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Renaissance Diplomacy and the Reformation

Date: 1989

Renaissance diplomacy developed between Italian city-states. Relationships between these states were influenced by two key elements: no hegemonic power and a strong interest in cooperating and solving problems through peaceful means. Like Byzantine in the previous period, the Italian city-states preferred to use diplomacy as a force in solving disputes among themselves. From Byzantine, the city-states – in particular Venice – also borrowed some diplomatic techniques such as deception, bribery, and espionage. These became the trademark of Renaissance diplomacy.

In the Renaissance era, the first full diplomatic system, consisting of permanent diplomatic missions, diplomatic reporting, and diplomatic privileges, was established. It is widely accepted in diplomatic history 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. The Church’s participation in diplomacy gradually started to ebb. Clergymen no longer held a monopoly in literacy. They were no longer an indispensable part of every 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 the transfer and spread of knowledge and information.

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