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

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