Diplomacy (from Latin diploma, meaning an official document, which in turn derives from the Greek δίπλωμα, meaning a folded paper/document) is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states. It usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through the intercession of professional diplomats with regard to issues of peace-making, trade, war, economics, culture, environment and human rights. International treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians. In an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge, one set of tools being the phrasing of statements in a non-confrontational, or polite manner. The scholarly discipline of diplomatics, dealing with the study of old documents, derives its name from the same source, but its modern meaning is quite distinct from the activity of diplomacy.
Further information: Foreign relations of Imperial China
One of the earliest realists in international relations theory was the 6th century BC military strategist Sun Tzu (d. 496 BC), author of The Art of War. He lived during a time in which rival states were starting to pay less attention to traditional respects of tutelage to the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC) figurehead monarchs while each vied for power and total conquest. However, a great deal of diplomacy in establishing allies, bartering land, and signing peace treaties was necessary for each warring state, and the idealized role of the "persuader/diplomat" developed.
From the Battle of Baideng (200 BC) to the Battle of Mayi (133 BC), the Han Dynasty was forced to uphold a marriage alliance and pay an exorbitant amount of tribute (in silk, cloth, grain, and other foodstuffs) to the powerful northern nomadic Xiongnu that had been consolidated by Modu Shanyu. After the Xiongnu sent word to Emperor Wen of Han (r. 180–157) that they controlled areas stretching from Manchuria to the Tarim Basin oasis city-states, a treaty was drafted in 162 BC proclaiming that everything north of the Great Wall belong to nomads' lands, while everything south of it would be reserved for Han Chinese. The treaty was renewed no less than nine times, but did not restrain some Xiongnu tuqi from raiding Han borders. That was until the far-flung campaigns of Emperor Wu of Han (r. 141–87 BC) which shattered the unity of the Xiongnu and allowed Han to conquer the Western Regions; under Wu, in 104 BC the Han armies ventured as far Fergana in Central Asia to battle the Yuezhi who had conquered Hellenistic Greek areas.
Portraits of Periodical Offering, a 6th-century Chinese painting portraying various emissaries; ambassadors depicted in the painting ranging from those of Hephthalites, Persia to Langkasuka, Baekje(part of the modern Korea), Qiuci, and Wo (Japan).
The Koreans and Japanese during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) looked to the Chinese capital of Chang'an as the hub of civilization and emulated its central bureaucracy as the model of governance. The Japanese sent frequent embassies to China in this period, although they halted these trips in 894 when the Tang seemed on the brink of collapse. After the devastating An Shi Rebellion from 755 to 763, the Tang Dynasty was in no position to reconquer Central Asia and the Tarim Basin. After several conflicts with the Tibetan Empire spanning several different decades, the Tang finally made a truce and signed a peace treaty with them in 841.
In the 11th century during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), there were cunning ambassadors such as Shen Kuo and Su Song who achieved diplomatic success with the Liao Dynasty, the often hostile Khitan neighbor to the north. Both diplomats secured the rightful borders of the Song Dynasty through knowledge of cartography and dredging up old court archives. There was also a triad of warfare and diplomacy between these two states and the Tangut Western Xia Dynasty to the northwest of Song China (centered in modern-day Shaanxi). After warring with the Lý Dynasty of Vietnam from 1075 to 1077, Song and Lý made a peace agreement in 1082 to exchange the respective lands they had captured from each other during the war.
Long before the Tang and Song dynasties, the Chinese had sent envoys into Central Asia, India, and Persia, starting with Zhang Qian in the 2nd century BC. Another notable event in Chinese diplomacy was the Chinese embassy mission of Zhou Daguan to the Khmer Empire of Cambodia in the 13th century. Chinese diplomacy was a necessity in the distinctive period of Chinese exploration. Since the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), the Chinese also became heavily invested in sending diplomatic envoys abroad on maritime missions into the Indian Ocean, to India, Persia, Arabia, East Africa, and Egypt. Chinese maritime activity was increased dramatically during the commercialized period of the Song Dynasty, with new nautical technologies, many more private ship owners, and an increasing amount of economic investors in overseas ventures.
During the Mongol Empire (1206–1294) the Mongols created something similar to today's diplomatic passport called paiza. The paiza were in three different types (golden, silver, and copper) depending on the envoy's level of importance. With the paiza, there came authority that the envoy can ask for food, transport, place to stay from any city, village, or clan within the empire with no difficulties.
From the 17th century the Qing Dynasty concluded a series of treaties with Czarist Russia, beginning with the Treaty of Nerchinsk in the year 1689. This was followed up by the Aigun Treaty and the Convention of Peking in the mid-19th century.
