The Portable Archives of the Westphalian Negotiations: From Archival Arsenals to Archival Absolutism (France, Portugal, and Spain)

In: Journal of Early Modern History
Fabien Montcher Saint Louis University

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This article analyzes the formation of scholar-jurists’ archives during Late Renaissance conflicts and their use by individuals and state powers. Departing from the case of the French scholar, Théodore Godefroy (1580-1649), and his role in the Peace of Westphalia (1643-1648), this article shows how scholars’ portable archives were used as archival arsenals during diplomatic negotiations, eventually leading to the adoption of a system of “archival absolutism” in France. This archival absolutism was a reaction to the fragmentation of archives that had previously fostered trans-imperial exchanges among scholars. This article also demonstrates, through the case of Godefroy’s portable archive and correspondence, how the search for political legitimacy by a “restored” monarchy—like Portugal—during a period of conflict between the chief hegemonic powers in western Europe—Spain and France—contributed to the distinct development of those states’ uses of legal experts and their archives over the course of the seventeenth century.

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