The Ambassadors: From Ancient Greece to Renaissance Europe, the Men Who Introduced the World to Itself
In The Ambassadors, Jonathan Wright’s stated purpose is to show how influential ambassadors have been “in the encounters, collisions, and rivalries among the world’s disparate civilizations.” Not only did these men represent their own culture (in its entirety, for the most part and for better or worse), they took home with them their personal impressions of the places they had been, at times with their own personal prejudices (Russians were cruel drunks, according to Tudor England’s ambassador to Moscow, Giles Fletcher). Ambassadorial missions fostered an exciting exchange of foreign ideas, as well, from the scientific to fashions and foods.
Wright has divided the book into five sections, beginning with the Ancient World and on through the Middle Centuries, the Medieval Age and the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Along the way he creates a vivid and complex world based on the personalities who were the world’s first ambassadors, beginning in Part I with the eleventh century B.C. Egyptian envoy who traveled to Lebanon to purchase wood for the god Amun-re’s sacred barque. Colorful accounts such as this one make The Ambassadors a valuable addition to any library, whether for research purposes or for an enjoyable read.
The Ambassadors: From Ancient Greece to the Nation State (UK)