Public displays of Power and Respect: A global perspective on two “oriental” embassies to France in the 18th century


  • Anna Victoria Breidenbach Ruhr-Universität Bochum



The following article examines two ambassadorships to France that were received at the court of the ailing Louis XIV in 1714/15 and of the minor King Louis XV in 1720/21. It looks at the formal displays of power and respect during the mission of the Persian ambassador Mohammed Reza Beg and of the Ottoman ambassador Mehmed Efendi. Both ambassadors, perceived as “oriental” in the eyes of their hosts, were structured by French protocol that set up rules for the ambassadorial stay. By perceiving diplomacy in its dialectical character, this article assesses the interplay between the requirements of the French court and the reactions and actions of the ambassadors themselves. While the article looks at parallels between the missions, it also suggests that the Persian ambassador’s actions as well as his reception in France influenced the Ottoman ambassadorship to France five years later. By comparing the two legations, the presented research takes up a global perspective on the development of diplomacy in early modern times. In so doing, the article aims to contribute to a “new diplomatic history” that moves away from Eurocentrism by taking into consideration the impact of the perceptions of and connections between two ambassadeurs orienteaux.