‘Royal Gifts and Diplomatic Ceremonial: The Case of James VI/I’s Apologie (1609)’

800px king james i of england and vi of scotland by john de critz the elder

This paper examines a diplomatic gifting campaign that saw the ambassadors of James VI/I take copies of the second issue of his Apologie for the Oath of Allegiance (1609) to over two dozen European rulers. James's Apologie is almost unique among early modern religious polemics as a text written by a ruling monarch given directly by that monarch to other members of the society of princes with whom he was in amity. The polemical content of the tract caused problems and opportunities. Catholic rulers needed to balance the competing demands of friendship with England and their loyalty to the Pope, whose power James attacked in the book. Meanwhile, members of the Protestant Union saw the book as a potential means to get a firm commitment from the king, even though some did not fully approve of the doctrine James put forward in the work.
The paper uses this campaign and the responses to it to discuss the interplay between gift-giving, material text, and diplomatic ceremonial and what this can tell us about the complexity of diplomatic communication more broadly. It places particular emphasis on those courts/rulers that rejected or partially rejected the gift and the strategies that they adopted to try to ensure ongoing amicable relations despite their (full or partial) rejection.


Diplomacy in Early Modern Period 1400-1800

Contact name: Ruggero Sciuto

Contact email: ruggero.sciuto@hertford.ox.ac.uk

Audience: Open to all