General Methods

This section discusses how I organized the data schema and the decisions behind the organization of the site. I will begin by describing the basic premise that forms the foundation of all sections, and then I will discuss data issues specific to each part of the project.

This site is should be interpreted as a platial visualization (focusing on place) more than a spatial visualization because the map locates the home country, duchy, county, etc., of the person on the map rather than their exact physical position. For instance, Etienne Pasquier was embedded in the camp of the Duke of Saxony in 1568. The Duke of Saxony was hired as a mercenary to support the French crown in their war against the Protestant armies during the second War of Religion. Much of the time Henri (then the Duke of Anjou) wrote to Pasquier, he was not in Saxony, but marching through the German lands or even France itself. Yet, the communication between the two of them was a form of communication with he Duke of Saxony. Each of those letters is represented as a point in Saxony since the letters reflected a concern for or interaction with Saxony in one form or another even if those letters were delivered to Pasquier while he was in France. Similar situations arise in the ambassadors sections. Gabriel Leutz d’Aramon was the ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1547, but he followed the sultan on campaign against the Safavid Empire that year. So, he was actually at the seige of Van in the Safavid Empire. Nevertheless, on the map, he is located in Constantinople as a representation of being placed at the court of the Ottoman Empire. In other words the map represents not the physical location of the ambassador or letter recipient but the state they represent.

The goal of this project is to understand the geopolitical community of the French crown. Under that guise, the physical locations of ambassadors or letter recipients is not as important as the connections between states that the letters and embassies represented. In that way, the project represents a sort of mental map of the French court: which states were at the forefront of the courts concerns and which were not. I have organized the data with this idea as the primary focus.

Ambassadors Sections

Sections mapping the locations of ambassadors use repetitive data to populate the map. Each data point represents one ambassador located at one location for one year. For instance, if an ambassador is present in England from August 1574 to June 1576, that ambassador will produce three dots on the map. Similarly, the map only tracks embassies that spent extensive time at their host location--more than six months.

There are some limitations to this approach. For instance, the map does not track the size of an entourage. If the French ruler sends one ambassador with a large entourage, this extra emphasis intended to show respect and garner influence does not show up on the map.

Sixteenth-Century Ambassadors

The vast majority of the data for the Sixteenth-Century Ambassadors section comes from Fleury Vindry’s Les ambassadeurs français permanents au XVIe siècle (1903). I am also in the process of adding to this dataset from my own research since as De Lamar Jensen argued years ago, this dataset is not complete. For instance, certain locations remain suspiciously under-reported such as Rome before 1530. The map currently contains three data points before then from 1513 to 1515 that come from Catherine Fletcher’s Diplomacy in Renaissance Rome.

Letters Sections

Sections based on letters follow a much simpler method. They simply map each letter written by—or on behalf of—a French ruler or regent sent to a recipient outside the French borders. As stated above, these recipients could be French ambassadors sent abroad, foreign leaders, foreign bankers, even foreign leaders inside French territory as the example above indicates.

Letters of Henri III

The section on the letters of Henri III has benefitted tremendously from the pain staking work of the editors of the Lettres de Henri III. Pierre Champion, Michel François published the first volume of the collection in 1959, and followed it up with four more volumes ending in the year 1582. During that period they received the support of Heinrich Konig, Bernard Barbiche, and Henri Zuber. Jacqueline Boucher joined the team on volume six, and she has since led editorial team for volumes seven and eight. This section is heavily endebted the tireless work of these researchers. They found and catalogued the letters, and except for a few letters I found not to have been included, this section is based on their labors since I enter the letter information from these volumes.

Cite this page:
Nathan Michalewicz, “Methodology,” in Mappping French Diplomacy: Royal Correspondence and Diplomatic Geography 1494-1715.