Text and Picture in Habsburg Diplomacy at the Sublime Porte (16th – 18th centuries)
Keywords:Habsburg-Ottoman diplomacy, Sublime Porte, visual and pictorial media, text-picture interactions.
In this article we intend to analyze the role of text and picture in Habsburg Diplomacy at the Sublime Porte (16th – 18th centuries). Texts and pictures – objects of written and pictorial communication – were connected in various ways. The aim is to get an insight into these connections, especially with regard to the Early Modern Habsburg diplomatic mission in Constantinople, which, so far, has not been studied from this specific perspective. The article is divided as follows: firstly, the most important characteristics of the diplomatic contacts between the Habsburgs and the Ottomans are shortly outlined; hence this part of the essay provides the political context. Secondly, the first part is followed by an overview of the visual and pictorial media which were used in diplomatic communication. In the third part a case study will be presented in which the interactions between texts and pictures will be analyzed in more detail.
We will conclude that in accordance with the pluralistic media landscape which characterized the Habsburg-Ottoman diplomacy, numerous combinations of text and picture can be found. Of course, one can recall texts without illustration, e.g. the political correspondence, but only rarely pictures were used on their own, without a title, caption or explanatory text. Three types of text-picture interactions can be differentiated: firstly, the connection could be rather simple e.g. when short captions of a portrait served to identify the depicted person; secondly, the connection could be more complex when text and images were spatially and/or graphically separated; finally, it was also possible that the content of the text clearly exceeded the information conveyed by the picture. In this case, the picture illustrates a sub-theme of the text.