. 3
( 13)


that feature in later literature. However, the German concept of nobility
included that of learning, alongside lineage and martial values.46 Many

43 Useful examples include P. C. Hartmann, Geld als Instrument europ¨ ischer Macht-
politik im Zeitalter des Merkantilismus 1715“1740 (Munich, 1978); H. Caspary, Staat,
Finanzen, Wirtschaft und Heerwesen im Hochstift Bamberg (1672“1693) (Bamberg, 1976);
A. Schrocker, ˜Heer, Finanzen und Verwaltung. Kurmainz im Pf¨ lzer Krieg 1689 bis
¨ a
1697™, Archiv f¨ r hessische Geschichte NF31 (1971), pp. 98“114.
44 J. Nowosadtko, ˜Soldatenpartnerschaften. Stehendes Heer und weibliche Bevolkerung ¨
im 18. Jahrhundert™, in K. Hagermann and R. Prove, eds., Landsknechte, Soldatenfrauen
und Nationalkrieger (Frankfurt/M., 1998), pp. 297“321.
45 A. Storkel, ˜Das Kurmainzer Milit¨ r beim Ausbruch der franzosischen Revolution™,
¨ a ¨
Mainzer Zeitschrift 84/85 (1989/90), pp. 143“66.
46 M. Kaiser, ˜“Ist er vom Adel? Ja. Id satis videtur”. Adlige Standesqualit¨ t und milit¨ rische
a a
Leistung als Karrierefaktoren in der Epoche des Dreißigj¨ hrigen Krieges™, in F. Bosbach,
K. Robbins and K. Urbach, eds., Geburt oder Leistung? (Munich, 2003), pp. 73“90.
56 Peter H. Wilson

central European nobles embraced education as a prerequisite for state
employment already in the sixteenth century, and this was encouraged
during the eighteenth century as part of the professionalisation of the of¬-
cer corps. Noble cadet corps had been founded from the end of the sev-
enteenth century in Brandenburg, Saxony, Wurttemberg and elsewhere.
These were transformed from the mid-eighteenth century from ¬nish-
ing schools for young noblemen into of¬cer training schools with formal
curricula and examinations. The changes were in part in response to
pressure from the of¬cers who wanted to enhance their own prospects of
promotion and foster a new professional ideal.47 These activities encour-
aged participation in the Enlightened public sphere of the later eigh-
teenth century. Rather than constituting the ˜civilising of the military™,48
it simply re¬‚ected the broader engagement of state of¬cials in public
debates. Of¬cers joined civil administrators in writing essays suggesting
improvements in welfare and other bene¬cial reforms. They participated
in Freemasonry and reading societies, and wrote plays and poetry. Ordi-
nary soldiers engaged in some of these activities as well, at least letter
writing and composing songs. Such involvement in literate culture did
not preclude a parallel interest in professional matters, as soldiers wrote
and discussed technical treatises, military history, and scienti¬c develop-
ments relating to ballistics and weaponry.49

The preceding indicates that the relationship between military culture
and state power in central Europe cannot be reduced to the standard
paradigm of militarism and absolutism. Absolutism was merely one form
of state power alongside other types of territorial rule and the overarch-
ing framework of the Reich. Military culture was not simply an extension
of aristocratic culture through the nobles™ predominance in the of¬cer
corps. Socially, the army constituted the ˜military estate™ alongside other
corporate groups that cannot be reduced to anachronistic class categories.
Instead, military culture needs to be interpreted as a form of institutional
culture. It was closely related to state power at territorial level since it
was here that the permanent military establishments were developed and
47 K. H. Frhr. v. Brand, Kadetten (Munich, 1981); R. Uhland, Geschichte der Hohen Karlss-
chule in Stuttgart (Stuttgart, 1953). See also the contributions to the two special issues
of the journal Aufkl¨ rung 11 (1996), no. 2, and 12 (1997), no. 1.
48 D. Hohrath and R. Henning, Die Bildung des Of¬ziers in der Aufk¨ rung (Stuttgart, 1990),
p. 61.
49 F. K. Tharau, Die geistige Kultur des preußischen Of¬ziers von 1640 bis 1806 (Mainz, 1968);
C. E. White, The Enlightened Soldier: Scharnhorst and the ˜Milit¨ rische Gesellschaft™ in Berlin
1801“1805 (New York, 1989).
Military culture in the Reich, c. 1680“1806 57

maintained from the 1680s. Territorial rulers played a signi¬cant part
in formulating the army™s mission, regulating its relationship to other
institutions and to society, shaping its internal structure and providing
the necessary resources. However, these activities also took place within
the wider imperial framework that exerted considerable in¬‚uence into the
1720s. By then most territories had maintained forces continuously for
over forty years and had built up a suf¬cient body of formal regulations
and informal practices that they no longer needed to borrow directly
from imperial legislation. Continued membership of the Reich encour-
aged a considerable degree of uniformity across the different territories
and slowed the growth of the individual armies as fully distinct institu-
tions. Nonetheless, institutional cohesion was growing more pronounced
by the later eighteenth century with the spread of modern professional
practices, such as recognised career paths, pension entitlements and safe-
guards against arbitrary dismissal. Paralleled by similar developments
within the civil administration, the emergence of this distinct military
culture was propelling politics away from dynasticism towards the imper-
sonal state that transcended the lives of its rulers.50 Though accompanied
by friction, this process was evolutionary rather than revolutionary, since,
as the involvement of of¬cers in the broader enlightened public sphere
suggests, change was promoted largely by those associated with the state
rather than its external critics.
50 B. Wunder, Privilegierung und Disziplinierung. Die Entstehung des Berufsbeamtentums in
Bayern und W¨ rttemberg, 1780“1825 (Munich, 1978).
4 Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe

Hamish Scott1
University of St Andrews

Writing about international relations and diplomacy during the ˜long
eighteenth century™ has been dominated by the language and approach
of great power rivalry. Ever since Leopold von Ranke™s seminal essay of
1833 on ˜The Great Powers™, these decades have been studied in terms
of the contested rise of new states.2 The emergence of the Pentarchy
(France, Austria, Britain, Prussia and Russia) and the rivalries which
accompanied it, have dominated eighteenth-century international his-
tory.3 Signi¬cantly, this period saw the appearance of the very term ˜great
powers™ as a way of de¬ning and identifying the states which dominated
Europe both individually and collectively.4 It witnessed a second, related
change in the political lexicon, as the word ˜diplomacy™ came to assume
its modern meaning. When in the later seventeenth century the Maurist
monk Jean Mabillon wrote his great study of historical method and the
science of documents, De re diplomatica (1681), the word ˜diplomatic™
retained its traditional meaning: pertaining to the study of documents
or diplomas.5 The peaceful conduct of international relations was at this
period known as ˜n´ gociations™. By the closing years of the eighteenth cen-
tury the word ˜diplomacy™ had assumed its more familiar sense, that of

1 I am grateful to Dr Heidrun Kugeler, who is the author of a D.Phil. at the University of
Oxford on ˜Le parfait ambassadeur: Theory and Practice of Diplomacy in the Century fol-
lowing the Peace of Westphalia™ (2006), for generous assistance; she and Dr Derek McKay
also commented very helpfully on a draft of this article. In the footnotes, eighteenth-
century practice over spelling and accents has been retained.
2 An English translation of Ranke™s essay can be found in The Theory and Practice of History:
Leopold von Ranke, eds. Georg G. Iggers and Konrad von Moltke (Indianopolis and New
York, 1973), pp. 65“101.
3 As they do for their most distinguished recent historian, Paul W. Schroeder, The Trans-
formation of European Politics, 1787“1848 (Oxford, 1994).
4 H. M. Scott, The Emergence of the Eastern Powers, 1756“1775 (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 7“10
for the semantic shift; cf. Scott, The Birth of a Great Power System, 1740“1815 (London,
2006), for an extended study of the process.
5 David Knowles, Great Historical Enterprises and Problems in Monastic History (London,
1963), pp. 33“62, remains a good introduction.

Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 59

the peaceful and continuous management of relations between states.6
The precise point at which the change occurred remains elusive: but
by the 1790s and perhaps even the 1780s, it had taken place.7 When, in
1802, a collection of the treaties concluded by the new French Republic
during its ¬rst decade of existence was published, the word ˜diplomatic™
was assumed to be in common usage.8
The semantic shift came at the end of a period of structural changes
in the management of relations between Europe™s states. It underlines
the extent to which the established Rankean paradigm for international
relations needs to be accompanied “ though not replaced “ by a second,
complementary approach rooted in political culture: exactly the approach
championed by Tim Blanning.9 The long eighteenth century saw the
establishment across large parts of Europe of a distinctive diplomatic cul-
ture, which was novel, became cohesive and homogeneous as it spread,
and imparted considerable unity to the conduct of international relations.
The culture itself became a distinct ˜code™ or ˜language™, which helped
to unify the world of eighteenth-century diplomacy.10 This langue was
both a linguistic and a cultural phenomenon.11 It constituted a speci¬c
form of discourse employed by diplomats alone, being, in the words of
J. G. A. Pocock, one of the ˜languages employed by speci¬c communities

