I’m trying to create an ambassador-type character and while it’s possible for me to get all the skills and traits I need from a combination of different lifepaths I still find it ridiculous that an ambassador lifepath doesn’t actually exist. It’s possible that it’s there and I’m just missing it somehow but I’ve looked and I don’t see anything that resembles what I would consider an ambassador so I’m thinking of creating one since I feel like this is an unpleasant oversight. Current thoughts for the lifepath are based loosely around the Court Lawyer lp and are as follows - (any thoughts would be greatly appreciated thanks!)
If I recall correctly, the official word on the lack of an abassador lIfepath is that the idea of a full time, professional diplomatic service is a distinctly modern one. We don’t really see resident ambassadors of the kind that we’re used to thinking of pop up until the very end of the middle ages, and the practice doesn’t become wide spread until the renaissance.
Yeah, there are good examples of this in the HBO program “The Tudors.” It’s a show set during the reign of Henry VIII. In the show, we see LOTS of Ambassadors, but the truth is, they’re all mostly minor nobles (or major - several times Henry VIII sends his friend, a duke, to act as his ambassador).
If you squint carefully at the English words we use for embassies and diplomacy, you can see hints of the old style. Ambassadors run “missions,” for example, which is exactly the deal - in the old days, the king sent an ambassador on a specific task, say, to negotiate a particular agreement, and that was that. Not to say a guy couldn’t get sent again and again, but in general, not for longer than, say, a year.
Another thing to keep in mind is that kings in this period would use the same guys for several different functions. There was a lot of movement between jobs, at the whim of the king or the needs of the moment. So in England, you might have a guy who has no title for years, but you know he’s an advisor to the court because he witnesses a lot of charters. He’s doing something for the king. You might have another guy who works as a justice for years, gets a post as sheriff, then gets handed custody of a vacant bishopric to manage. The same guy might also be sent on an embassy. They didn’t differentiate function as much as we do today.
Also, you should check out Hostage. The distinction was sometimes pretty fine.
I remember reading an article about how early modern diplomats were just guys who got sent to another country with a big chest of money, that they exhausted pretty quickly, and would rarely be replenished from home, so they were usually broke, and didn’t actually know more about what was going on at home than the the people they were supposed to negotiating with. They sometimes had to turn to smuggling and espionage just to pay the bills, and were often TERRIBLY unqualified.
I remember reading The Grand Strategy of Philip II, and it was noted that one of the factors that contributed to his perception that he could micromanage his Empire was that he had a modern-style professional diplomatic service - the only one of its kind in Europe. The French ambassador to Spain relied on the Spanish postal system to deliver confidential messages. Needless to say, Philip II ended up in possession of copies of many of them.
Also, during the entire period of the Thirty Years War, England had, IIRC, no permanent diplomatic representation in the Holy Roman Empire. When King James I of England was attempting to mediate in the dispute over the Palatinate, he sent over his favourite the Duke of Buckingham with an entourage of about a hundred noblemen at ruinous expense. Naturally, nobody took it seriously.