English medieval diplomacy

English medieval diplomacy

This article was downloaded by: [Moskow State Univ Bibliote] On: 01 February 2014, At: 09:00 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England an...

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This article was downloaded by: [Moskow State Univ Bibliote] On: 01 February 2014, At: 09:00 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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English medieval diplomacy K.W. Schweizer



New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA Published online: 03 Jan 2012.

To cite this article: K.W. Schweizer (1990) English medieval diplomacy, History of European Ideas, 12:2, 289-289, DOI: 10.1016/0191-6599(90)90250-I To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0191-6599(90)90250-I

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English Medieval Diplomacy, $25.00

G.P. Cuttino




1985), 162 pp.,

In 1940, Dr Cuttino published his highly regarded ~n~~is~~~piornat~c~~rn~~i~trut~o~, 1259-1339-a meticulous account of diplomatic practice and procedures during an intensely complex period of English foreign relations. He now has produced what is essentially a companion volume-not concerned with the mechanisms of diplomacy but with the evolution-the aims, successes and failures-of English diplomacy from AngloSaxon times to the Tudor era. Obviously the survey treatment of such a broad topic has presented the author with special problems of organisation: how to achieve a balance between narrative and analysis, between the generic and the particular, between specific events and more longterm politico-diplomatic relationships. Cuttino’s solution has been to organise his book around three factors or unifying themes seen as central to an understanding of English foreign policy in the medieval period. These are: the Norman conquest which irreversibly entangled England in Continental affairs; the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitane to Henry II, an event complicating international feudal relations by giving a large fief to a crafty vassal king-and lastly, England’s (more precisely Henry V’s) claim to the French throne which eventually changed feudal relations to one of nationai sovereignity. Each of these themes is closely illustrated by key official documents-‘landmarks’ according to the author-which set diplomatic events firmly in their context and illuminate the dynamics of relationships and conflicts most effectively. A further strength of the work is that it also recognises the growth of non-feudal factors determining English policy towards the end of the 14th century and beyond. They were, as is clearly shown, largely commercial, based on mutual economic interests and concerns: the Iberian peninsula, especially Portugal; the Italian city-states; the Teutonic Knights, the Hanseatic league; the Scandinavian kingdoms-‘ what we would call today the consular side of diplomacy’ (p. 115). On all the complex issues explored, a remarkable amount of information is compressed in the space available: data drawn from archival sources, printed records and monographic works supplemented by the latest periodical literature, the whole integrated with style, insight and perception. Indeed, this volume above all shows Dr Cuttino’s enviable aptitude for refining minute research with judgement and perspective-a process carrying his work beyond one dimensionality-so common in narrative surveys-to a full evocation of the manifold complexities behind decisions and events. This is not an easy book to use- certainly not for the undergraduate or a nonspecialist. There are no maps, no glossaries, the footnotes are terse and minimal; also, the author assumes extensive familiarity with English political and economic affairs necessary for understanding the kingdom’s place in western relations. To the professional scholar, however, Cuttino’s volume is a work of the first importance: sophisticated, comprehensive, informative and a pleasure to read. K.W. Schweizer