6 For explicit testimony to this, see G. de R. de Flassan, Histoire g´n´rale et raisonn´e de la
ee e
diplomatie fran¸aise (2nd edn, 7 vols., Paris, 1811), I.1. Flassan™s de¬nition of diplomacy
(ibid., I.12“13) is strikingly modern.
7 In English-language scholarship it is usually asserted that the writings of Edmund Burke
familiarised the term to anglophone readers, with references to ˜civil, diplomatique [sic]
and military affairs™ in 1787 (Annual Register) and to the French regime™s ˜double diplo-
macy™ in 1796 (Letters on a Regicide Peace): see p. vii, n. 2 of Abraham van Wicquefort:
The Embassador [sic] and his Functions ed. Maurice Keens-Soper (Leicester, 1997) and
the Oxford English Dictionary sub ˜diplomacy™. Burke™s sources, as in so many of his writ-
ings, appear to be French: see Encyclop´die m´thodique: economie politique et diplomatique
e e ´
(4 vols., Paris and Li` ge, 1784“8), IV.814, 837; Lucien B´ ly, ˜L™invention de la diplo-
e e
matie™, in B´ ly, ed., L™invention de la diplomatie: moyen age, temps modernes (Paris, 1998),
e ˆ
p. 11, n. 1. But earlier instances of similar usage can certainly be given: a diplomat was
in origin simply someone who held a diploma. To give only one example, the editor of
Dumont spoke of ˜C´ remoniel diplomatique™ as early as the 1730s: see below, p. 79. The
whole issue clearly needs much fuller investigation. In this essay, the word ˜diplomacy™
is used throughout in its modern sense.
8 Code diplomatique, ed. Portiez [de l™Oise], Tribun (4 vols., Paris, 1802), e.g. p. v. Cf.
L. P. comte de S´ gur, Politique de tous les cabinets de l™Europe pendant les r` gnes de Louis
e e
XV et de Louis XVI (3 vols., Paris, 1802), I.3, for another use of ˜la Diplomatie™.
9 T. C. W. Blanning, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe
1660“1789 (Oxford, 2002).
10 Lucien B´ ly, Espions et ambassadeurs au temps de Louis XIV (Paris, 1990), p. 748.
11 For an interesting evocation of it, see the ˜Avis aux jeunes diplomates™ drawn up by a lead-
ing Russian of¬cial under Alexander I (1801“25), A. S. Sturdza, in Oeuvres posthumes,
religieuses, historiques, philosophiques et litt´raires d™Alexandre de Stourdza (5 vols., Paris,
1858“61), III.431“59, passim.
60 Hamish Scott

in their professional discourse, as articulating their activities and the insti-
tutional practices in which they were engaged™.12 But it was also a code
rooted in ceremonial forms and gestures, which de¬ned the membership
of a distinctive community made up of diplomats, statesmen and even
The principal changes can be indicated at the outset. Diplomats from
every country came to behave in similar and even identical ways; to speak
the same language “ French “ and even to correspond with their superiors
in it, rather than their own native tongues; to be drawn overwhelmingly
from the same social group, the nobility and especially its higher echelons;
to spend a larger proportion of their time attending the royal court of the
country to which they had been sent; and to identify with fellow-diplomats
with whom they shared the same lifestyle, mores and set of socio-cultural
values. In this way they became a distinct ˜independent society™, identi¬ed
as such by the French foreign of¬ce functionary Antoine Pecquet in a
work ¬rst published in 1737.13

The most satisfactory starting point for any exploration of political
culture is Lynn Hunt™s celebrated de¬nition: ˜the values, expectations,
and implicit rules that expressed and shaped collective intentions and
actions™.14 It is concerned, in other words, with identifying and analysing
norms of conduct and behaviour, exploring the infrastructure of assump-
tions and shared beliefs which shaped actions and in this way identify-
ing structural changes, rather than focusing on the surface events, the
actions themselves, as earlier generations of historians have usually done.
Such an approach is particularly suited to the study of international
relations. Sources exist, above all abundant surviving correspondence
and numerous treatises produced at the time, which reveal the shared
assumptions and convictions of individual agents within this international
society and the common mentalities which resulted, and even explain
how these norms became established. In recent years historians, particu-
larly in France and Germany, have begun to apply the methodology and

12 See his ˜The Concept of a Language and the m´tier d™historien: Some Considerations
on Practice™, in Anthony Pagden, ed., The Languages of Political Theory in Early-Modern
Europe (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 19“38, at p. 23.
13 De l™art de n´gocier avec les souverains (The Hague, 1738 edn), p. 104.
14 Quoted by Blanning, Culture of Power, p. 4, from Hunt™s Politics, Culture and Class in
the French Revolution (London, 1986), p. 10. For a more elaborate and linguistically
rooted, though broadly comparable de¬nition, see Keith Michael Baker, ˜Introduction™
to Baker, ed., The Political Culture of the Old Regime (The French Revolution and the Creation
of Modern Political Culture, vol. I, Oxford, 1987), p. xii.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 61

techniques of social and cultural history and of anthropology, such as a
concern with symbols and semiotics, to diplomatic history, with impor-
tant results.15 This present essay differs from such approaches, both in
its methodology and in its focus upon the diplomatic corps, though it is
certainly analogous to them.
Two distinct considerations facilitate such an enquiry. The ¬rst is the
enclosed nature, by this period, of the diplomatic world and the inter-
national system of which it was part. Its reciprocal, precedent-conscious
and self-perpetuating nature not merely facilitated but actually demanded
the adoption of the norms of conduct and the unspoken assumptions,
which lie at the heart of any approach rooted in political culture. External
in¬‚uences, what can loosely if not altogether accurately be styled ˜public
opinion™ and even the nascent ˜public sphere™, exerted greater in¬‚uence,
particularly after the mid-eighteenth century. This was especially so in
western Europe where newspapers and journals were being published on
an increasing scale and where the extent of political debate and even par-
ticipation was growing. Yet before the French Revolution, and to some
degree until the generation before the First World War, the extent of such
external in¬‚uence upon policymakers and diplomats was always slight.
The world of diplomacy was sealed off from the rest of society. Through-
out the old regime, ambassadors and envoys were selected from the social
and political elite, and their actions were directed by other members of
that elite. They interacted predominantly with their own caste, albeit of
another country in most cases.
Their world was also enclosed geographically and culturally. Dur-
ing the later seventeenth and earlier eighteenth centuries, French-style
diplomacy spread to other countries, which adopted its practices and
structures. Their established diplomatic traditions and practices were
overlaid and sometimes even replaced by a francophone mode of con-
ducting relations. Both resident diplomacy and the wider states-system
were interactive in nature, ensuring that this distinctive culture spread

15 See the historiographical surveys by Ursula Lehmkuhl, ˜Diplomatiegeschichte als inter-
nationale Kulturgeschichte: theoretische Ans¨ tze und empirische Forschung zwischen
Historischer Kulturwissenschaft und soziologischen Institutionalismus™, Geschichte und
Gesellschaft 27 (2001), pp. 394“423, and Karina Urbach, ˜Diplomatic History since
the Cultural Turn™, Historical Journal 46 (2003), pp. 991“7, while for the early modern
period there is now Heidrun Kugeler, Christian Sepp and Georg Wolf, eds., Internationale
Beziehungen in der Fr¨ hen Neuzeit: Ans¨ tze und Perspektiven (Munich, 2006), especially
u a
the introduction by H. Kugeler, pp. 9“35. Three detailed studies in this genre are Claire
Gantet, La paix de Westphalie (1648): une histoire sociale XVIIe“XVIIIe si`cles (Paris,
2001); Christian Windler, La diplomatie comme exp´rience de l™autre: consuls fran¸ais au
e c
Maghreb (1700“1840) (Geneva, 2002) and, for a later period, Johannes Paulmann, Pomp
und Politik: Monarchengegnungen zwischen Ancien R´gime und Erstem Weltkrieg (Paderborn,
62 Hamish Scott

rapidly, becoming prescriptive and covering much of southern and west-
ern Europe, with an extension into central Europe, by the 1720s. As
countries rose in political importance “ for example, the Savoyard state16
or Brandenburg-Prussia “ or emerged from obscurity “ Russia “ and
played a larger international role, they embraced this culture, with its
foundations in Louis XIV™s France, to a greater or lesser extent.17
A corollary is that the enclosed nature of the world of diplomacy actu-
ally facilitates the study of how this culture became established and was
transmitted. Though it has not always been acknowledged or, if acknowl-
edged, faced directly, one fundamental problem is how prevailing norms
were created. Where diplomatic culture is concerned, however, the pro-
cess can be identi¬ed. It was spread in three overlapping ways. The ¬rst
was by immersion in the court societies in which many noble diplomats
grew up and lived, as diplomacy itself assumed many of the character-
istics of the aristocratic-courtly and cosmopolitan culture of the period.
Secondly, ambassadors and envoys studied it before setting off on their
¬rst mission and, more importantly, were immersed in it in the course
of their duties, as they encountered members of the host government
and other diplomats. Finally, diplomatic culture was set down, usually by
diplomats or of¬cials who brought an insider™s understanding to their
subject, in a series of treatises published at intervals during the long
eighteenth century, and these were widely studied by ambassadors and
Though such writings had appeared intermittently since the ¬fteenth
century, the publication of Abraham van Wicquefort™s in¬‚uential and
long-lived L™ambassadeur et ses fonctions in 1681 established a new
standard and an expanded subject-matter.19 It was reprinted frequently

16 The duchy of Savoy-Piedmont presents an obvious problem of nomenclature, since
during this period it secured the royal title which it had long craved through its acquisition
of ¬rst Sicily (1714“20) and then Sardinia (1720 onwards). It is referred to in this essay
as ˜the Savoyard state™.
17 The only important exception was the Ottoman Empire, which did not fully do so until
the second half of the nineteenth century.
18 There is a useful introduction, extending across the entire early modern period, by
Maurizio Bazzoli, ˜Ragion di stato e interesse degli stati: la trattatistica sull™ambasciatore
dal XV al XVIII secolo™, Nuova rivista storica 86 (2002), pp. 283“328. Two interest-
ing examples, both written by diplomats, are the ˜Embajada espa˜ ola: An Anonymous
Contemporary Spanish Guide to Diplomatic Procedure in the Last Quarter of the
Seventeenth Century™, ed. and trans. H. J. Chaytor, in Camden Miscellany XIV (London,
1926), and Louis Rousseau de Chamoy, L™id´e du parfait ambassadeur, ed. L. Delavaud
(Paris, 1912), completed in 1697.
19 2 vols., The Hague, 1681. Four years earlier he had published M´moires touchant les
ambassadeurs et les ministres publics (The Hague, 1677), which was reworked to produce
the more famous treatise.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 63

during the next half-century and was to prove remarkably in¬‚uential.20 Its
enduring importance re¬‚ected the signi¬cant continuities in diplomacy.
These were even more apparent in the contribution of international law
to eighteenth-century diplomatic theory and culture. This was evident
in the continuing attention paid to Hugo Grotius, De jure belli ac pacis
(1625) and Samuel von Pufendorf, De jure naturae et gentium (1672),
both of which long remained central to the diplomatic canon.21 Yet it is
the innovatory nature of the eighteenth-century treatises which is more
This is especially true of two works by functionaries in the French for-
eign of¬ce: Fran¸ ois de Calli` res™s celebrated De la mani`re de n´gocier avec
c e e e
les souverains of 1716 and the treatise published in 1737 by Antoine Pec-
quet ¬ls, Discours sur l™art de n´gocier, though this may have incorporated
sections from a manuscript composed by his father, Antoine Pecquet, who
had also been a premier commis (the equivalent of an Under-Secretary)
and around 1720 seems to have drafted a manual which contained a
section entitled ˜De l™art de n´ gocier™.22 The writings of Calli` res and
e e
Pecquet differed from their most famous predecessor. Whereas Wicque-
fort “ as his title made clear “ had focused upon the role and especially
the legal privileges of an ambassador, the two Frenchmen examined the
role of a diplomat and particularly the negotiations he would be called
upon to transact. This re¬‚ected wider changes in the decades around
1700. Though there were many imitators and numerous paraphrases of
these treatises, the two most in¬‚uential were the Prussian cameralist Jacob
Friedrich Freiherr von Bielfeld™s Institutions politiques (1760), the second
volume of which contains an informative though highly derivative study of
mid-century diplomacy, and the German jurist and international lawyer
Karl von Martens™s Manuel diplomatique, ¬rst published in 1822 and fre-
quently revised in the course of the nineteenth century.23

