From the Late Middle Ages to the Peace of Westphalia

Martin Kintzinger

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199599752
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

 From the Late Middle Ages to the Peace of Westphalia

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Law
  • History of Law
  • International Law


Show Summary Details


This chapter argues that international law as such did not exist in medieval European history as a codified legal norm as it did from 1648 onwards. The search for normativity in international political and diplomatic communication was a major political objective throughout the whole Middle Ages, from the Carolingian period up to the 15th century. At all times, practical challenges came first and theories on international normativities always followed practice. The instruments of a symbolic culture at the courts were useful to practically organize international diplomacy, as for instance during meetings between princes or at ceremonies of reception. To be a sovereign prince meant not to accept any superiors. Finally, sovereign princes could not accept the emperor’s nor the pope’s, nor anyone else’s superiority, but only an idea of an a priori and superior universal normativity.

Keywords: International law; medieval European history; diplomatic communication; international diplomacy; superior universal normativity; sovereign princes

Article.  10214 words. 

Subjects: Law ; History of Law ; International Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.