The "Quintessential Locus of Brokerage": Letters of Recommendation, Networks, and Mobility in the Life of Thomas Vanandets'i, an Armenian Printer in Amsterdam, 1677–1707
- Journal of World History
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 31, Number 4, December 2020
- pp. 655-692
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This paper examines the role of early modern letters of recommendation as facilitators of trust and mobility across geographic and social networks in the early modern period, a topic neglected by world historians despite their focus on mobility and border crossing. The paper seeks to fill this gap in the scholarship by focusing on the "global microhistory" of Thomas Vanandets'i, an Armenian archbishop and printer who set up an Armenian printing press in Amsterdam in 1695 following his travels there from the South Caucasus. By examining the archbishop's multilingual letters of recommendation that paved his journey, the paper sheds light not only on how Armenians traveled across the many worlds of their early modern diaspora but also more generally on the question of how the ubiquitous yet understudied genre of the letter of recommendation served as the "quintessential locus of brokerage" for travelers and merchants across the early modern world.