Rachel Midura (Virginia Tech)

Wed October 19th 2022, 12:00 - 1:15pm

Trusted Messengers: Postmastery and the Invention of Public Privacy

Precirculated paper. Responses by Merve Tekgürler and Laura Stokes.

The goals, alliances, and antipathies of postal officials shaped both international relations and domestic state-building in the early modern period. This book follows a diaspora of postal agents from Northern Italy across the Habsburg domains and their neighbors. The early modern period (c.1500-1700) saw the export and evolution of a distinct brand of postal service, increasingly associated with one family: the Tassis, later the princes (Grafen) of Thurn und Taxis, who served the Spanish, Imperial, Papal, and Venetian states. Stories of professional self-fashioning weave across bureaucratic documentation, familial correspondence, and legal case files held in the Thurn und Taxis family archives of Regensburg and state archives in northern Italy and Spain. The following chapters balance chronology with perennial conflicts with each reinvention of postal service, from information war through princely patronage. The central thread remains the distinction between what constitutes public and private communications, and by extension, the boundaries between a state and an increasingly commercial civil society.


Please note this is a precirculated paper. Stanford users may access Professor Midura's Letter to Readers here and her precirculated paper here. Non-Stanford users may reach out to cmemsinfo [at] stanford.edu.