Accessing Past Secrets

Accessing Past Secrets Archival Practices in the Swiss Republics Early modern archives were sites of public as well as secret information. This subproject investigates what measures early modern republics took to store and protect state secrets over time. How did the presence of such records affect the spatial organisation of the archives? Who was allowed to access the arcana imperii, and which political and social possibilities were attached to this privilege? These and other questions will be researched on the basis of both archival and printed records from selected Swiss city and rural cantons. The temporal focus will be on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with special attention to the period from 1680 to 1720, when many public archives within the Confederacy were substantially reorganised in the context of growing political tensions and the emergence of new printed media. Conducted by Jan Haugner

Producing Public Secrets

Producing Public Secrets Secret Councils in the Swiss Republic In late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century, numerous consultative bodies known as ‘secret councils’ emerged on the European political scene – not only in monarchies but also in republics. In collectively governed states, questions about the practicability and legitimacy of secrecy arose in a different way than in monarchies, since the secret councils were not only advisors to the sovereign, but were themselves part of the sovereign government. The PhD project within the framework of sub-project B aims to shed light on this topic systematically and in a comparative perspective. Using selected republics within the Swiss Confederacy as case studies, it will shed light on the different roles and functions of the secret councils by analysing the so-called secret manuals and correspondence, but also diaries and pictorial sources. Conducted by Debora Heim

Debating Secrecy

Debating Secrecy The Swiss Republic in the European Context Subproject A investigates how the tension between secrecy and collective government was discussed in early modern printed sources. Were the concepts of res publica and arcana imperii seen as opposites – or did republican sovereignty in the seventeenth century presuppose precisely the capacity for secrecy? For the reconstruction of these European intellectual discourses, the subproject will analyse in depth works of political theory as well as early modern state descriptions, travel literature, and works of historiography on selected republics. A selection of these sources will be made generally available via the project homepage. In a second step, the subproject will focus on the Swiss Confederacy, drawing on additional material including unpublished archival sources. The aim of this endeavour is to investigate the development of secrecy regimes in Switzerland in the longue durée. Conducted by Nadir Weber

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