Journal Article

The Jacobean Diplomatic Fraternity and the Protestant Cause: Sir Isaac Wake and the View from Savoy

Vivienne Larminie

in The English Historical Review

Volume CXXI, issue 494, pages 1300-1326
Published in print December 2006 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online December 2006 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cel280
The Jacobean Diplomatic Fraternity and the Protestant Cause: Sir Isaac Wake and the View from Savoy

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One of the circle of godly scholar-diplomats nurtured at Oxford by Sir Thomas Bodley and Sir Henry Savile, Isaac Wake exemplifies the talent, independence and advanced Protestant vision of several of King James's agents abroad in the years around the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War. Well-versed in the arts of rhetoric and patient in negotiation, this university orator developed a close relationship with the notoriously slippery Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy and gained the respect of the Venetians. Frequently traversing the Alps, he worked to thwart Habsburg ambitions in Italy and to promote Frederick of the Palatinate's interests in Germany; he acted to undermine Catholic alliances and to build non-confessional links between Savoy, Venice, the German princes and the Swiss cantons. While appreciative of Italian culture, and sensitive to Catholic moderation where he perceived it, Wake shared with colleagues a profound distrust of papal, Jesuit and Habsburg ‘pretensions’, and a deep sense of Protestant solidarity. In particular, going beyond his brief, he assumed the roles of protector of Geneva and the Vaud against their former overlord Savoy, promoter of Swiss liberties in the context of passing Spanish armies, and advocate of the persecuted Waldenses of the Grisons. Sustained by godly supporters at home and by friends and fellow diplomats abroad, Wake's achievement was palpable, despite financial hardships and political frustrations. The task of a Jacobean diplomat whose master trod an idiosyncratic path was difficult, but it was not inevitably devoid of principle or of companionship, or even of success and recognition.

Journal Article.  13666 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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