‘Fishing after News’ and the Ars Apodemica: The Intelligencing Role of the Educational Traveller in the Late Sixteenth Century
AbstractThis is the final version of the chapter. Available from Brill via the DOI in this record.
The subject of this chapter is the sending of news and information from English travellers abroad to the governing circles of late Elizabethan England. A stay abroad carried with it an expectation that casual travellers, to protect and evidence their moral, spiritual and physical health, would make themselves useful, and thus loyal, servants of their domestic government: I will argue that one key method of doing so was by transmitting news and information. Immediately, this invites questions regarding what and who exactly is being discussed. Although I will not fully explore here the complexities of what is meant by ‘news’, ‘knowledge’ and (political) ‘intelligence’, rough distinctions between these terms are implicated in the primary focus of this chapter. These distinctions and the associations they carry bear directly on how we and contemporaries regard the individual who gathers information. This is because the intention and motivation for travel define and justify the traveller: the inflection of their information-gathering activity matters. The crux is that there is an indistinctness surrounding who the traveller is and what they are travelling for; a blurred status or lack of definition that means that the traveller provides a valuable opportunity for access (to news, to people, to places), but also that they are at risk of suspicion and the accusation of immorality, whether they present as the nobleman or gentleman, the ambitious scholar or the employed agent, the youth or the tutor. I would argue that this ambiguity pivots on the kind of information the individual is expected or is seen to gather: in reductive terms, whether it is perceived as defensible learning, infective intelligence or common news.[...]
In: News Networks in Early Modern Europe, edited by Joad Raymond and Noah Moxham, chapter 23, pp. 542-562