Introduction: History and Theories of Diplomacy

  • Thierry BalzacqEmail author
  • Frédéric Charillon
  • Frédéric Ramel
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)


This chapter aims to achieve three things. First, it explores the evolution of diplomacy across history. It argues that the study of diplomacy has till recently tended to treat modern diplomacy as the beginning of all we know about the phenomenon. By doing so, however, it has blurred the distinct origins of large currents of diplomatic practices, institutions, and symbols. Drawing on new research in the field of history, the chapter shows that modern diplomacy owes important features to both the ancient Middle East, on the one hand, and classical periods of Ancient Greece and Roman Republic as well as the Roman Empire, on the other hand. Second, the chapter discusses the concept of diplomacy, asking whether diplomacy has an “essence.” It amends definitions of diplomacy that employs one trait—e.g., representation, communication, or negotiation—to mark out diplomacy from other activities. Third, the chapter presents the rationale and contents of the book, insisting on challenges that lie ahead.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thierry Balzacq
    • 1
    Email author
  • Frédéric Charillon
    • 2
  • Frédéric Ramel
    • 1
  1. 1.Sciences PoParisFrance
  2. 2.University of Clermont AuvergneClermont-FerrandFrance

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