20 E.g. the comments of J. F. von Bielfeld, Institutions politiques (2 vols., The Hague, 1760),
II.143. A copy was to be found in every single eighteenth-century French ambassador™s
library for which an inventory has survived: Claire B´ chu-B´ nazet, ˜La formation d™un
e e
ambassadeur au XVIIIe si` cle: Vergennes™, Revue d™histoire diplomatique 101 (1987),
pp. 215“25, at p. 219.
21 The importance of what he styled ˜Droit public™ was emphasised by J. de La Sarraz
du Franquesnay, Le ministre public dans les cours etrang`res: ses fonctions et ses prerogatives
´ e
(Amsterdam, 1731), ˜Preface™ and passim. See also below, p. 64.
22 Further research is needed to clarify the question of authorship. For basic biographical
information on the father and son, see Jean-Pierre Samoyault, Les bureaux du secr´tariate
d™´tat des affaires etrang`res sous Louis XV (Paris, 1971), pp. 301“2, and Camille Piccioni,
e ´ e
Les premiers commis des affaires etrang`res au XVIIe et XVIIIe si`cles (Paris, 1928),
´ e e
pp. 179“83 and 206“12.
23 Bielfeld was ¬rst published in two volumes at The Hague in 1760; it was republished
in three volumes (Leiden, 1767“72) incorporating the ˜Political Gazetteer™ anticipated
64 Hamish Scott

The in¬‚uence of these manuals was immense and proved enduring.24
When, in 1811, the director of France™s foreign of¬ce archives, the
comte Alexandre d™Hauterive, produced a guide for would-be ambas-
sadors admitted to study there as the preparation for a diplomatic career,
he prescribed Wicquefort (for the information it contained), Calli` res e
and Pecquet as the essential texts for the novice. At around the same
time, Russia™s apprentice diplomats were expected to read Calli` res and,
when it appeared, Martens™s Manuel diplomatique. A century earlier
Russia™s full entry into European diplomacy under Peter the Great had
been accompanied by efforts to acquire and even to study European
manuals: not merely Grotius and Pufendorf, but also Wicquefort and
Calli` res. The Petrine diplomat P. V. Postnikov undertook in 1712 to
translate L™ambassadeur et ses fonctions into Russian and seems to have
completed the task, though it remained in manuscript, while the key
adviser P. P. Sha¬rov™s library contained a copy of De la mani`re de n´gocier
e e
avec les souverains. The emperor himself sponsored a Russian translation
of Calli` res, though it had not been completed by the time of Peter™s
death in 1725. The task was resumed only under Catherine II (1762“96)
when Russia again played an enlarged international role, and a Russian
version was published in 1772, based upon the revised French edition of

in the ¬rst edition. Wicquefort, Calli` res and Pecquet were the main and acknowledged
sources for his discussion of ˜n´ gociation™: Institutions politiques, II.143. Martens (1790“
1863) was the nephew of the Gottingen professor and compiler of a well-known series
of handbooks of international law and diplomacy, Georg Friedrich von Martens (1756“
1821). His treatise was ¬rst published in Paris in 1822 with a full title which makes clear
its exemplary nature: Manuel diplomatique, ou pr´cis des droits et des fonctions des agens
diplomatiques; suivi d™un recueil d™actes et d™of¬ces pour servir de guide aux personnes qui se
destinent a la carri`re politique. Some two-thirds of the ¬rst edition consisted of specimens
` e
of the kind of written communications a diplomat would have to send. It was frequently
republished during the nineteenth century under the title: Guide diplomatique.
24 See the explicit testimony of Martens, Manuel diplomatique, p. vi. In the libraries of almost
all eighteenth-century French diplomats which can be reconstituted, ¬ve key texts can
always be found: Wicquefort, Calli` res, Grotius, De jure belli, Pufendorf, De jure naturae
and Emer de Vattel, Le droit de gens (1758): Claire B´ chu, ˜Les ambassadeurs fran¸ ais
e c
au XVIIIe si` cle™, in B´ ly, ed., L™invention de la diplomatie, pp. 338“40.
e e
25 ˜L™´ ducation d™un diplomate™ (No editor identi¬ed), Revue d™histoire diplomatique 15
(1901), pp. 161“224, pp. 215, 217. This fascinating manuscript was written by
d™Hauterive (1754“1830), who had begun his diplomatic career during the old regime
and was a foreign of¬ce commis, subsequently becoming director of the archives 1807“30.
He also was responsible for the Ecole Diplomatique, which provided a severely practical
training largely through the study of previous diplomatic correspondence. There is an
informative article by Alain Meininger, ˜D™Hauterive et la formation des diplomates™,
ibid. (1975), pp. 25“69.
26 Patricia K. Grimsted, The Foreign Ministers of Alexander I: Political Attitudes and the Con-
duct of Russian Diplomacy 1801“1825 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1969), p. 16.
27 V. E. Grabar, The History of International Law in Russia 1647“1917: A Bio-Bibliographical
Study, trans. W. E. Butler (Oxford, 1990), pp. 40, 47, 51, 133“5 and passim.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 65

The Russian translation underlined the extraordinary and continuing
in¬‚uence of Calli` res™s treatise. First published in 1716, it was translated
into English that same year, into German the next year and into Italian
by 1726.28 Reprinted or revised French editions appeared in 1750 (Lon-
don), 1757 (Ryswick) and 1766 (Brussels), while Pecquet was reprinted
in 1764 and 1769.29 Wicquefort had earlier been translated into English
in 1716.30 Though the establishment of French as the language par excel-
lence of diplomacy did something to reduce the need for translations, the
Manuel diplomatique would be translated into Russian as late as 1828.31
These and similar treatises were crucial in establishing a relatively uni-
form diplomatic culture; they also enable its distinguishing characteristics
to be identi¬ed.

The ¬rst was the establishment of French as the principal language of
diplomacy.32 It was part of a wider linguistic and cultural change: the
¬nal if gradual eclipse of Latin during the long eighteenth century and
its replacement by French as the dominant language of educated elites
across Europe.33 French became the language of the court, the salon
and the academy during and immediately after Louis XIV™s reign (1661“
1715), when France™s cultural and political prestige reached new heights,
and its spread was advanced by its central place in the intellectual world
of the eighteenth century. It was spoken in particular by the continent™s
nobles as their second language and sometimes their ¬rst. By 1783 the
Berlin Academy “ with pardonable exaggeration “ could set as the subject
for one of its periodic essay competitions: ˜What has made the French
language universal?™34

28 The English edition was published in London in 1716, the German in Leipzig in 1717
and the Italian at Parma in 1726: Fran¸ ois de Calli` res, De la mani`re de n´gocier avec les
c e e e
souverains, ed. Alain P. Lempereur (Geneva, 2002), pp. 211“12.
29 Ibid., p. 211; Antoine Pecquet, Discourse on the Art of Negotiation, trans. Aleksandra
Gruzinska and Murray D. Sirkis (New York, 2004), p. xxi.
30 The Embassador and his Functions, now republished with an introduction by Maurice
Keens-Soper (Leicester, 1997).
31 Grabar, The History of International Law in Russia, p. 291.
32 See most recently Marc Fumaroli, Quand l™Europe parlait fran¸ais (Paris, 2001), esp.
pp. 9“22. There is still much of interest in Ferdinand Brunot, Histoire de la langue fran¸aise
(13 vols., Paris, 1966“73 edn), vols. V“VIII passim. On the much narrower question of
French in diplomacy, see Alexander Ostrower, Language, Law and Diplomacy: A Study
of Linguistic Diversity in Of¬cial International Relations and International Law (2 vols.,
Philadelphia, 1965), pp. 267“319.
33 Fran¸ oise Waquet, Latin or the Empire of a Sign: From the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century
(1998; Engl. trans., London, 2001), pp. 97“9.
34 Albert Sorel, Europe and the French Revolution: The Political Traditions of the Old R´gime
(1885; Engl. trans., London, 1969), p. 181.
66 Hamish Scott

Its expansion added a new element to the established linguistic cock-
tail. Exactly at mid-century the indefatigable Friedrich Carl Moser drew
up his great compilation on the languages of public and courtly Europe.35
Distinguishing between ˜state™ and ˜court™, he made clear that in every
capital each category would normally have two tongues, which were
recognised and employed, and that increasingly French was likely to be
one of these. Though it might be dominant at court and in the chan-
cellery, bilingualism and sometimes even linguistic pluralism remained a
feature of Europe™s old order. The obvious change was that it had replaced
Latin as the main international language.36 Its expansion was crucial for
Europe™s new diplomatic culture, both facilitating and accelerating its
spread. More importantly the frontiers of francophone Europe in effect
became the limits of the new diplomatic culture.
When Jean Dumont began to publish his famous collection of treaties
in 1726, he adopted French as its language, since as he said ˜at present it
is the most widely used across Europe™.37 A decade later Pecquet noted
rather complacently that ˜our language has become in some manner that
of all Europe™, though he went on to urge that other languages should be
learned as well, since they broke down barriers and fostered good relations
by pleasing a diplomat™s hosts.38 There was also a signi¬cant gain of
con¬dentiality when an ambassador or envoy did not have to make use of
an interpreter. In some states the continuing employment of foreigners
also encouraged the adoption of French, though by mid-century more
and more diplomats were natives of the country they served. By the early
1780s, when Wenck was composing the preface to the second edition
of his collection of Latin treaties, he sombrely testi¬ed to the eclipse of
that language, writing that in all instances French versions were provided
since it was the ˜preponderant™ language for negotiations.39

