ABSTRACT

While the establishment of permanent embassies during the Renaissance has traditionally been regarded as the first step toward the emergence of modern diplomacy, recent scholarship has questioned this grand narrative and suggested framing the history of premodern diplomacy as a much more nuanced and multifaceted process in which many intermediaries and go-betweens coexisted and competed with resident ambassadors. Taking up this thread, this article brings to light the role played in early modern diplomacy by religious refugees, who became influential through their capacity to facilitate cross-confessional exchanges between states that could not officially communicate. Focusing on sixteenth-century Anglo-Venetian diplomacy, the article demonstrates how, after the suspension of diplomatic contact between Venice and England in 1559, religious refugees replaced resident ambassadors and allowed exchanges and the information flow to continue.

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