Article

History of Diplomacy

David Atkinson

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online March 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0013
History of Diplomacy

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Diplomacy encompasses the myriad processes of formal and informal communication between and among states. While evidence of protodiplomatic practices exists from the ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman worlds (especially through envoys), the antecedents of modern diplomatic practices can more properly be traced to medieval and early modern Europe. The emerging states of Europe slowly began to institutionalize formal diplomatic customs and conventions in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, forced as they were to engage with one another for political, geographic, economic, religious, and strategic reasons. Traditionally (and especially since the Renaissance), diplomacy has been conducted by ambassadors and consuls, professional diplomats who function as resident agents of their respective governments in foreign states. Since the early 19th century, the leaders and foreign ministers of the major powers have increasingly opted to conduct direct diplomacy through congresses, conferences, and summits, in addition to dispatching permanent representatives to act on their behalf. There is a vast literature on the history of diplomacy. Much of it is historically oriented, although scholars in international relations and political science have also contributed much to our understanding of diplomacy’s evolving role in the international system. Most of the literature is concerned with delineating and analyzing the major innovations in diplomatic practice from the ancient to the contemporary period. For the most part, the literature is stimulating and coherent. New researchers and novice undergraduates will find it accessible, comprehensible, and easily digestible, and experienced scholars will find much to augment, challenge, and enrich their ongoing research agendas.

Article.  10941 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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