35 Abhandlung von den Europ¨ ischen Hof- und Staatssprachen, nach deren Gebrauch im
Reden und Schreiben (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1750), esp. pp. 1“40; see now Guido Braun,
˜Fr´ d´ ric-Charles Moser et les langues de la diplomatie europ´ enne (1648“1750)™, Revue
ee e
d™histoire diplomatique (1999, part 3), pp. 261“78, for a useful introduction.
36 As late as 1697 Chamoy had deemed a knowledge of Latin ˜absolutely necessary since
it was spoken almost everywhere™: L™id´e du parfait ambassadeur, pp. 23“4.
37 Quoted by Brunot, Histoire de la langue fran¸aise, v. 430. The ¬rst edition of Jean
Dumont™s celebrated treaty collection, Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens, was
published in 8 vols.: Amsterdam-The Hague, 1726“31.
38 De l™art de n´gocier avec les souverains, pp. xxvii“xxviii. This was in itself novel. Louis
XIV™s ambassadors might have known some Latin, but usually learned the language
of their post when they arrived, if at all: William J. Roosen, ˜The True Ambassador:
Occupational and Personal Characteristics of French Ambassadors under Louis XIV™,
European Studies Review 3 (1973), pp. 121“39, esp. pp. 129“30.
39 Brunot, Histoire de la langue fran¸aise, VIII.834.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 67

There were of course signi¬cant exceptions, regions where the penetra-
tion of French was incomplete and sometimes very limited indeed. In the
area of south-eastern and Mediterranean Europe which was still under
Ottoman in¬‚uence, if no longer Ottoman sway, a form of pidgin Italian
was in use until the 1830s. Within the Holy Roman Empire Latin long
remained important and German, rather than French, was the dominant
political language and would remain so after 1815. All the states of the
Reich, including Brandenburg-Prussia, normally employed German in
imperial affairs. More problematical is the extent of incorporation into
this French-speaking world of those peripheral geographical areas: Rus-
sia in the east, the British Isles in the west, Spain, Naples and Sicily in
the south. Detailed studies are lacking, and satisfactory generalisations
dif¬cult, but in general it seems to have been less complete than in the
rest of Europe.
Spain and its Italian dependencies constitute a particularly dif¬cult
case. Towards the close of the seventeenth century Spanish was appar-
ently the only language spoken in political society in Madrid.40 The
accession of France™s Bourbon dynasty at the beginning of the eigh-
teenth century undoubtedly helped French to make inroads, and one
British ambassador claimed that it was employed in some diplomatic and
royal correspondence.41 It also seems to have been spoken, if not exclu-
sively, at court, though particularly after the accession of Charles III in
1759 Italian was also important. But the contrary example of Spain, now
primarily concerned to delay decline, may suggest that it was primar-
ily rising, ambitious states “ Austria, Britain, Savoy-Piedmont, Prussia,
eventually Russia “ which were becoming incorporated into this franco-
phone diplomatic world. The wider trend, however, is not in doubt.42 In
the mid-1790s Baron Auckland, a leading British diplomat and former
Under-Secretary of State, declared that ˜Above all it is essential [for a
would-be diplomat] to have studied and practised the French language,
so as to be able to converse in it without embarrassment,™ though he
himself had not reinforced precept with example.43 By the middle of the
eighteenth century a diplomat would have to speak French on formal and
informal occasions in most countries, whether at court or elsewhere; all
negotiations and, from shortly after the Peace of Utrecht, the vast major-
ity of treaties were also in that language, as were of¬cial manifestos and
diplomatic notes.

40 ˜Embajada espa˜ ola™, p. 7.
41 D. B. Horn, The British Diplomatic Service, 1689“1789 (Oxford, 1961), pp. 136“7.
42 Bielfeld, Institutions politiques, II.246.
43 Quoted by Horn, The British Diplomatic Service, p. 129; cf. ibid., p. 138, for Auckland™s
own linguistic shortcomings.
68 Hamish Scott

The francophone nature of old regime diplomacy strengthened as time
passed. Since a great deal of an ambassador™s or envoy™s duties would be
transacted in that language, it became quite common to require him to
report in French and to send his formal orders in that language too.44
This would sharpen his linguistic skills and might increase his superi-
ors™ control over him; it would also further the training which govern-
ments sought to achieve through correspondence with their diplomats
abroad. By the mid-eighteenth century French had been adopted by sev-
eral national foreign services, in preference to their native tongues. It
became the language of Prussian diplomacy from Frederick the Great™s
accession in early summer 1740, while by mid-century Denmark™s diplo-
matic correspondence was largely in French.45 The adoption of French
could be incomplete: Dutch statesmen employed it in their private cor-
respondence and in negotiations, though not when writing of¬cially to
the Republic™s ambassadors.46 There were also exceptions, above all the
case of the Austrian Habsburgs who long favoured German, not least
because of the amount of material concerning the Reich which their min-
isters and diplomats had to transact. At the court in Vienna Italian was
widely spoken during the later seventeenth and earlier eighteenth cen-
turies and Spanish enjoyed a vogue under Charles VI (1711“40). From
mid-century, however, French became more important. The Habsburg
foreign minister for four decades after 1753, Wenzel Anton von Kau-
nitz, used it to conduct private correspondence, and occasionally drew
up formal instructions in that language.47 By the 1820s, according to
Martens, at Vienna only the affairs of the German Confederation were
not transacted in French.48
The most interesting case in many ways is the Savoyard state, which
was a linguistic hybrid.49 Sundered by the Alps, it united French-speaking
Savoy with Italian-speaking Piedmont, which was politically dominant,
contained approximately three times as many people around 1700, and
provided the majority of diplomats. By the eighteenth century Italian
was established at court, though French was also spoken on occasions,

44 Brunot, Histoire de la langue fran¸aise, VIII.819“23.
45 With the important exception of the Reich, where German was still employed; the
eighteenth-century Danish monarchy™s complex claim to the Duchy of Holstein (which
was part of the Reich) ensured that it took an active interest in imperial affairs.
46 Brunot, Histoire de la langue fran¸aise, VIII.190.
47 E.g. those for Gottfried Freiherr van Swieten, sent as envoy to Berlin in late 1770: Sorel,
Europe and the French Revolution, p. 182. This was explicitly declared to be because only
French could be spoken in the Prussian capital.
48 Manuel diplomatique, p. 162.
49 Geoffrey Symcox, ˜The Savoyard State: A Negative Case-Study in the Politics of Linguis-
tic Uni¬cation™, in The Fairest Flower: The Emergence of Linguistic National Consciousness
in Renaissance Europe (Florence, 1985), pp. 185“91, provides a helpful sketch.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 69

conforming to Moser™s pattern of bilingualism.50 From shortly after
the Peace of Utrecht, diplomatic instructions and correspondence were
almost entirely in French, as they had been for some Savoyard representa-
tives since the later seventeenth century. There were exceptions: the ruler,
Victor Amadeus II, corresponded with the marchese di Trivi` in Italian
during the Utrecht congress, while the instructions given to the Sicilian
Giuseppe Osorio when he was sent to London in 1730 were also in that
language. But even Osorio reported in French, conforming to the estab-
lished trend in the Savoyard state and more widely in Europe. Revealingly,
however, internal correspondence between government departments in
Turin about matters such as the appointment and payment of diplomats
continued to be written in Italian.
Full admission to this francophone diplomatic world required knowl-
edge of its dominant tongue. The clearest example of the problems this
might cause is that of eighteenth-century Russia, whose political emer-
gence was slowed and at times impeded by a lack of suf¬cient native
diplomats able to speak French and by the resulting problems encoun-
tered in adjusting to western-style diplomacy, as well as by a tenacious
adherence to established customs and practices.51 This led to a signi¬cant
number of non-natives being employed as diplomats, and also to succes-
sive attempts, ¬rst under Peter the Great and then from Elizabeth™s reign
onwards, to send young Russian noblemen abroad to learn foreign lan-
guages and especially French “ imitating the Grand Tour established else-
where “ and to acquire the rudiments of western-style diplomacy. They
were attached to Russian embassies or increasingly sent to the famous
School for Diplomats at Strasbourg founded by Jean Daniel Schoep¬‚in:
152 Russians can be identi¬ed as having studied there during the eigh-
teenth century. With the single exception of the emperor himself, every
single member of Russia™s delegation to the Congress of Vienna was a
former student of the school.52 The wider evolution by which eighteenth-
century Russia became culturally part of Europe also helped to speed up

50 Christopher Storrs, ˜Savoyard Diplomacy in the Eighteenth Century, 1684“1798™, in
Daniela Frigo, ed., Politics and Diplomacy in Early Modern Italy: The Structure of Diplomatic
Practice, 1450“1800 (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 210“53, at pp. 230 and 234. See more
generally Frigo™s own book: Principe, ambasciatore e ˜jus gentium™: l™amministrazione della
politica estera nel Piemonte del settecento (Rome, 1991).
51 David J. Taylor, ˜Russian Foreign Policy, 1725“1739: The Politics of Stability and Oppor-
tunity™ (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of East Anglia, 1983), pp. 10“20 passim;
cf. the views of an unnamed Danish diplomat in 1710, quoted in V. P. Potemkin, ed.,
Histoire de la diplomatie (French trans., 3 vols., Paris, 1946“7), I.264.
52 Jurgen Voss, ˜L™´ cole diplomatique de Strasbourg et son role dans l™Europe des
¨ e ˆ
Lumi` res™, in B´ ly, ed., L™invention de la diplomatie, pp. 363“72, at p. 371, together with
e e
his ˜Les etudiants de l™Empire russe a l™universit´ de Strasbourg au XVIIIe si` cle™, in
´ ` e e
Conrad Grau, ed., Deutsch-russische Beziehungen im 18. Jahrhundert: Kultur, Wissenschaft
und Diplomatie (Wiesbaden, 1997), pp. 351“74.
70 Hamish Scott

this process, as a growing number of noblemen were educated by for-
eign tutors. At the end of the 1730s Russia was represented in London
by a native diplomat who spoke ¬‚uent French and even some English,53
while by Catherine II™s reign the Russian Empire was emerging as a full
member of Europe™s diplomatic society.54 By that point some routine
correspondence was in French, while German was favoured by the sig-
ni¬cant number of diplomats who were natives of the Baltic Provinces,
but Russian long remained predominant.55

