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A History of Diplomacy in the International Development of Europe: Vol I The Struggle for Universal Empire
by David Jayne Hill, LL.D.

Although special questions and particular periods of diplomatic history have been carefully studied and ably discussed by historical writers, it is a noteworthy fact that no general history of European diplomacy exists in any language.

A history of diplomacy properly includes not only an account of the progress of international intercourse, but an exposition of the motives by which it has been inspired and the results which it has accomplished,. But even this statement does not fully express the scope of such a history; for an intelligent discussion of the subject must include also a consideration of the genesis of the entire international system and of its progress through the successive stages of its development. Thus regarded, it becomes apparent that the whole fabric of present international relations is the result of past diplomatic activity.

Two practical problems have presented themselves in the execution of this work. The first has arisen from the enormous field of research now offered by the archives of European governments and the necessity of fixing definite limits to the plan of treatment. The rich harvest already gleaned by the labors of special investigators greatly facilitates a task which would have been impossible twenty-five years ago, and now seems to invite a general synthesis of the results attained. it is, in truth, in the wealth of materials that a writer on diplomatic history finds his chief embarrassment. With the conviction that history is of value in proportion as it affords explanation, it has seemed best to adhere closely to the main current of causality in the development of the existing system of European relations. It is, accordingly, as the title indicates, the history of diplomacy only as related to the international development of Europe as a whole, which constitutes the subject of the present work. Negotiations, treaties, and conventions that fall outside of these lines, however important they may be to the diplomatic history of particular countries, possess but little general interest; but, by adhering to events of European importance,it is possible to thread the diplomatic labyrinth without confusion and to present the results of investigation within reasonable limits.

A second problem in the preparation of this work has been to determine the proper point of departure. It is customary to regard the Congress and Peace of Westphalia as the starting-point of European diplomacy, but this is principally due to the fact that so little has been known of earlier diplomatic activity. The truth is, that the Congress and Peace of Westphalia, while furnishing the international code of Europe, were the fruits of a long period of preparation whose movements provide the only key to the meaning of that code. It is necessary, therefore, if one would thoroughly comprehend the diplomacy of modem times, to return to the real point of origin of those elements which together constitute the present public law and international usages of Europe, and to trace their development step by step down to the period of their final organization as a system.The adequate execution of this plan requires a long and serious investigation, and cannot be discharged with mere summary statements or rapid generalizations; for the present international organization of the world strikes its roots deep into the past, and has been determined by a multitude of confluent streams of influence. Europe, in particular, is still largely governed by its memories; and to master the history of European diplomacy is to dispel the illusion that the present relations of civilized states are fortuitous, arbitrary, or changeable at will.

It is, perhaps, at present worth the effort to point out the fact that the fixed legal and conventional relations between modern states are as firmly grounded in public needs and fundamental principles as the constitutions of the different countries which compose the international system. It is true that force has been a determining element in the conflicts of nations, as it is in the maintenance of civil order within the State; but it is not mere aimless or undirected force that bas produced the present international system. On the contrary, it is due to the gradual perception of the conditions on which human governments can be permanently based. It is the result of reasoned policy and deliberately formed conventions in restraint of force, - the triumph of statesmanship and diplomacy, not shaped and determined by military action,but controlling the movements of armies and navies whose coercive powers are put in action only by decisions reached after deliberation at the council board.

More than any other form of history, perhaps, that of diplomacy brings into prominence in its plenitude the psychological element, the constructive value of human plan and purpose. It reveals the mind of an individual, or the sagacity of a group of statesmen, grasping the conditions of a situation in which vast combinations of force may be thwarted by other combinations, and the interests of a nation, or of civilization itself, secured by a sound public policy.

In a preeminent degree this form of history discloses the evolution of progressive ideals, not in the form of abstract theories, but in the concrete connections of practical experience; thus furnishing to the political philosopher a broad and fertile field of observation and induction. Exposing in the process of elaboration the efforts of great minds to solve the large problems of international peace, it becomes a useful discipline in correcting the illusions of the visionary philanthropist and in forming the mind of the statesman.

The present volume, on "The Struggle for Universal Empire," and the following, on "The Establishment of Territorial Sovereignty," may be regarded as indicating the foundations of modem diplomacy. They trace the tragic history of the rise and conflict of two great international institutions, the Empire and the Papacy, the defeat of their ambitions, and the development of modem national states. In future volumes it is intended to consider the Diplomacy of the Age of Absolutism, of the Revolutionary Era, of the Constitutional Movement, and of Commercial Imperialism, thus bringing the history of international development down to the present time. Each volume, however, is intended to be for the period which it covers a complete work in itself.

An effort has been made to render the text of use and interest to the general reader. For the benefit of those interested in the sources from which the materials have been derived, or who may wish to make a more detailed examination of special questions, a list of authorities, documentary and literary, with suggestions and comments, has been appended to each chapter. The bibliography is intended, however, to be a selection rather than an inventory, and has been constructed with the purpose of indicating the works consulted and likely to prove most useful for reference.

No pains have been spared to provide such historical maps and tables as may be needed to throw light upon the text and to resolve questions of geography and chronology. A chronological list of treaties and other public acts and a separate index have been added to each volume.

The author takes this occasion to express to all the numerous persons, private and official, at Washington, Paris, The Hague, Rome, Berne, Geneva, and elsewhere, who have courteously aided him, the sincere thanks which it would require many pages to acknowledge to each according to the nature of the service rendered.


Geneva, Switzerland,
February 1, 1905.


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