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AHSS History PhD candidate’s archival research in Austria

By Stephen Griffin, PhD candidate with the Department of History

Since the middle of September I have been undertaking research in the Haus-, Hof-, und Staatsarchiv in Vienna. This research is being funded by a Richard Plaschka Pre-doctoral Fellowship, which was awarded by the OeAD, the Austrian agency for international mobility and cooperation in education, science and research, in July of this year. It allows me to reside in Vienna from September 2017 until August 2018. The purpose of this research is to identify and examine archival sources related to the diplomatic experiences of Stuart representatives to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor between 1727 and 1743.

This was a time of various crises and confrontations between the European Powers. George I of Great Britain and Hanover had died in 1727. Austria and France were at war over the succession of Poland from 1733 to 1735 and 1740 saw the death of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, the succession of his daughter Empress Maria Theresa and the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-8). The endeavours of diplomats naturally played an important role in these affairs. For their part, Stuart agents (the Stuart royal family had been in exile since 1688), attempted to influence and gain favour with different courts during this time to secure international support for a Stuart restoration in Great Britain and Ireland.

My research is intended to explore the Stuart diplomatic experience in Vienna and the socio-cultural world in which they lived. Diplomacy at this time was heavily intertwined with noble culture and I also hope to reflect this in my findings. It will determine the extent of Imperial opinion regarded the exiled Stuarts through examination of not only the papers of the Stuart agents themselves but also correspondence from the Imperial ministers with whom they dealt. Stuart primary documents can be notoriously unreliable, often being too biased and/or optimistic regarding their political situation. Therefore, it is necessary to use the Austrian archives to uncover a more detached third party perspective which can allow us to form a better understanding of the diplomatic world of the Stuarts in exile.

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