As European power spread around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries so too did its diplomatic model, and Asian countries adopted European diplomatic systems.
Rama and Lakshmana Receive Envoys, Page from a Dispersed Ramayana Series, ca. 1634.
Ancient India, with its kingdoms and dynasties, had a long tradition of diplomacy. The oldest treatise on statecraft and diplomacy, Arthashastra, is attributed to Kautilya (also known as Chanakya), who was the principal adviser to Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty who ruled in the 3rd century BC, (whose capital was Patliputra, today's Patna, the chief city of Bihar state). Arthashastra is a complete work on the art of kingship, with long chapters on taxation and on the raising and maintenance of armies. It also incorporates a theory of diplomacy, of how in a situation of mutually contesting kingdoms, the wise king build alliances and tries to checkmate his adversaries. The envoys sent at the time to the courts of other kingdoms tended to reside for extended periods of time, and Arthashastra contains advice on the deportment of the envoy, including the trenchant suggestion that 'he should sleep alone'. The highest morality for the king is that his kingdom should prosper.
 Ancient roots
The ability to practice diplomacy is one of the defining elements of a state, diplomacy has been practiced since the inception of civilization. In Europe, diplomacy begins with the first city-states formed in ancient Greece. Diplomats were sent only for specific negotiations, and would return immediately after their mission concluded. Diplomats were usually relatives of the ruling family or of very high rank in order to give them legitimacy when they sought to negotiate with the other state.
The origins of diplomacy are in the strategic and competitive exchange of impressive gifts, which may be traced to the Bronze Age and recognized as an aspect of Homeric guest-friendship. Thus diplomacy and trade have been inexorably linked from the outset. "In the framework of diplomatic relations it was customary for Byzantine emperors and Muslim rulers, especially the 'Abbāsids and the Fātimids, as well as for Muslim rulers between themselves, to exchange precious gifts, with which they attempted to impress or surpass their counterparts," remarks David Jacoby, in the context of the economics of silk in cultural exchange among Byzantium, Islam and the Latin West: merchants accompanied emissaries, who often traveled on commercial ships. At a later date, it will be recalled that the English adventurer and trader Anthony Sherley convinced the Persian ruler to send the first Persian embassy to Europe (1599–1602).
 Ancient Greece
Main article: Proxenos
The Greek City States on some occasions sent envoys to each other in order to negotiate specific issues, such as war and peace or commercial relations, but did not have diplomatic representatives regularly posted in each other's territory. However, some of the functions given to modern diplomatic representatives were in Classical Greece filled by a proxenos, who was a citizen of the host city having a particular relations of friendship with another city – a relationship often hereditary in a particular family.
 Ancient Egypt, Canaan, and Hittite Empire
Some of the earliest known diplomatic records are the Amarna letters written between the pharaohs of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt and the Amurru rulers of Canaan during the 14th century BC. Following the Battle of Kadesh in c. 1274 BC during the Nineteenth dynasty, the pharaoh of Egypt and ruler of the Hittite Empire created one of the first known international peace treaties which survives in stone tablet fragments.
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The foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire were characterized by competition with the Persian Empire to the east and Europe to the west. The foreign relations of the Ottomans collapsed after the Young Turks took over the empire in 1908 and this led to the loss of many important territories. Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria proclaimed its independence, and eventually all the Arab lands became independent.
The Ottoman Empire's diplomatic structure was unconventional and departed in many ways from its European counterparts.
Ambassadors from the Ottoman Empire were usually appointed on a temporary and limited basis, as opposed to the resident ambassadors sent by other European nations. The Ottomans sent 145 temporary envoys to Venice between 1384 and 1600. The first resident Ottoman ambassador was not seen until Yusuf Agah Efendi was sent to London in 1798.
Ambassadors to the Ottoman Empire began arriving shortly after the fall of Constantinople. The first was Bartelemi Marcello from Venice in 1454. The French ambassador Jean de la Forèt later arrived in 1535. In 1583, the ambassadors from Venice and France would attempt unsuccessfully to block William Harborne of England from taking up residence in Istanbul. This move was repeated by Venice, France and England in trying to block Dutch ambassador Cornelius Haga in 1612.
Main article: Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire
Capitulations were a unique practice of Muslim diplomacy that was adopted by Ottoman rulers. In legal and technical terms, they were unilateral agreements made by the Sultan to a nation's merchants. These agreements were temporary, and subject to renewal by subsequent Sultans. The origins of the capitulations comes from Harun al Rashid and his dealings with the Frankish kingdoms, but they were also used by both his successors and by the Byzantine Empire.
