lighting, Diplomacy

The telegraph: How it changed diplomacy [A historical journey #7]

26 August 2021


Event description

Join us in our next journey through the history of diplomacy and technology. In our August webinar, we will discuss two decisive developments: the invention of the telegraph and the Vienna Congress of 1814/15.

LATEST: Listen to our podcast interview with Tom Standage, author of The Victorian Internet

In this great discussion, Dr Kurbalija and Mr Standage talk about the impact that the invention of the telegraph had on the geopolitics of the time.

The key technological invention of the 19th century was the telegraph, which effectively detached communication from transportation. Until the invention of the telegraph, the speed and reliability of communication depended on different means of transportation available at the time, such as foot messengers, horsemen, or ships.


On the diplomatic side, 1814/15 Congress of Vienna laid the foundation for modern diplomacy, including the introduction of diplomatic precedent and diplomatic ranks. The period between the Congress of Vienna and World War I was often described as a golden age of diplomacy, which managed to secure one of the most peaceful periods in recent history.

During this period, structural developments took place in both communications technology and diplomacy. The telegraph gradually became part of daily life, and a global telecommunications network began emerging. Diplomatic relations moved from ad hoc meetings to an organised system consisting of diplomatic services, international organisations, and habitual international gatherings.

To discuss the impact of the telegraph on diplomacy, join us for our summer episode of the Masterclass with Jovan Kurbalija: ‘The telegraph: How it changed diplomacy’, on Thursday, August 26th, at 14:00 CEST.

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