The French language did more than any other single factor to unify the
diplomatic world of old regime Europe and to transmit its distinctive cul-
ture. To a signi¬cant extent its spread was a by-product of a second and
better-known change: the establishment of resident diplomacy.56 Within
half a century “ broadly the 1670s to the 1720s “ most European states
with the single exception of the Ottoman Empire began to maintain per-
manent and continuous diplomatic relations with each other, at the level
of ambassador or envoy.57 It led to the emergence of diplomatic corps
in most capitals, where they constituted exactly the kind of ˜independent
society™ identi¬ed by Pecquet.58 Involvement in organising coalitions to
oppose Louis XIV™s France encouraged other countries to adopt French-
style diplomacy, which most had experienced at ¬rst hand, either as allies

53 Prince Ivan A. Shcherbatov, minister 1739“42 and again 1743“6: Igor Vinogradoff,
˜Russian Missions to London, 1711“1789™, Oxford Slavonic Papers NS 15 (1982),
pp. 46“79, pp. 49 and 54, n. 43.
54 See H. M. Scott, ˜Katharinas Rußland und das europ¨ ische Staatensystem™, in Claus
Scharf, ed., Katharina II., Rußland und Europa: Beitr¨ ge zur internationalen Forschung
(Mainz, 2001), pp. 3“57, for this process. The extent to which early nineteenth-century
Russia had become diplomatically part of Europe is evident from the ˜M´ moire™ sub-
mitted in November 1802 by S. R. Vorontsov to his brother A. R., the foreign minister,
on the changes needed in the training of Russian diplomats: Arkhiv Kniaza Vorontsova,
ed. P. I. Bartenev (40 vols., St Petersburg, 1870“95), XV.433“40; cf. X.177“8 for the
context of this scheme.
55 This is apparent from the substantial extracts from Russian diplomatic correspondence
published in Sbornik imperatorskogo russkogo istorischeskogo obshchestva (148 vols., St
Petersburg, 1867“1916).
56 For up-to-date general accounts, see M. S. Anderson, The Rise of Modern Diplomacy
1450“1919 (London, 1993), ch. 2, and Linda S. and Marsha L. Frey, The History of
Diplomatic Immunity (Columbus, OH, 1999), ch. 6, together with two informative col-
lected volumes edited by Lucien B´ ly: L™invention de la diplomatie and L™Europe des trait´s
e e
de Westphalie: esprit de la diplomatie et diplomatie de l™esprit (Paris, 2000).
57 Bielfeld, Institutions politiques, II.144, 147, for a contemporary view of its signi¬cance.
58 See above, p. 60.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 71

or victims.59 In this way they came to admire and soon to emulate the
supple, polished, more creative diplomacy which they encountered.
Louis XIV™s diplomatic service “ exactly like his court at Versailles and
domestic regime, headed by the intendants “ came to enjoy enormous
prestige, while its sustained success ensured that it was copied by his
rivals, who modi¬ed their existing structures and practices to take account
of developments in France. These decades also saw a series of peace
conferences at the end of major wars, following on the great congress
which had produced the settlement at Westphalia in 1648: Nijmegen at
the end of the Dutch War, Ryswick at the close of the Nine Years™ War
and, above all, the extended discussions at Utrecht which brought the War
of the Spanish Succession to a close, and these also fostered the growth
of reciprocal diplomacy as well as increasing admiration for the skill of
French diplomats.60 Such gatherings continued during the ¬rst half of the
eighteenth century, with unsuccessful congresses at Cambrai (1724) and
Soissons (1728“9) and meetings at Breda and Aix-la-Chapelle (1746“8)
which produced a peace settlement at the close of the War of the Austrian
Succession. The experience of extended political discussions “ and the
accompanying social interaction “ with representatives of opposing states
and with allies led to closer and more regular contacts, with enduring
Though resident diplomacy had a long history, the scale and nature of
the contacts which evolved during the reign of Louis XIV were quite
novel. The Thirty Years™ War (1618“48) and, to a lesser extent, the
religious con¬‚icts of the previous century had interrupted its develop-
ment. Its evolution from the 1670s was therefore the resumption of an
earlier development, with its roots in Italy and western and southern
Europe at the beginning of the modern period. France was the ¬rst major

59 This has been studied for the Austrian Habsburgs by Klaus Muller, Das kaiserliche
Gesandtschaftswesen im Jahrhundert nach dem Westf¨ lischen Frieden 1648“1740 (Bonn,
1976), and Erwin Matsch, Geschichte des ausw¨ rtigen Dienstes von Osterreich (-Ungarn)
1720“1920 (2nd edn, Vienna, 1986), pp. 13“164 passim; for Sweden by the chapters
in Sven Tunberg et al., Histoire de l™administration des affaires etrang`res de Su`de (1935;
´ e e
French trans., Upsala, 1940), pp. 73“363; and for the Savoyard state by Frigo, Principe,
ambasciatore e ˜jus gentium™, which covers a slightly later period: these remain the sole
detailed studies. The best examination of the model itself is still C.-G. Picavet, La diplo-
matie fran¸aise au temps de Louis XIV (1661“1715): institutions, moeurs et coutumes (Paris,
1930); for the eighteenth century there is a neglected and informative if rather Franco-
centric study by Corneliu S. Blaga, L™´volution de la diplomatie: id´ologie, moeurs et tech-
e e
nique, vol. I: Le dix-huiti`me si`cle (Paris, 1938).
e e
60 This has been illuminated by the seminal work of Lucien B´ ly: see his ˜M´ thodes et
e e
perspectives dans l™´ tude des n´ gociations internationales a l™´ poque moderne™, in Rainer
e e `e
Babel, ed., Frankreich im europ¨ ischen Staatensystem der Fr¨ hen Neuzeit (Paris, 1995),
a u
pp. 219“34, and his large-scale Espions et ambassadeurs, esp. ch. 4. For contemporary
testimony, see La Sarraz, Le ministre public, p. 218.
72 Hamish Scott

state to adapt to the new-style resident diplomacy, and her political suc-
cesses ensured that French techniques were copied. The reciprocal nature
of diplomatic representation ensured this network would spread across
Europe, and by the mid-eighteenth century the continent™s capitals were
linked by permanent representatives.61
In important ways Renaissance diplomacy had been quite different
from its eighteenth-century successor, which was both more continuous
and usually conducted by representatives of a much higher social stand-
ing. Noblemen and even great aristocrats had acted as diplomats in the
past, but they had usually tended to take short, often ˜glamour™ missions:
to arrange a dynastic marriage, to conclude an alliance, to negotiate a
peace settlement. Resident missions had normally been ¬lled by indi-
viduals of much lower social standing and sometimes foreigners. The
great international lawyer, the Dutchman Grotius, had been Sweden™s
ambassador in Paris for three decades (1635“65).62 By the later seven-
teenth century the employment of non-nationals was becoming unusual,
in Sweden as elsewhere.63 Traditionally a diplomat™s main function had
been to acquire the information that lubricated the wheels of government,
and this long remained his principal function.64 In the decades around
1700 the established distinction between such reporting and handling
negotiations “ the two functions identi¬ed by writers such as Calli` res “
was gradually eroded. Noblemen continued to head ˜glamour™ missions,
but for the ¬rst time also began to serve in large numbers as resident diplo-
mats.66 The consequence was that during and immediately after the reign
of Louis XIV diplomacy fully acquired the noble ethos which it would
retain until the First World War.

This was the third dimension of the new diplomatic culture: the growing
dominance of the social elite, evident from the ¬nal decades of the sev-
enteenth century onwards, and, linked to it, the enhanced importance
of the monarchical court. Earlier generations had emphasised the value

61 The great work of Enlightenment international law, Emer de Vattel, Le droit de gens, ¬rst
published in 1758, makes clear how well established this was: 3 vols., Washington, 1916,
Book 4, chs. 5“9, pp. 362“98, setting out its rules and conventions.
62 Tunberg et al., Histoire de l™administration des affaires etrang`res, p. 110.
´ e
63 Ibid., pp. 228, 234: in 1723 the Chancery Ordinance formally reserved diplomatic
appointments for native-born Swedes.
64 In the later seventeenth century the ˜Embajada espa˜ ola™ regarded actual negotiations as
a minor dimension of an ambassador™s duties: p. 27 and passim.
65 Fran¸ois de Calli`res: The Art of Diplomacy eds. H. M. A. Keens-Soper and Karl W.
c e
Schweizer (Leicester and New York, 1983), p. 110.
66 Chamoy, L™id´e du parfait ambassadeur, p. 20; ˜Embajada espa˜ ola™, p. 3.
e n
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 73

of the humanist culture of the Renaissance for ambassadors, but it was
now replaced by a concern with social origins and speci¬c skills. It is
striking that Wicquefort, in by far the best-known and most in¬‚uential
handbook of the age of Louis XIV, had set his face ¬rmly against sending
noblemen. His emphasis upon the need for professionalism made him
sceptical about the value of birth alone. Except for purely ceremonial
missions, Wicquefort did not think that nobles made good diplomats.
On the contrary: they were too fond of war, and too full of their own
importance and so given to private initiatives, rather than following their
instructions in the way he deemed essential.67
If we move on four decades or so, to the diplomatic world described
by Calli` res and Pecquet, the situation had changed completely.68 Both
assumed that only nobles could head missions, and that the world of
diplomacy was dominated by the elite. Pecquet was quite explicit, declar-
ing that only members of the nobility would make good ambassadors or
envoys because they alone would have the appropriate education and,
more importantly, would be familiar with the kind of court society which
diplomats now inhabited.69 They were endowed with the connections
and the social poise to open doors, while the titles many possessed were
intended to impress the courts to which they were sent, where these were
viewed as additional marks of favour. This was linked to a wider evolu-
tion, as the burgeoning Grand Tour was beginning to internationalise the
aristocratic elite in many continental countries and to break down the
barriers between one national nobility and another.
A diplomat™s primary task was still to represent his ruler, and a noble-
man was best equipped to do this. These arguments were reinforced by
two additional considerations: the absence, in many European countries,
of a sizeable alternative social group from which ambassadors could be
drawn, particularly as fewer and fewer churchmen were sent as diplo-
mats except (in Catholic monarchies) to Rome, and the assumption that
noble diplomats would expend their own considerable resources on their
missions, which they viewed as strengthening their links with the ruler,
as part of the service which their families had always provided and as
opportunities for their own collecting and cultural patronage. Within an
overwhelmingly agrarian economy, the nobility still controlled by far the
greatest proportion of Europe™s wealth, and a diplomatic mission required
substantial private means.70

