Welcome to the Diplomatic Correspondence of Thomas Bodley (1585-1597) project at the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, in partnership with the Bodleian Library. This project is built on open source data, all of which is freely available here. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Thomas Bodley is well known for his bibliographical activities and his benefaction of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, but his prior career as a diplomat has been largely overlooked, despite being celebrated by his contemporaries. A large and comprehensive corpus of letters survives from the twelve years he was on diplomatic business, during initial extraordinary missions as a special envoy to various European sovereigns between 1585-88, and then his long residence in The Hague during his post as English representative on the Council of State for the United Provinces (Netherlands) from 1588-97. These letters, previously unedited and unpublished, are a valuable interdisciplinary resource to scholars of religious, social, cultural, geographical, military and political history. The letters also offer an important understanding of the information networks and patronage structures between official and semi-official diplomatic agents and their patrons in the later sixteenth-century.

The letters of Thomas Bodley relating to his diplomatic activity between 1585-97 will be released in chronological sections. This is Version 5 of the edition. This Version comprises incoming and outgoing letters written in English between Thomas Bodley and his correspondents during the years 1585-97.

This edition of sixteenth-century letters pioneers a unique transcription method. The letters have been encoded in such a way as to permit readers to custom-build their own transcripts, according to their research preferences. For instance, a general reader may wish to view the letters in their complete, non-abbreviated form, while a scholar interested in orthographic and material features of the period will want to see these reproduced in the transcripts. For more information, see settings. Customisable transcripts enable the reader to engage with the text according to their own research needs. Users will be able to mediate the texts to their own specification. Citation of the transcripts takes into account the alternative elements available to view or mask.

This project is Phase One of two phases. The first phase focuses on the Diplomatic Correspondence and transcribes all letters in English relating to Bodley’s diplomatic experience. The second phase will concentrate on Thomas Bodley’s correspondence relating to his re-establishment of the Old Library in Oxford, and will constitute a substantial portion of unpublished letters, as well as revisit the eighteenth- and mid-twentieth century editions of correspondence between Bodley and his first Librarian, Thomas James.

The editor and project director of the Diplomatic Correspondence of Thomas Bodley is Dr Robyn Adams. The Research Assistant is Elizabeth Williamson. Technical aspects of the project, including the website, are the responsibility of Dr Matthew Symonds, CELL's Technical Research Officer. Stay up-to-date with project developments and new releases: join the CELL mailing list.


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