The Ottoman Empire was a crucial part of the European states system and actively played a role in their affairs, due in part to their coterminous periods of development.
Towards the end of the 15th century, the Ottomans began to play a larger role in the Italian Peninsula. In 1494, both the Papacy and the Kingdom of Naples petitioned the Sultan directly for his assistance against Charles VIII of France in the First Italian War.
Ottoman policy towards Europe during the 16th century was one of disruption against the Habsburg dynasties. The Ottomans collaborated with Francis I of France and his Protestant allies in the 1530s while fighting the Habsburgs. Although the French had sought an alliance with the Ottomans as early as 1531, one was not concluded until 1536. The sultan then gave the French freedom of trade throughout the empire, and plans were drawn up for an invasion of Italy from both the north and the south in 1537.
Francis I later admitted to a Venetian ambassador that the Ottoman Empire was the only thing that prevented Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor from creating a Europe-wide empire under Habsburg dominion.
Later, the Dutch would ally with the Ottomans. Prince William of Orange coordinated his strategic moves with those of the Ottomans during the Turkish negotiations with Philip II of Spain in the 1570s. After the Habsburgs inherited the Portuguese crown in 1580, Dutch forces attacked their Portuguese trading rivals while the Turks, supportive of the Dutch bid for independence, attacked the Habsburgs in Eastern Europe.
In Europe, early modern diplomacy's origins are often traced to the states of Northern Italy in the early Renaissance, with the first embassies being established in the 13th century. Milan played a leading role, especially under Francesco Sforza who established permanent embassies to the other city states of Northern Italy. Tuscany and Venice were also flourishing centres of diplomacy from the 14th century onwards. It was in the Italian Peninsula that many of the traditions of modern diplomacy began, such as the presentation of an ambassador's credentials to the head of state.
From Italy the practice was spread to other European regions. Milan was the first to send a representative to the court of France in 1455. However, Milan refused to host French representatives fearing espionage and that the French representatives would intervene in its internal affairs. As foreign powers such as France and Spain became increasingly involved in Italian politics the need to accept emissaries was recognized. Soon the major European powers were exchanging representatives. Spain was the first to send a permanent representative; it appointed an ambassador to the Court of England in 1487. By the late 16th century, permanent missions became customary. The Holy Roman Emperor, however, did not regularly send permanent legates, as they could not represent the interests of all the German princes (who were in theory all subordinate to the Emperor, but in practice each independent).
During that period the rules of modern diplomacy were further developed. The top rank of representatives was an ambassador. At that time an ambassador was a nobleman, the rank of the noble assigned varying with the prestige of the country he was delegated to. Strict standards developed for ambassadors, requiring they have large residences, host lavish parties, and play an important role in the court life of their host nation. In Rome, the most prized posting for a Catholic ambassador, the French and Spanish representatives would have a retinue of up to a hundred. Even in smaller posts, ambassadors were very expensive. Smaller states would send and receive envoys, who were a rung below ambassador. Somewhere between the two was the position of minister plenipotentiary.
Diplomacy was a complex affair, even more so than now. The ambassadors from each state were ranked by complex levels of precedence that were much disputed. States were normally ranked by the title of the sovereign; for Catholic nations the emissary from the Vatican was paramount, then those from the kingdoms, then those from duchies and principalities. Representatives from republics were ranked the lowest (which often angered the leaders of the numerous German, Scandinavian and Italian republics). Determining precedence between two kingdoms depended on a number of factors that often fluctuated, leading to near-constant squabbling.
French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord is considered one of the most skilled diplomats of all time.
Ambassadors, nobles with little foreign experience and no expectation of a career in diplomacy, needed to be supported by large embassy staff. These professionals would be sent on longer assignments and would be far more knowledgeable than the higher-ranking officials about the host country. Embassy staff would include a wide range of employees, including some dedicated to espionage. The need for skilled individuals to staff embassies was met by the graduates of universities, and this led to a great increase in the study of international law, modern languages, and history at universities throughout Europe.
At the same time, permanent foreign ministries began to be established in almost all European states to coordinate embassies and their staffs. These ministries were still far from their modern form, and many of them had extraneous internal responsibilities. Britain had two departments with frequently overlapping powers until 1782. They were also far smaller than they are currently. France, which boasted the largest foreign affairs department, had only some 70 full-time employees in the 1780s.
The elements of modern diplomacy slowly spread to Eastern Europe and Russia, arriving by the early 18th century. The entire edifice would be greatly disrupted by the French Revolution and the subsequent years of warfare. The revolution would see commoners take over the diplomacy of the French state, and of those conquered by revolutionary armies. Ranks of precedence were abolished. Napoleon also refused to acknowledge diplomatic immunity, imprisoning several British diplomats accused of scheming against France.
