Exhibition "'Hear the Ambassadors": The Performance of Diplomacy in the Age of Shakespeare
A foreign state sponsors a political assassination on English soil.
The attempt fails.
In its aftermath, Her Majesty's government asks her expert advisers:
What is the appropriate level of response?
What action can we take against murderous individuals --
and state sponsored terrorism?
But this case dates not from 2018 but 1584, when the Spanish Ambassador in London colluded in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth I. The Queen's Privy Council wanted to execute Mendoza. The jurist Alberico Gentili said they couldn't -- because even criminal ambassadors were protected by the right to diplomatic immunity. The following year Gentili published his comprehensive treatise on the role of the ambassador, a book Henry Wotton undoubtedly knew when he arrived in Venice in 1604, instructed by King James to restore diplomatic relations between London and the Republic.
'Hear the Ambassadors: The Performance of Diplomacy in the Age of Shakespeare' is an exhibition that draws together the strands of this history. It thinks about the theory of embassy. It looks at fictions of embassy on Shakespeare's stage. And it displays the practice of Wotton's Venetian embassy. It gathers a rich collection original documents, objects, and early printed books to illustrate the performance of diplomacy. Curated by Warwick's Professor Carol Chillington Rutter in collaboration with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the exhibition reminds us of the on-going work that ambassadors do to 'represent the person of the Prince' and to 'practice the healing art' of diplomacy.
The exhibition runs from until September 3 2018 in the Treasures Room of the Shakespeare Centre, Stratford upon Avon. It is funded by a grant from the Warwick Impact Fund.