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Spa Diplomacy: Charlotte Schimmelmann at Bad Pyrmont, 1789–94

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One of the most popular European spas in the latter half of the eighteenth century was Bad Pyrmont. Though the spa is often depicted as a predominantly female space, male monarchs and diplomats were also prominent among Bad Pyrmont’s guests. Taking Carolyn James’ and Glenda Sluga’s statement that ‘Not all diplomatic sociability was about the salon, but all diplomacy still turned around the utility of sociability’ as a point of departure, this article examines the interplay between sociability and diplomacy at the spa, seen through the letters of a Danish noblewoman and wife to aminister from several stays at the spa between 1789 and 1794. Charlotte Schimmelmann, who is also known as a salonnière in Danish historiography, met with diplomats from other European states at the spa. I argue that Charlotte Schimmelmann’s participation in the spa’s sociability and rituals enabled her to interact with political figures and create a network of European contacts. Her role as an informal diplomatic agent and adviser included gathering information in advance of the Danish crown prince’s visit to Bad Pyrmont in 1794, as well as dining with the royals during the visit. Through the experiences of an elite woman, the article demonstrates that the spa was a diplomatic space, and that both men and women participated in its informal, diplomatic sociability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational History Review
Number of pages13
ISSN0707-5332
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 2021

    Research areas

  • Charlotte Schimmelmann, Diplomacy, eighteenth century, gender, spa

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