papacy in a central position compared to the various European secular powers, while the pope’s ambassadors were invested as the official representatives of the West, conceived as a Christianity united by the Pontifical See. The papacy was thus able to promote the integration of the whole world to a single globalized system, while converting to Christianity meant from now on conversion to Rome, and that is conversion to the West. This way, the issue of political interests aside, the invitation to convert to western universalism, presented indeed as the only rational choice, was gradually able to become the usual norm of the diplomatic language of the West.

4The figure of the ambassador at the Armenian chroniclers of the XIIIth century

5Isabelle Augé

6The situation of the Armenians puts them in touch with numerous peoples and they are often obliged to negotiate with the more distant or nearby powers to assure their survival. The historian expects that the figure of the ambassador is very present in the Armenian sources. But he notices, in the careful examination of these, that the mentions are finally relatively tenuous. The even mediocre material is handled here according to three axes. The first part makes a semantic analysis, finding the terms used by the chroniclers, by trying to reveal, among these, variants of meaning of a word. The assessment shows that the chroniclers use more gladly such or such term without it is really possible to remove a definitive teaching from it. Social analysis of the ambassadors quoted in sources, realized in second part, gives more convincing results, allowing to draw up a rather faithful portrait of these characters, often stemming from an aristocratic environment, always well chosen. Finally, the presentation attempts to develop some precise cases of delegations, with their tribulations, to try to highlight certain constants in the modalities of travel.

7“Ambassadors”, “envoys” and others. Diplomatic vocabulary and practice on the crossroads of languages (principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, 15th-16th centuries)

8Radu G. Păun

9The present paper draws the general features of the diplomatic vocabulary and practices in the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia (15th-16th centuries). The interest of this research field, which is practically neglected by scholars, lies in the geopolitical specificity of these two states, as they are situated on the crossroads of several cultural traditions (byzantine, slavic, occidental, ottoman) and languages (Greek, Church Slavonic, Latin, Polish, Italian, Ottoman Turkish). By this fact, they stood at the core of multiple process of cultural transfer whose consequences on their political organization, including diplomacy, still remain to be investigated. With the help of some case studies, the author raises some questions and put forward some work hypothesis concerning the motivations, the character and the status of the diplomatic envoys, as well as the ways they were recruited and were welcomed at the foreign courts. The analysis of the vocabulary and of the diplomatic practices is coupled with a critical overview of the available sources.

10The figure of the Byzantine ambassador to the Ottomans in the first half of the fifteenth century

11Élisabeth Malamut

12The purpose of this paper is to identify this character by his birth, education, environment, language skills and special knowledge of the habits of this specific foreign what the Ottoman and finally examine the criteria choice of Byzantine ambassador to the Ottoman court. The main figures discussed in this article are Demetrius Leontaris Ambassador to Mehmed I, Theologos Khorax, Philadelphia native, who became a familiar of sultans Mehmed I and Murad II and Grand Vizier Bajezid, played an intermediary and ambiguous role and was suspected by many Byzantines of being a traitor, Manuel Mélachrinos, Loukas Notaras and Sphrantzès, the famous author of the last hours of Constantinople, who participated in the 1424 embassy, sent to Murad II in the context of a treaty after a long crisis, and continued to attend the Ottoman court on several occasions in recent decades, and others less well known, like Manuel Stachitzès or Paul Asanès representing the pro-Turkish party to the Byzantine court. With the accession of Mehmed II in February 1451, diplomatic relations became strained and the dawn of the Fall, the ambassadors were no longer welcome at the ottomare court.

13The Pisan Ambassadors in the Muslim World (Egypt and Maghreb 12th-14th Centuries)

14Mohamed Ouerfelli

15If the Muslim Ambassadors sent to Pisa are still misrepresented by documentation, one can better review the situation of Pisan diplomats going to Egypt and the Maghreb, thanks to a series of regulations, recommendations, and letters from the Chancellery of the city of Pisa. These various documents, along with peace and business treaties, have provided a certain number of details about the diplomatic personnel and have helped some profiles of Pisan Ambassadors emerge as they were exemplified along their career. The purpose of this paper was twofold: a) to comprehend the lexicon used to designate the ambassadors and b) to study their recruitment criteria, election procedures as well as the compensation issues. The question then that brought itself to the fore was about the rules established by the Pisan community to supervise the diplomatic missions. In other words, what authority limits did the Pisan Ambassadors in Egypt and Maghreb have? Examples of distinguished Ambassadors who succeeded their entrusted missions supported this argument and paved the way for more peace negotiations.

16Messengers from overseas: embassies and ambassadors travelling between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean (8th-15th centuries AD)

17Éric Vallet

18From the shores of the Red Sea to those of the China Sea, the world of the Indian Ocean is often presented today as an area of continuous exchange throughout the Middle Ages. Although this is undeniable from the point of view of the history of trade, it largely remains to be explored from a political and diplomatic standpoint. The present study focuses in particular on the movements of embassies and ambassadors between Arab and Near Eastern Islamic states on the Red Sea (Egypt, Hejaz, Yemen) and southern and eastern Asian coastal states. Although for a long time they were characterized by occasional and sporadic contacts, mainly anchored in the imperial Islamic imagination of the early centuries, these Indian Ocean diplomatic relations asserted themselves in a more structured way in the second half of the thirteenth century, a pivotal era to which we will devote most of our attention, focusing on the hitherto little studied case of a Ceylonese embassy sent to Egypt in 1282-1283. Detailed observation of this fruitless diplomatic exchange will allow us to assess more precisely the transformations at work in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, which saw the development of a new Mecca-centred polarity in the Indian Ocean area. First seen as strange, exotic figures, these messengers from over the sea came to assume new traits: those of men fully integrated into the world of Islam, but who remained able to benefit from their status as cultural and linguistic go-betweens in the diverse and multi-facetted world of the pre-modern Indian Ocean.

19Muslim Ambassadors to Venice up to the 16th century

20Maria Pia Pedani

21In the Middle Ages the city of Venice had commercial relations with some Muslim countries. Venetian merchants who trade in the East were accompanied and protected by consuls and ambassadors sent by the central government. However sometimes, above all when international problems arose, even Islamic rulers sent their diplomatic envoys to Venice. On the basis of the documents kept in the Venetian State Archives it is possible to discover which sovereigns sent their men to Venice and why. They were, for instance, the Mamluk sultans of Egypt (1465 and 1476), Uzun Hasan, emir of the Ak Kuyunlu (1470-1475), the Tatar khan Ahmed (1476) and, above all, the Ottoman rulers (from 1384 onwards) together with some of their provincial governors (beylerbeyi). Venetians received these diplomats in the best way, prepared flats and organized feasts for them, besides political meeting, but they were also very careful about this kind of persons. In that period, in Europe, it was easy to meet swindlers who pretended to be ambassadors sent by far-off and exotic rulers. Some of them, as for instance friar Ludovico da Bologna (1460), succeeded in faking even kings and popes. Venetians, who had mixed with Muslims for centuries, could not be easily deceived and even Ludovico’s adventure found its inevitable conclusion just in Venice.

© Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2015

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