Political institutions and concepts do not exist in a timeless sphere. They have to be constantly negotiated, communicated and defended. Throughout history, this has been the prime responsibility of counsellors in the service of secular and ecclesiastical governments.
This workshop offers scholars the opportunity to compare and contrast European cultures of political counsel systematically. We will investigate the ways in which political advice was rendered, received and applied in the courts and councils of Europe from c 800 to c 1800. Who are the people acting as counsellors? What training, experience and standards of professionalism do they bring to the task? In how far does their background determine the ways in which they perceive political reality, devise objectives and advise on decisions? Within which contexts - political, intellectual, institutional and cultural – do they operate? What terminologies and concepts, strategies and procedures counsellors and their clients observe and employ when devising and communicating their agendas and objectives?
Exploring the interface between theory and practice in political decision-making in medieval and early-modern Europe, speakers and delegates will shed much needed light on what has become the overarching issue for historians of political thinking: in how far does political advice shape political decisions and determine political outcomes.
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