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Diplomacy, war and peace, 1000-1600


Admission requirements

Entry test. See Reading list.


Diplomacy and conflict, allies and enemies, public and private, Medieval and Early Modern – all dichotomies. Or not. This seminar will explore the ways in which diplomacy influenced international relations, especially in times of conflict and during peace negotiations. The Renaissance has traditionally been considered as the formative period of modern diplomacy. Recent scholarship however, emphasises the dynamic aspects and anticipations of medieval diplomacy. Next to the functions of ambassador, consul, and nuncio attention will be paid to a variety of topics such as negotiating, information gathering, representation in a system of shared sovereignty, short-term embassies, cross cultural relations, honour, and marriage alliances.
When the state did not yet execute a monopoly of violence, other representatives than those of the state, the so-called non state actors, like the church, leagues, cities and merchants, played an important role in foreign relations and negotiations. How did those involved in diplomacy respond to threats and acts of violence and war? Could they use the situation to their own benefit? The ways in which the interaction of public and private initiatives caused diplomacy and conflict to create opportunities in foreign relations will also be examined.
As non-state actors play a growing role in present day international relations, the study of premodern diplomacy promises to be surprisingly relevant to developments now.

Course objectives

Students acquire insights into the relations between diplomacy, and war and peace issues in medieval and Renaissance Europe, with a certain focus on the Low Countries. They learn how to conduct research into published and unpublished administrative and other sources. Students are also expected to give an oral presentation and to write a paper in which they formulate and discuss a hypothesis in the form of a well-structured argument.


See here.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar.

Course Load

10 EC.

Assessment method

Paper (50%), oral presentation (25%), participation in discussions (25%)


Will be used for the exchange of information, bibliographies etc.

Reading list

Required reading for the entry test which will take place during the first class:

  • M.S. Anderson, _The rise of modern diplomacy, 1450-1919 (New York 1993) 1-40.

  • J. Black, A history of diplomacy (London 2010) 7-58.

  • G. Mattingly, Renaissance diplomacy (Boston 1955). The book is temporarily unavailable at the University Library, for the time being it is also accessible via this link.

  • S.C. Neff, War and the law of nations: a general history (Cambridge 2005) 1-80.

All books will be available at the university library, except for Neff’s book which is available at the library of the law faculty.
Further reading requirements will be announced during the course


via uSis.

Contact information

E-mail: Dr. L.J. Sicking.