This article examines interactions between diplomatic representation, state bureaucracy, and rhetoric in early modern diplomacy. It analyzes manuscripts in the hand of the poet Andrew Marvell, which he wrote as secretary to the Earl of Carlisle’s 1663–64 embassy to Moscow. The manuscripts show how a battle over diplomatic ceremony and honor unfolded into disputes over the forms and decorum used in a lively exchange of diplomatic letters and written complaints. These texts were edited, translated, and published for English and international audiences by another embassy secretary, Guy Miège. The article traces the afterlife of the embassy letters in print, arguing that Marvell and Miège became central agents in shaping how the embassy was perceived at home and further afield. The wider context of public diplomacy drew from the secretaries’ considerable skill in framing diplomatic letters for consumption by different audiences. Early modern ambassadors performed rituals of sovereignty, symbolizing status and rank, but the complex art of diplomatic image-making was also directed by lower-ranking embassy personnel. Examining the relationship between bureaucratic practices and the performative nature of diplomacy, this article shows how secretaries exerted significant influence on the reception of early modern diplomatic relations.

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