A History of Diplomacy in the International Development of Europe: Vol I The Struggle for Universal Empire The Organization of Europe Under the Empire byDavid Jayne Hill, LL.D.
It is of primary importance to the comprehension of the present political system of Europe to recall the fact that where we now behold independent and sovereign states, mutually recognized as co-equal in the family of nations, there once existed an empire of universal pretensions and failing little short of universal domination. From the fragments of that empire, broken and dismembered, have arisen the modern national states, founded upon the idea of territorial sovereignty and united in the maintenance of a system of international law and intercourse. The story of that transformation is a necessary preliminary to the full comprehension of European diplomacy; for not only was the formation of independent sovereign states an essential precondition of diplomatic activity in its modem sense, but the persistence of the imperial idea has created many of its most important problems. The history of modern Europe, regarded from a political point of view and broadly considered, is largely centred about the struggle between two ideas, that of imperial rule and that of territorial sovereignty. To understand thoroughly the character of that contest and the political development of Europe as a whole, it is necessary to comprehend the nature and influence of the imperial idea.