67 L™ambassadeur et ses fonctions, I.154“9, and II.7, 98.
68 See also Chamoy, L™id´e du parfait ambassadeur, pp. 18, 22; La Sarraz, Le ministre public,
pp. 28, 91“6 passim.
69 De l™art de n´gocier avec les souverains, pp. 46“7, 65, 102, 107“9, and passim.
70 La Sarraz, Le ministre public, pp. 180“5, has an interesting discussion.
74 Hamish Scott

The change identi¬ed by the two French of¬cials is borne out by
studies of Europe™s diplomatic corps, which were becoming more blue-
blooded.71 There were important exceptions: above all the Dutch Repub-
lic and the British state, with their distinctive social structures. Yet while
most Dutch diplomats were drawn from the Regent oligarchy in the towns
of Holland and Zeeland, some came from the nobility of the landward
provinces; while Britain™s diplomatic service contained a signi¬cant num-
ber of peers, largely in the major embassies.72 The ranks of Prussia™s diplo-
mats contained an unusual number of non-Prussians and non-nobles,
re¬‚ecting the complete primacy of military service for the elite after the
reign of Frederick William I, while it took several decades for the num-
bers of native Russian noblemen serving as ambassadors and envoys to
reach the level found in other countries. But elsewhere the general trend is
clear. Nobles dominated the embassies and other missions of the Euro-
pean powers.73 As in so much else, France took the lead. In the later
seventeenth century members of the traditional nobility (noblesse d™´p´e),ee
often with military service behind them, began to predominate. Ep´e e
families were in any case attracted to service as ambassadors, and between
1648 and 1789 almost one-third of French diplomats “ 104 out of around
350 “ came from such lineages. By contrast less than one in eight “ 40 in
total “ came from an administrative background in the noblesse de robe.
Most eighteenth-century diplomatic corps were dominated by noble-
men from long-established families to an unprecedented extent, while any
commoners were quickly ennobled. This is borne out by several detailed
studies. During the period 1648“1740, 61 per cent of Austrian Habs-
burg diplomats holding the rank of resident or above were either imperial
nobles or members of the Herrenstand, and a further 22 per cent were
lesser noblemen or those recently ennobled; only 12 per cent can be styled
bourgeois.75 In the Savoyard state, out of 54 diplomatic appointments
during these decades, 36 went to members of established noble families,

71 B´ ly, Espions et ambassadeurs, pp. 291“301 and 307“11, demonstrates that this was so
for the period 1697“1715.
72 Horn, The British Diplomatic Service, ch. 5 passim.
73 This pattern is con¬rmed by the standard, if incomplete, list of diplomatic representatives
for the period 1648“1815: L. Bittner, L. Gross and L. Santifaller, eds., Repertorium der
diplomatischen Vertreter aller L¨ nder (3 vols., Berlin, Zurich and Graz, 1936“65).
a ¨
74 Jean Baillou, ed., Les affaires etrang`res et le corps diplomatique fran¸ais (2 vols., Paris, 1984),
´ e c
I.184“6, 189; Picavet, La diplomatie fran¸aise au temps de Louis XIV, pp. 73“119; B´ chu,
c e
˜Les ambassadeurs fran¸ ais au XVIIIe si` cle™, in B´ ly, ed., L™invention de la diplomatie,
c e e
p. 333.
75 The calculation is by Klaus Maletkke, in Jean-Michel Boehler, Christine Lebeau and
Bernard Vogler, eds., Les elites r´gionales (XVIIe“XXe si`cle): construction de soi-mˆme et
´ e e e
service de l™autre (Strasbourg, 2002), p. 27; its unique source is the standard study by
Muller, Das kaiserliche Gesandtschaftswesen, esp. pp. 180“215.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 75

15 to lineages of more recent creation, while only 3 went to commoners
and they were ennobled during their careers.76 Spain™s ambassadors and
envoys were more high-ranking, even eclipsing those of their French ally
where the key Paris embassy at least was concerned.77 The Spanish diplo-
matic service was a noble redoubt: out of 167 ambassadors, envoys or
charg´ s d™affaires who headed missions between 1700 and 1808, around
30 were grandees, in other words members of the aristocratic elite, who
inevitably dominated the most prestigious embassies, while the remain-
der were drawn predominantly from the long-established and prominent
noble families. By comparison relatively few ducs et pairs, the apex of the
French nobility, became diplomats in the period 1648“1789, and those
who did were usually sent to Rome. The extended absence from court
made such missions unattractive to French aristocrats, who were inclined
to view an embassy as an exile.78
The grip of the traditional nobility on Spanish diplomatic posts
strengthened during the eighteenth century. In the period 1700“59 it
provided 76 per cent of all diplomats; this ¬gure rose to almost 86 per
cent for the period after Charles III™s accession. These men overwhelm-
ingly had served previously either in the army or central government.
Even the Spanish secretaries of embassies came from the lesser nobil-
ity.79 One corollary, in Spain as elsewhere, was that a clear majority of
these men lacked any relevant experience or training and took only one
mission, which was likely to be short: over 60 per cent in the Spanish
case, with almost half of all posts being held for less than four years.
This inevitably militated against the development of professionalism or a
career structure.80
The noble monopoly could result from a deliberate political strategy
pursued for internal reasons. One example was the new Bourbon King-
dom of Naples, which came into existence only in 1734 and had to create
a diplomatic apparatus ab initio. The new ruler, Charles VII “ the future
Charles III of Spain “ set out quite deliberately to attach the powerful
nobility to his regime by giving them a monopoly over such appointments.

76 Storrs, ˜Savoyard Diplomacy™, p. 245 for the ¬gures; Frigo, Principe, ambasciatore e ˜jus
gentium™, pp. 119“52, for a detailed study of diplomatic appointments, con¬rming the
dominance of the traditional nobility.
77 Didier Ozanam, Les diplomates espagnols du xviiie si`cle: introduction et r´pertoire
e e
biographique (1700“1808) (Madrid-Bordeaux, 1998), pp. 9“125, provides the fullest and
most systematic study of any single country; B´ ly, Espions et ambassadeurs, pp. 294“5;
cf. Baillou, ed., Les affaires etrang`res, I.184“5, for the situation in the French capital.
´ e
78 Baillou, ed., Les affaires etrang`res, I.184“5.
´ e
79 Ozanam, Les diplomates espagnols, esp. pp. 31“3, 35“7, 75, 123. I have presented his
¬gures in round numbers.
80 Ibid., pp. 38, 47, 123.
76 Hamish Scott

In a pattern which could be found throughout Europe, members of lead-
ing families were awarded the prestige embassies “ Madrid, Paris and
Vienna “ while lesser nobles were appointed to minor legations.81 This
reinforced, rather than overriding, the requirement that any representa-
tive of the ruler should be capable of representing his master and should
have the social poise and dignity to ¬ll such a post: which here, as else-
where, suggested the choice of noblemen.
The fact that more than half of Spain™s diplomats took only a single
embassy highlighted one negative consequence of growing noble domi-
nance throughout Europe. Though the Spanish ¬gures may have been
higher than elsewhere, the problem was ubiquitous. Since aristocrats
usually lacked relevant experience and were unlikely to submit to the
training that was desirable, their involvement militated against the estab-
lishment of more professional standards, believed essential by all theo-
rists and many statesmen. In practice, however, the consequent problems
were mitigated by sending experienced diplomats as part of the enlarged
embassies becoming common at this time. These men, who were either
members of the lesser nobility or were soon ennobled, brought experience
and expertise, and conferred a degree of professionalism on eighteenth-
century diplomacy. Though they carried out much of the day-to-day work
of Europe™s embassies, their role was eclipsed, at the time and since, by
the great noblemen who occupied most of the important posts. In any
case, the ethos of Europe™s diplomatic services was established by the
aristocratic ambassadors and percolated down through the other ranks.
The trend was reinforced by its corollary: in most countries the nobility
also dominated the highest positions in the new and larger agencies set up
at this time to handle foreign policy.82 The growing volume of negotia-
tions, as resident diplomacy became established, made such specialisation
desirable; it also re¬‚ected a wider development, as governments evolved
from their traditional judicial mode into more modern administrative
structures. Once again France led the way, with the elaboration of a large
and well-organised foreign of¬ce containing many more specialised per-
sonnel during the second half of Louis XIV™s reign, and it served as the
model for several European states.83 Bourbon Spain™s new rulers lost no
time in creating a French-style Secretariat of State for Foreign Affairs in

81 Maria Grazia Maiorini, ˜Neapolitan Diplomacy in the Eighteenth Century: Policy and
the Diplomatic Apparatus™, in Frigo, ed., Politics and Diplomacy, pp. 176“209, esp.
pp. 179, 193, 202“8; cf. the comments of the editor: ˜Introduction™, pp. 20“2.
82 This is a central theme of Frigo: Principe, ambasciatore e ˜jus gentium™.
83 The best introduction remains John C. Rule, ˜Colbert de Torcy, an Emergent Bureau-
cracy, and the Formulation of French Foreign Policy, 1698“1715™, in Ragnhild Hatton,
ed., Louis XIV and Europe (London, 1976), pp. 261“88.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 77

1714. Though initially it merely administered policy, it slowly evolved into
a specialised ministry of foreign affairs, which it had become by the later
eighteenth century. The example of France also inspired developments in
the Savoyard state, where a separate Secretary of State for foreign affairs
was established in 1717; further reforms a generation later made Turin™s
foreign of¬ce one of the most modern and professional in Europe.84
The growing international pretensions of Russia and Prussia were evi-
dent in similar changes. In 1719 Peter the Great replaced the old Depart-
ment of Embassies (Posolskii Prikaz) with a College of Foreign Affairs,
which expanded rapidly. In Prussia the extensive reform of central admin-
istration carried through by Frederick William I involved the setting up of
a Department of External Affairs (Ausw¨ rtiges Amt) in 1728. Five years
later (1733) it became known as the Kabinettsministerium, though it was “
in common with all Prussian government “ still organised on a colle-
gial basis. In some countries such reforms were delayed: Britain only
acquired a single foreign secretaryship in 1782, while in the Habsburg
Monarchy reforms introduced in 1742 and 1753 created a more mod-
ern State Chancellery (Staatskanzlei). Such changes were not ubiquitous
and could be impermanent: the Kabinettsministerium lost power immedi-
ately upon Frederick the Great™s accession, as the king made clear that
he would act as his own foreign minister, while the College of Foreign
Affairs suffered from the growing inef¬ciency of all Russian government
in the mid-eighteenth century. The general trend is clear, however. In all
important European states this period saw the emergence of specialised
ministers responsible primarily for foreign affairs, supported by expanded
and increasingly specialised staffs, often with appropriate training which
was usually in law, and occupying designated buildings. Here too the
wider effect of these changes was to reinforce the diplomatic culture
which was becoming established, by ensuring more uniform practices
and procedures were adopted.
These agencies were staffed by men drawn overwhelmingly from the
nobility, whether from the traditional military lineages, or the more
recently ennobled families who had risen through service, usually in royal
government. This reinforced the noble ethos, apparent in the selection of
personnel at every turn. Europe™s diplomacy was becoming more aristo-
cratic in a second sense, moreover, as it came to be suffused by the elite™s
social and cultural assumptions. It was due to the increasing and unprece-
dented role of courts in diplomacy.85 This exempli¬ed the continuing

