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Explore the political and personal narratives of the territorial wars and dynastic rivalries of eighteenth century Europe and its borderlands
State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century, 1714-1782 Part IV presents, digitised for the first time, the letters, memorials and treaties pertaining to Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Saxony, Prussia, Russia, Turkey and the Barbary States. It also includes papers sent to the British Secretaries of State from foreign ministers in England, as well as ‘confidential’ and intercepted letters between key figures in international politics. Eighteenth century scholars will find new insights into international attitudes to Britain and the condition of Europe, as colonial ambitions, dynastic alliances and emerging trade networks were all widely discussed.
These series of State Papers complete the picture of European statecraft and diplomacy presented throughout the State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century collection.
Part IV covers nations and events at the borders of Europe and European power, from Russia emerging as an imperial force in the North as Sweden’s power declined after the Great Northern War (1700-1721), to piracy and conflict in the Mediterranean, wars and treaties with the Ottoman Empire at the outer reaches of Russia and Austria, and the constant building up of armies and fleets to bolster status and secure territories. Discussion of colonial schemes and wars was a key part of the diplomatic chatter crossing eighteenth century Europe, particularly during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), when European machinations in the West Indies, the Americas and India had far-reaching consequences.
The papers relating to Prussia, a crucial power in Europe throughout the century, allow researchers to access consular correspondence and personal views surrounding the mid-century shift in continental alliances known as the Diplomatic Revolution. The start of the Seven Years’ War saw Britain allied with Prussia under Frederick the Great, and France allied to Austria, in a direct switch of allegiances from those of the earlier War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). Elsewhere, Prussian, Russian, and Swedish armies kept a vulnerable Poland in a state of near-constant turmoil and nibbled at Polish possessions throughout the century, setting the stage for the decisive partitions after 1772, the first of which is covered in this collection.
Elsewhere, documents follow the rise of Russia as a European power under Peter the Great and, later, Catherine the Great; British concerns over the power balance in northern Europe meant relations with Russia and the in-fighting of the imperial court were closely monitored, as well as Russian intentions towards not only Britain, but Denmark, Norway and Sweden. For those interested in national history, the reports of the ambassadors provide a commentary on the comings and goings of diplomats, spies, nobles and ministers at the royal courts as well as on court directives, gossip, internal power politics and the health of the ruler.
Manuscript series (The National Archives, UK) in Part IV include:
- SP71 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Barbary States
- SP75 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Denmark
- SP88 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Poland and Saxony
- SP90 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Prussia
- SP91 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Russia
- SP95 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Sweden
- SP97 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Turkey
- SP100 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Foreign Ministers (in England)
- SP103 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Treaty Papers
- SP104 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Entry Books
- SP106 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Ciphers
- SP107 Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Confidential
"The archive provides an open window into the ascension of Great Britain as a colonial and world power in the 1700s. As such, it is a core resource for understanding 18th-century political, social, and economic British and European history."
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