Sederi Yearbook 26

Sederi 26
Sederi 26 — 2016
Ana Sáez-Hidalgo
Francisco J. Borge López
María José Mora
ISSN 1135-7789


Susana Oliveira, “‘The intolerable business’: Religion and diplomacy under Elizabeth’s rule.” SEDERI 26 (2016): 159–174.


DOI:                                                     Download PDF



Within the scope of foreign affairs between Portugal and England during Elizabeth’s rule, numerous events indicate the challenges faced by the Portuguese ambassadors on their missions. Regrettably, little is known about these envoys and one rarely finds any reference to their names or their diplomatic accomplishments in Early Modern studies. This paper focuses on a diplomatic incident which involved Francisco Giraldes, a Portuguese resident ambassador in England, aiming to shed some light on “the intolerable business” that led to a confrontation with the Bishop of London, Edwin Sandys. Attending a Catholic Mass in the context of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement involved certain challenges that should be considered. Diplomats, however, enjoyed certain immunities, including the droit de chappelle, and were allowed to hold Catholic services in their ambassadorial residences. But in March 1573, while Mass was being held, Francisco Giraldes’s residence was raided by the Sheriff of London’s men, working under the Bishop of London’s instructions. The ongoing tension between the religious and the political areas of power was, thus, exposed. Two letters, written by the Bishop of London, included in the Lansdowne Manuscripts Collection of the British Library, registered the event. As Sandy’s correspondence appears to be the single piece of surviving evidence regarding this diplomatic incident, it stands to reason that its analysis will provide significant insight into the coexistence, as well as the clash, of oppositional forces, while further contributing to an interpretation of Anglo-Portuguese affairs in Early Modern times.

Keywords: Early Modern; diplomacy; religion; Anglo-Portuguese relations.




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