84 Frigo, Principe, ambasciatore e ˜jus gentium™, pp. 25“98 passim, for these developments.
85 Jeroen Duindam, Vienna and Versailles: The Courts of Europe™s Dynastic Rivals (Cambridge,
2003), ch. 6, esp. pp. 183, 199“200, 215.
78 Hamish Scott

importance of the royal court, emphasised by Tim Blanning.86 At one
level it resulted from the nobility™s dominance of resident diplomacy.
Nobles, accustomed to living at court in their own countries, expected
to do so during their missions, which now lasted for several years rather
than a few months. The long eighteenth century saw diplomats become a
permanent feature of Europe™s courts and the aristocratic societies which
underpinned them. Though they were not admitted to every court gath-
ering, they were permitted to attend a signi¬cant number. At most courts,
moreover, diplomatic receptions and audiences were among the most fre-
quent ceremonies.87 Resident diplomacy ensured that its protocol had to
be integrated into the established ceremonial of Europe™s monarchies.88
The courts of the rulers and of members of their families played a central
role in diplomacy as the location where ambassadors and envoys could
mingle with native aristocrats, ministers of the host government and even
members of the ruling dynasty. Regular attendance at court “ for those
envoys whose diplomatic character and own social status were suf¬ciently
exalted to secure admission, as was normally the case for representatives
of leading states “ was an essential dimension of their duties as well as a
welcome social diversion.
This strengthened the noble dominance and aristocratic tone of old
regime diplomacy. When Calli` res and Pecquet recommended the selec-
tion of noblemen, they were merely re¬‚ecting a widespread assumption
that they would have to inhabit the same world in which they themselves
had been educated and lived their lives. Resident diplomacy came to be
an aggregate of all Europe™s court societies.89 The ˜perfect ambassador™ “
which existed only in the minds of the more optimistic diplomatic the-
orists “ was in this perspective the latter-day equivalent of Castiglione™s
famous courtier and was expected to possess very similar qualities. Pec-
quet™s celebrated characterisation of the ˜society™ of diplomats was an
extension of the kind of court society to be found in virtually all European
monarchies, which was now transposed on to the world of international
diplomacy.90 He, like Calli` res, modelled their ˜art of negotiation™ on the

86 The Culture of Power, part 1.
87 There is a suggestive study of the situation at Munich by Samuel John Klingensmith,
The Utility of Splendor: Social Life and Architecture at the Court of Bavaria, 1600“1800
(Chicago, 1993), esp. ch. vi; William Roosen, ˜Early Modern Diplomatic Ceremonial:
A Systems Approach™, Journal of Modern History 52 (1980), pp. 452“76, has some useful
88 See, e.g., for the case of Rome, Maria Antonietta Visceglia et al., eds., C´r´moniel et rituel
a Rome, XVIe“XIX si`cles (Rome, 1997), and for that of Spain, Christina Hofmann, Das
` e
spanische Hofzeremoniell von 1500“1700 (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1985).
89 B´ ly, Espions et ambassadeurs, p. 374.
90 Marc Belissa, Fraternit´ universelle et int´rˆt national (1713“1795): les cosmopolitiques du
e ee
droit des gens (Paris, 1998), pp. 103, 106“7.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 79

psychological art of the courtier to manage men, control passions and
(where necessary) dissemble. The resulting outlook was less the prod-
uct of professional training than of acculturation. Diplomats, who had
undergone the socialisation which was part of the upbringing of every
aristocratic child, completed their formation at court, where the norms of
conduct assumed ¬nal form.
It had one important consequence, which proved enduring. Questions
of protocol and etiquette had always been important in diplomacy, since a
ruler™s personal honour and political standing were at stake, but they now
achieved quite new levels of formality and precision. The ceremonial of
embassy and court interacted, each becoming more complex as a result. It
began with a series of well-known disputes between French and Spanish
diplomats in the 1660s, and gathered pace thereafter. Broadly speak-
ing, the highest-ranking representatives were sent to the more important
courts, though there were exceptions. Everywhere, however, the social
rank of diplomats, and their titles and other honours, further compli-
cated the established problems of protocol and precedence. ˜The interest
of regard™, as it was termed in the eighteenth century, was a central issue
for all ambassadors, to be disregarded at their peril. Whether a diplomat
was placed lower than a rival at a formal dinner or other such occasion, the
thorny question of the honours due to particular ambassadors at certain
courts, or the issue of the ˜alternative™, the practice by which “ to secure
equality of rank “ one monarch was named ¬rst in one copy of any treaty
and the other in the second copy: these were the issues which preoccupied
diplomats throughout the eighteenth century and long after. What can be
recognised to be happening, with the considerable bene¬t of hindsight,
is that greater involvement and exposure to court life led to its etiquette
fusing with established questions of diplomatic precedence to produce a
more formalised, and also more complex, series of permutations.
Symptomatic of this development was the second and substantially
expanded edition of Dumont™s celebrated collection of treaties.91 The
bulky fourth and ¬fth volumes of this work “ clearly intended to guide
working diplomats within a system where precedent was the main guide
to protocol92 “ were devoted to etiquette and bore the signi¬cant title,
Le c´r´monial diplomatique des cours de l™Europe. This was an early use

91 (Jean Dumont), Supplement au Corps universel diplomatique du droit de gens (5 vols.,
Amsterdam-The Hague, 1739). After the publication of the ¬rst edition (1726“31) its
compiler determined to produce an enlarged and updated second edition, which would
give full attention to ceremonial, but he died before the work was very far advanced.
It was completed by another well-known publicist, Rousset de Missy. The ˜Avertisse-
ment de l™´ diteur du supplement™ printed at the beginning of volume I makes clear the
circumstances of the republication.
92 A point explicitly made in the ˜Avertissement de l™´ diteur™ at the beginning of the ¬rst
volume (iv) devoted to ceremonial.
80 Hamish Scott

of the adjective ˜diplomatique™ in its modern sense and clearly quali¬es
established generalisations about the chronology of the linguistic shift
that was in progress. More important, however, was its tabulation of
diplomatic ceremonial in all its complexity and its incidental con¬rmation
that such protocol had become very largely that of the court. This built on
a substantial earlier literature, particularly in German and also linked to
diplomatic theory.93 Referred to in passing by the publisher as the Corps
diplomatique du c´r´monial, its ¬rst volume was devoted to the courts of
the French Bourbons and the Austrian Habsburgs, and ran to 781 bulky
folio pages. The second part “ which weighed in at 860 folio pages “ was
devoted to the Papal court, that of the Spanish Bourbons and the other
capitals of Europe, including Russia and even the Ottoman Empire. The
two volumes were striking testimony to the new formality of reciprocal
diplomacy by the mid-eighteenth century.
The documents it contained were very largely in French, and the
whole compilation provides a guide to the diplomatic culture spreading
across Europe. That culture was francophone, based upon continuous
political relations, hierarchical in both its assumptions and personnel,
aristocratic “ or at least dominated by the ethos of the nobility “ and
located at court, as much as and perhaps more than in the of¬ces of pro-
tean departments of state. It was informal as much as formal and had
come to be concessive and negotiatory in tone. The ambassador or envoy
spent much of his time on an extended ˜social round™ of dinners, recep-
tions, musical and theatrical events of all kinds, many of which took place
at court or in the aristocratic society which surrounded this. These were
quite crucial to his mission, and provided an opportunity to acquire infor-
mation, to observe his rivals and the host government, and to insinuate
ideas to the ministers of the court to which he was accredited and even to
the ruler. Though these decades saw continuous negotiations of the mod-
ern kind become part of a diplomat™s duties, these always consumed far
less time than informal contacts and social gatherings, and could be less
important for the outcome of his mission. The political function of the
social round was to permit the exchange of information: diplomats traded
scraps of intelligence as commodities and in this way secured much of
the news which ¬lled their despatches.94
The crucial importance of a court society and an established diplo-
matic round was best demonstrated by the example of eighteenth-century

93 See Milos Vec, Zeremonialwissenschaft im F¨ rstenstaat: Studien zur juristischen und politis-
chen Theorie absolutistischer Herrschaftsrepr¨ sentation (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1998).
94 Signi¬cantly, Martens, Manuel diplomatique, p. 106, spoke of the need for an ˜´ change™
of information, while La Sarraz, Le ministre public, pp. 201“2, talked of the value of a
˜Commerce™ with fellow diplomats; cf. Anderson, Rise of Modern Diplomacy, p. 43.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 81

Prussia, where both were extremely attenuated and at times threatened
to disappear altogether. This was particularly so after the Seven Years™
War (1756“63), when the king effectively retreated to the garrison town of
Potsdam and focused his energies and resources on restoring his shattered
territories. During the reigns of his predecessors, a basic social round had
existed at Berlin and, despite Frederick the Great™s efforts to restrict it,
continued throughout his reign, though always on an in¬nitely smaller
scale than in other capitals: something upon which newcomers did not
fail to comment.95 ˜Dull and insipid™ was the British diplomat Hugh
Elliot™s decisive verdict.96 This was correctly attributed to the poverty of
the country and the people, as well as the royal disfavour towards such
contacts, which radiated out from Potsdam.
By Frederick™s ¬nal decade the two ministers formally responsible for
Prussia™s foreign policy gave relatively few dinners for the diplomatic
corps, perhaps no more than ¬ve or six a year, and also did not open
their own houses at all regularly in the evenings, while other of¬cials and
military commanders were even more stingy with their hospitality, giving
only three or four dinners annually.97 When Karl von Zinzendorf visited
Berlin in 1770 he declared that the social round was far less extensive
than at any major court through which he had passed: a signi¬cant ver-
dict given his wide-ranging travels during the previous decade.98 The
contrast with Vienna was striking: Kaunitz held open house at least every
week, welcomed visitors on a large scale and regularly gave more intimate
dinners for foreign diplomats.99 In Berlin, however, the life of a foreign
representative was as bleak as the Brandenburg weather. Diplomats lived
within a laager in the Prussian capital and only occasionally sallied out
beyond its walls: one well-placed observer rightly declared that foreign
representatives were kept behind a cordon sanitaire.100 The only regular

