“Western” and “Eastern” discourses in the diplomatic correspondence of Ivan the Terrible: The role of the comparative method in conceptualizing the phenomenon and in defining the missives’ corpus
N. A. Kochekovskaya
National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia, Moscow)
Keywords: Medieval diplomacy, comparative studies, status, titles, hierarchy, rhetoric, etiquette formulas, petition, paying homage, Ivan the Terrible’s correspondence with Denmark, with Sweden, with the Nogai
Abstract: The central issue of this article is the specific character of diplomatic correspondence in the 16th century and, as a consequence, the difficulty in determining whether or not some examples of Ivan the Terrible’s correspondence belong to the realm of diplomacy. There were two distinct lines in Ivan’s diplomatic correspondence — with the rulers of Europe and with those of the conventional “East”; this in addition to the nature of medieval diplomacy as a relationship between the authority and charisma of individual rulers, rather than between independent and equal subjects of international law (as becomes the case by the Early Modern period). In dealing with this problem, this article suggests a comparative analysis of two conditionally distinguished discourses in Ivan the Terrible’s diplomatic correspondence — “Eastern” and “Western” ones. However, the model of correspondence used for contacts between the Muscovite State and the successors of the Golden Horde was frequently being extended to the correspondence with European rulers. This took place in those cases where Ivan believed his “Western” interlocutor unworthy of being granted a status equal to Ivan’s own and, as a result, used in his missives elements of his correspondence with the successors of the Golden Horde, who by then occupied a lower, semi-subordinate position in Ivan’s hierarchy of states. The article lays out conclusions regarding the significance of such examples for the theoretical problem of drawing the boundaries between diplomacy and non-diplomacy in the corpus of Ivan the Terrible’s letters. We show that the the question of how the addressee of Ivan’s missives was viewed – as a diplomatic partner or a “vassal” – was an essential part of the way diplomacy was considered in the 16th century Muscovite State.
To cite this article: Kochekovskaya N. A. (2019). “Western” and “Eastern” discourses in the diplomatic correspondence of Ivan the Terrible: The role of the comparative method in conceptualizing the phenomenon and in defining the missives’ corpus. Shagi / Steps