Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel was sent as English ambassador to Emperor Ferdinand II and his son (soon to be Emperor Ferdinand III) in 1636. The embassy was a pretty comprehensive failure. Although Arundel did manage to score himself some sweet books and artworks off some starving Germans, he had not been properly briefed and, frankly, was a bit of a quarrelsome bastard. It was not particularly difficult to offend people at the Habsburg courts (try mentioning chins one too many times…) but Arundel was just rude to everybody.
I have been reading a big book on the Thirty Years’ War* and listening to the parliamentary hearings on phone-hacking on the radio, and all the talk of empires and dynasties and deception has led to, er, this. Thing is, in the 1620s, both sides were basically awful, so hey ho.
These are the relevant historical figures, in case you are wondering.
*Europe’s Tragedy, by Peter H. Wilson. Recommended, for it starts with the following: ‘Shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday 23 May 1618, Vilem Slavata found himself hanging from a window of the Hradschin castle in Prague. This was not a predicament the 46-year-old aristocrat had encountered before.’