95 Earl of Malmesbury, ed., Diaries and Correspondence of James Harris, First Earl of Malmes-
bury (4 vols., London, 1844), I.97“8; Countess of Minto, A Memoir of the Right Hon-
ourable Hugh Elliot (Edinburgh, 1868), pp. 193“4, 202, 217, for the views of Robert
Liston, who was successively secretary to Hugh Elliot (Britain™s envoy extraordinary
1777“82) and charg´ d™affaires during the latter™s absence in 1779“80.
96 Minto, A Memoir of Hugh Elliot, p. 202.
97 See the Chevalier de Gaussen™s account of diplomacy in Berlin, substantially published
by F. Masson, ed., ˜Berlin il y a cent ans™, Revue d™histoire diplomatique 5 (1891), pp.
28“65, at pp. 36, 38.
98 Haus-, Hof-, und Staatsarchiv (Vienna) (HHStA), Tagebuch Zinzendorf [the diary of
Karl von Zinzendorf], vol. XV (1770), fos. 86 et seq.
99 This emerges from ibid., vols. VIII“IX and XV“XVII, passim. This is an unparallelled
source for one informal diplomatic society, that of Vienna, which is dif¬cult in most
capitals to reconstruct in any detail.
100 Didier Thi´ bault, Mes souvenirs de vingt ans de s´jour a Berlin (3rd edn, revised by A. H.
e e `
Dampmartin; 4 vols., Paris, 1813), II.358“9.
82 Hamish Scott

dinners and receptions were laid on by fellow envoys and of these there
were “ according to the French charg´ d™affaires in the 1770s “ no more
than one or two a week, despite a clear attempt by the diplomatic corps
itself during the previous decade to establish the kind of social round
found elsewhere, though with incomplete success.101 The contrast with
the situation at every other major court was striking. In Berlin most diplo-
mats habitually dined at home, and grasped at the earliest opportunity
for a transfer from the Prussian capital.

The diplomatic culture of old regime Europe emerged and ¬‚ourished dur-
ing the century from the 1680s to the 1780s: from the world described
by Wicquefort to that disrupted by the French Revolution. Yet, like other
aspects of the old order, it proved surprisingly resilient, continuing long
into the nineteenth century and, to some extent, until the First World
War.102 There is no doubt that the diplomats and foreign ministers of
successive French regimes after the summer of 1789 were often very
different ¬gures from their eighteenth-century predecessors, which high-
lighted the growing divergence and, soon, clash between the established
powers and the new French Republic.103 Revolutionary diplomats were
much less likely to be members of the nobility, which in any case was
formally abolished in 1790. They dressed and spoke in different ways;
more importantly, they behaved in a new manner. Emblematic was the
celebrated conduct of Siey` s who in the summer of 1798 appeared at
the formal ˜ceremony of homage™ for the new Prussian king, Frederick
William III, clad in a red, white and blue Roman toga and challenged the
monarchical ceremonial taking place around him by his severely repub-
lican pose.104 Here, as elsewhere, the French Revolution and its agents
were consciously reacting against the world of the eighteenth century and
its dominant political culture, a challenge most clearly articulated during

101 These efforts are apparent from Gaussen™s journal: ˜Berlin il y a cent ans™, passim.
102 After this essay had been drafted, I was fortunate enough to attend a conference at
the German Historical Institute London in September 2005 on ˜The Cultural History
of Diplomacy 1815“1914™, organised by Markus Moßlang and Torsten Riotte: see the
summary of its proceedings in the Bulletin of the German Historical Institute London 28: 1
(2006), pp. 120“6. The forthcoming publication of the papers given at this conference
will open up the nineteenth-century trajectory of the subject.
103 There are lively, overlapping accounts of this by Linda S. and Marsha L. Frey, ˜“The
Reign of the Charlatans is Over”: The French Revolutionary Attack on Diplomatic
Practice™, Journal of Modern History 65 (1993), pp. 706“44, and The History of Diplomatic
Immunity, ch. viii.
104 Brendan Simms, The Impact of Napoleon: Prussian High Politics, Foreign Policy and the
Crisis of the Executive, 1797“1806 (Cambridge, 1997), p. 90.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 83

the Assembly debates in spring 1790. The old regime world of diplo-
macy, wars and positive international law was to be replaced by peaceful
co-existence, mutually enriching trade and an international legal system
embodying the universal rights of man.105
The sea change was especially apparent to a diplomat like James Harris,
Earl of Malmesbury, who had been the leading British ambassador of the
later eighteenth century. In the mid-1790s he was plucked from semi-
retirement and sent by the ministry of William Pitt the Younger to nego-
tiate with the Directory, notably at Lille in the summer and autumn of
1797. Harris, the polished, subtle diplomat of the old order, was acutely
conscious of encountering a quite new political world. He identi¬ed two
particular differences. The ¬rst was the absence of social events at which
diplomacy could be pursued by other means, the kind of gatherings which
had been integral to the diplomatic world of eighteenth-century Europe
with which he was familiar. Instead Harris met the French representa-
tives in isolated, intermittent and always formal conferences. Secondly,
he found a notable lack of give-and-take in his discussions: his French
counterparts, he reluctantly concluded, were actually his adversaries who
stated and then held to their demands, whether political or territorial. The
growing military success of revolutionary France was part of the expla-
nation for this, and Harris™s mission “ the success of which was always
improbable “ was ended by the even more intransigent approach adopted
by the Directory after the Fructidor coup. But its failure also was testi-
mony to the breakdown of the old diplomatic order. The concessive world
of eighteenth-century diplomacy, conducted by ambassadors who were
members of the same international society, had collapsed, to be replaced
by a much more confrontational and grasping approach.106 The leading
exponent of this would soon turn out to be none other than Napoleon
Though the breach with the old regime was undoubted, it did not prove
enduring. When peace was restored at the end of the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic Wars, and a genuine if incomplete attempt made to restore
much “ though far from all “ of the old order, its distinctive diplomatic
culture was also restored. This was done, in a way which was deeply iron-
ical, by a group of rulers, statesmen, ambassadors and envoys who began
by excluding defeated France “ temporarily as it proved “ from their delib-
erations and who intended to make the world safe from French power
in the future, but conducted their negotiations, formal and informal, in
French and drew up the ¬nal peace treaty in that same language.

105 Belissa, Fraternit´ universelle et int´rˆt national, p. 7 and passim.
e ee
106 Malmesbury Diaries, III.309, 506, 556, 563“4.
84 Hamish Scott

The Congress of Vienna in 1814“15 was at one level a profoundly
eighteenth-century diplomatic occasion, with its glittering social round,
extensive informal negotiations and periodic formal conferences: though
it was quite unprecedented in its scale and in the presence in the Aus-
trian capital of so many rulers and foreign ministers, as well as their
ambassadors and other diplomats. This was why an eighteenth-century
aristocrat like the Prince de Ligne was so comfortable attending its gath-
erings.107 It was a self-conscious return to a dynastic world which, at
times during the two previous decades, many of its participants feared
had been lost forever. Exactly as, a hundred years before, the Congress of
Utrecht had accelerated the development of a European diplomatic cul-
ture, so now the gathering in Vienna encouraged and deliberately fostered
the restoration of that same culture. One of the neglected achievements
of the Congress System after 1815 was to codify diplomatic arrange-
ments and in so doing to perpetuate many of the practices of eighteenth-
century European diplomacy, which embodied its distinctive culture and
did something to mitigate the brutal realities of the competitive states-
The nineteenth-century diplomatic world, at least down to the 1870s
and 1880s, remained that of old regime Europe: concessive, negotiatory,
francophone, dynastic, focused on the court as much as the chancellery,
dominated by members of the nobility who were expected almost every-
where to possess a private income to support their careers. Only in the
France of the Third Republic from the 1880s onwards did the nobility™s
grip slacken and then disappear. Everywhere, family ties and the exercise
of patronage remained the keys to appointment and advancement. Karl
von Martens™s celebrated manual, deeply eighteenth-century in its con-
tents and assumptions109 and frequently reprinted, remained the political
lexicon of all diplomats until the ¬nal decades of the new century. The
relatively small size of most foreign services fostered and enhanced the
importance of tradition and esprit de corps within the caste of diplomats,
who everywhere saw themselves as upholders of tradition, the keepers of
a sacred ¬‚ame. The nineteenth century did see important changes: the
geographical extension of the states-system to areas beyond Europe with

107 Philip Mansel, Le charmeur de l™Europe: Charles-Joseph de Ligne (1735“1814) (Paris,
1992), pp. 259“70. Ligne of course died in December 1814, worn out by the social
demands of the congress.
108 This was accomplished by the ˜R` glement on the Precedence of Diplomatic Agents™,
19 March 1815, with an addition concluded on 21 November 1818: Clive Parry,
ed., The Consolidated Treaty Series (231 vols., Dobbs Ferry, NY, 1969“86), LXIV.1“3;
109 See esp. Manuel diplomatique, pp. 9“10.
Diplomatic culture in old regime Europe 85

consequent innovations at the periphery, the need to deal more and more
with commercial and economic questions as well as political and strategic
ones, the increasing role in some states of the new forces of public opin-
ion and press, above all the introduction of the telegraph which increased
the velocity of communications and consequently the workload, while
reducing the extent of individual initiative expected of a diplomat. Fac-
tors such as these, together with the growing nationalism apparent after
mid-century, gradually eroded the international culture of diplomacy.
The real end of the diplomatic old regime and the distinctive culture at
its heart was to be the First World War and the peace conference at Ver-
sailles which followed: exactly as, a generation ago, Arno Mayer argued
for the persistence of a noble-dominated old regime suffering its ¬nal
eclipse between the 1880s and 1920s.110 One ¬nal circumstance epito-


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