After the fall of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna of 1815 established an international system of diplomatic rank. Disputes on precedence among nations (and therefore the appropriate diplomatic ranks used) persisted for over a century until after World War II, when the rank of ambassador became the norm. In between that time, figures such as the German Chancellor Otto von Bismark were renowned for international diplomacy.
Byzantine diplomacy concerns the principles, methods, mechanisms, ideals, and techniques that the Byzantine Empire espoused and used in order to negotiate with other states and to promote the goals of its foreign policy. Dimitri Obolensky asserts that the preservation of civilization in Eastern Europe was due to the skill and resourcefulness of Byzantine diplomacy, which remains one of Byzantium's lasting contributions to the history of Europe and the Middle East.
After the fall of Rome, the key challenge to the Byzantine Empire was to maintain a set of relations between itself and its sundry neighbors, including the Georgians, Iberians, the Germanic peoples, the Bulgars, the Slavs, the Armenians, the Huns, the Avars, the Franks, the Lombards, and the Arabs, that embodied and so maintained its imperial status. All these neighbors lacked a key resource that Byzantium had taken over from Rome, namely a formalized legal structure. When they set about forging formal political institutions, they were dependent on the empire. Whereas classical writers are fond of making a sharp distinction between peace and war, for the Byzantines diplomacy was a form of war by other means. Anticipating Niccolò Machiavelli and Carl von Clausewitz, Byzantine historian John Kinnamos writes, "Since many and various matters lead toward one end, victory, it is a matter of indifference which one uses to reach it." With a regular army of 120,000-140,000 men after the losses of the seventh century, the empire's security depended on activist diplomacy.
Byzantium's "Bureau of Barbarians" was the first foreign intelligence agency, gathering information on the empire’s rivals from every imaginable source. While on the surface a protocol office—its main duty was to ensure foreign envoys were properly cared for and received sufficient state funds for their maintenance, and it kept all the official translators—it clearly had a security function as well. On Strategy, from the 6th century, offers advice about foreign embassies: "[Envoys] who are sent to us should be received honourably and generously, for everyone holds envoys in high esteem. Their attendants, however, should be kept under surveillance to keep them from obtaining any information by asking questions of our people."
Principles and methods
Byzantine diplomacy drew its neighbors into a network of international and interstate relations, controlled by the empire itself. This process revolved around treaty making. Byzantine historian Evangelos Chrysos postulates a three-layered process at work: 1) the new ruler was welcomed into the family of kings, 2) there was an assimilation of Byzantine social attitudes and values, 3) as a formalization of the second layer of the process, there were laws.
In order to drive this process, the Byzantines availed themselves of a number of mostly diplomatic practices. For example, embassies to Constantinople would often stay on for years. A member of other royal houses would routinely be requested to stay in Constantinople, not only as a potential hostage, but also as a useful pawn in case political conditions where he came from changed. Another key practice was to overwhelm visitors by sumptuous displays. Constantinople's riches served the state's diplomatic purposes as a means of propaganda, and as a way to impress foreigners. When Liutprand of Cremona was sent as an ambassador to the Byzantine capital, he was overwhelmed by the imperial residence, the luxurious meals, and acrobatic entertainment. Special care was taken to stimulate as many of the senses in as high degree as possible: brightly lit things to see, terrifying sounds, tasty food; even the diplomatic set-piece of having barbarians standing around the throne wearing their native gear.
The fact that Byzantium in its dealings with the barbarians generally preferred diplomacy to war is not surprising. For the East Romans, faced with the ever-present necessity of having to battle on two fronts — in the east against Persians, Arabs and Turks, in the north against the Slavs and the steppe nomads — knew from personal experience how expensive war is both in money and manpower. The Byzantines were skilled at using diplomacy as a weapon of war. If the Bulgars threatened, subsidies could be given to the Kiev Rus. A Rus threat could be countered by subsidies to the Patzinaks. If the Patzinaks proved troublesome, the Cumans or Uzès could be contacted. There was always someone to the enemy’s rear in a position to appreciate the emperor's largesse. Another innovative principle of Byzantine diplomacy was effective interference in the internal affairs of other states. In 1282, Michael VIII sponsored a revolt in Sicily against Charles of Anjou called the Sicilian Vespers. Emperor Heraclius once intercepted a message from Persian rival Khosrau II which ordered the execution of a general. Heraclius added 400 names to the message and diverted the messenger, provoking a rebellion by those on the list. The emperor maintained a stable of pretenders to almost every foreign throne. These could be given funds and released to wreak havoc if their homeland threatened attack.