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Hapsburg-Ottoman Diplomatic Machinery: Automata and the Türkenvererhrung
November 14, 2011 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Solmsen Fellow (2011-2012)
Art History, UW-Madison
This paper concerns the history of the long-distance circulation of objects in the early modern world. When recounting the history of intercontinental movement of objects scholars of the early modern world have tended view it through the lens of a growing global commercial market that was driven by a European proto-colonial or colonial presence in America, Asia, and Africa, with little attention paid diplomatic ventures in which questions of power and territorial integrity were far from clear. This paper examines such an instance. It documents the role precious and elaborately crafted automata—self-propelled mimetic objects—played in an annual tribute offering Ottoman Sultans exacted from Holy Roman Emperors from 1547-1593. We shall see that the automata cannot be seen as mere luxury goods that maintained the status quo, but objects whose movement and content permitted Hapsburg rulers to subtly negotiate their empire’s position vis à vis the Ottoman Empire.
Jessica Keating is a Solmsen Fellow with the Institute for Research in the Humanities. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from Northwestern University in 2010 with the support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, and the DAAD Commission. She is the co-editor and contributor to a special issue of the Journal of the History of Collections entitled Captured Objects: Inventories of Early Modern Collections.