The Spanish Faction in the Imperial Court (1548–1659)
The Spanish Kings were the elder relatives of the Holy Roman Emperors as well as the most powerful princes in early modern Europe. The tools they employed to influence imperial policy were far from the image of classical diplomacy. We propose a new model to understand the birth of diplomacy out of a state and institutional framework but as the extension of familiar ties in a courtly environment. Our clue is the "Spanish Faction", the network of imperial courtiers more or less devoted to the service of the Spanish King. We aim to identify how, through the exercise of patronage and the building of a cultural soft power, it was possible to lobby and to condition the decision-making process of an important court. The database records these individuals who simultaneously rendered services to the imperial and Spanish royal families and the graces and benefices they obtained in exchange.