Mark Netzloff, Agents beyond the State: The Writings of English Travelers, Soldiers, and Diplomats in Early Modern Europe – Oxford University Press, November 2020

Mark Netzloff, Agents beyond the State: The Writings of English Travelers, Soldiers, and Diplomats in Early Modern Europe – Oxford University Press, November 2020

The early modern period is often seen as a pivotal stage in the emergence of a recognizably modern form of the state. Agents beyond the State returns to this context in order to examine the literary and social practices through which the early modern state was constituted. The state was defined not through the elaboration of theoretical models of sovereignty but rather as an effect of the literary and professional lives of its extraterritorial representatives. Netzloff focuses on the textual networks and literary production of three groups of extraterritorial agents: travelers and intelligence agents, mercenaries, and diplomats. These figures reveal the extent to which the administration of the English state as well as definitions of national culture were shaped by England’s military, commercial, and diplomatic relations in Europe and other regions across the globe. Netzloff emphasizes the transnational contexts of early modern state formation, from the Dutch Revolt and relations with Venice to the role of Catholic exiles and nonstate agents in diplomacy and international law. These global histories of travel, service, and labor additionally transformed definitions of domestic culture, from the social relations of classes and regions to the private sphere of households and families. Literary writing and state service were interconnected in the careers of Fynes Moryson, George Gascoigne, and Sir Henry Wotton, among others. As they entered the realm of print and addressed a reading public, they introduced the practices of governance to an emerging public sphere.

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