Renaissance diplomacy developed between Italian city-states. Relations between these states were influenced by three key elements: no hegemonic power, a strong interest in cooperating, and solving problems through peaceful means. Like the Byzantine Empire, the Italian city-states preferred to use diplomacy as a way of solving disputes. Italian city-states – in particular Venice – also borrowed certain diplomatic techniques from the Byzantines, such as deception, bribery, and espionage. These later became the trademark of Renaissance diplomacy.
During the Renaissance, the first full diplomatic system was established. It consisted of permanent diplomatic missions, diplomatic reporting, and diplomatic privileges. In diplomatic history, it has been widely accepted that the first permanent diplomatic mission was established in 1455, representing the Duke of Milan in Genoa.
Another important development, linked mainly to the Reformation, was the invention of the printing press. This invention had a considerable impact on all functions of society, including diplomacy. The Church’s dominance through parchment-based writing was challenged, and its participation in diplomacy gradually weakened. Clergymen no longer held a monopoly in literacy and were no longer an indispensable part of each diplomatic mission.
During this period of slow and undeveloped transportation and communications, diplomats were among the few who had the privilege of travelling to remote places in search of news. They played an important role in transferring and spreading knowledge and information.
To find out more, join us for the next Masterclass episode ‘Renaissance diplomacy: Compromise as a solution to conflict’, on Thursday, June 24th, at 8am EDT