chapter
11 Pages

Introduction

On the problems of diplomacy
WithAlexander Stagnell

Many contemporary works on diplomacy have taken their starting point in Hans Holbein the Younger’s famous painting The Ambassadors, perhaps not primarily due to his status as one of the greatest portraitists of the Northern Renaissance, but because Holbein’s painting has been considered to portray a novelty in his time: the growth and expansion of modern diplomacy, traditionally thought to have been initiated among the Italian city-states barely a century earlier. Beginning with names, it is possible to identify a remarkable similarity between that of Holbein’s painting and the name of diplomacy, hinging on the fact that they were both baptized long after they first saw the light of day. However, even if the name diplomacy might have a long and continuous history, the question of the object named by the concept has generated a number of controversies.