Portuguese Diplomatic Correspondence and Information Channels during the War of the Spanish Succession
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During the War of the Spanish Succession, Portugal joined the Grand Alliance in 1703. It made it involved, from that year on, in the conflict that included most of the major European Powers in a dispute for the Spanish throne, which, ultimately, represented a contest for dominance in Europe. Under these circumstances, several diplomats were in charge of representing Portugal at the main European courts, protecting its interests and communicating regularly with the court of Lisbon.This paper addresses an understudied set of the correspondence written in this period by Francisco de Sousa Pacheco, the Portuguese envoy to The Hague, to João de Almeida Portugal, Portuguese ambassador to the court of Archduke Charles of Habsburg, one of the pretenders to the Spanish throne, in Barcelona. The main objective of this article is to study the information network established in Europe, mainly in the Grand Alliance side, and the different routes letters followed from The Hague to Barcelona, either using the existing postal system or known intermediaries. Letters were not the only means diplomats had to convey information to their addressees. They also sent other sources of information, like periodicals, accounts of events and pieces of information gathered from different sources, including propaganda in its various forms. It also analyses the developments of the war, the structure and evolution of these letters and the struggle of these diplomats with the other states to make sure their commitments to send military and financial support to the troops were fulfilled. He also wrote about the espionage within the various courts, and the interception diplomatic letters suffered from the opposite side.Ultimately, we’ll see the efforts of these ambassadors as a means for Portugal to gain recognition within Europe, although it ended up with an increasing dependency on foreign states support.
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