chapter  12
Negotiating the sixteenth-century road
Diplomacy and travel in early modern Europe
WithKrzysztof Odyniec
Pages 18

In the early sixteenth century, European states were growing in bureaucratic reach and complexity. Improved post-courier systems and financial institutions allowed rulers to send diplomats abroad for long periods of time – the first resident ambassadors – to maintain contact with distant courts. But the success of a traveler or a letter remained tenuous, as wars, brigands, and even the elements could complicate their progress. The letters of one such ambassador, Johannes Dantiscus, who traveled from Poland through Germany to Spain in 1522, show the networks and resources available to him and also the limits of their effectiveness, not only on the open roads and waterways of early modern Europe but also in its taverns, which were liminal spaces of public mixing and private intrigue.