Art and Diplomacy: Seventeenth-Century English Decorated Royal Letters to Russia and the Far East


In this study of Art and Diplomacy we see the relationship between renaissance design in decorated borders and the messages conveyed in the texts of royal letters from the English kings to Russia and rulers in the Far East. These are cases of art serving the Crown, with much of the early limning done by Edward Norgate, the English miniaturist. Printed here for the first time from Russian archives, this collection provides a continuum for the study of the limning of royal letters throughout the 17th century. The letters that the decoration enhances reveal the details of privileges and commercial advantages sought by the English, and the cultural interests of the Russians in their requests for English doctors, apothecaries, jewellers, and mineralogists.
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EUR €128.00USD $187.00

Biographical Note

Maija Jansson, Ph.D. (1985), Temple University, FRHS, Director Emerita of the Yale Center for Parliamentary History, currently Visiting Fellow at Yale University. She has published multiple volumes of proceedings in the English parliaments as well as articles on the impeachment of Inigo Jones, ambassadorial gifts, decoration in Whitehall, et cetera.

Review Quotes

“Maija Jansson’s beautifully illustrated book breathes new life into a field of study traditionally associated with dry and dusty antiquarianism […]. One of the highlights of Jansson’s book is the inclusion of fourteen color reproductions of the most visually exciting of these letters, which again invite us to appreciate royal correspondence of the early modern period as more than mere text: they were material objects and works of art, comprising a rich and varied range of visual semiotics about which, thanks to Jansson, we still have so much to learn.”
Rayne Allinson, University of Michigan-Dearborn. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 1 (Spring 2017), pp. 324-325.

“Maija Jansson has uncovered not only a little-known source, but also a neglected culture of official communication, with a long tradition and an enduring set of conventions.”
Stephen K. Roberts, in: Parliamentary History, Vol. 36, No. 3 (October 2017), pp. 398-400.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations



Documents and Design

Chapter 1. Instruments of Policy

Chapter 2. Complexities of Royal Letters

Chapter 3. Decoration, Format, Art and Text

Chapter 4. Limners, Printers and Embellishers

Early Stuarts

Chapter 5. James I


Chapter 6. Charles I


Commonwealth and Protectorate

Chapter 7, Note on The Interregnum

Later Stuarts

Chapter 8. Charles II


Chapter 9. James II


Appendix 1. Notes on the letters printed below from RGADA (transcribed and translated
by Paul Bushkovitch)

Appendix 2. Brief bibliography of Russian sources (compiled by Paul Bushkovitch)




All interested in English limning, decorative arts, seventeenth-century English, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Scottish, and Polish history, commerce and early trading companies to Japan, China, and Russia, diplomacy, European rulers, and Letters as a genre.