Diplomatic Classics: Selected texts from Commynes to Vattel
(Palgrave-Macmillan, Basingstoke and New York, 2004)

Edited and introduced by G. R. Berridge

Diplomatic Classics: Selected texts from Commynes to Vattel book cover

This book provides convenient access to the thought of some of the most important figures writing on diplomacy when modern diplomacy was taking shape; that is, in the interval between the end of the middle ages and the French revolution. Lengthy passages from two works, De Vera’s Le parfait ambassadeur and Pecquet’s Discours sur l’art de négocier, appear in English translation for the first time. In the main, I chose the selections to highlight the contributions for which the individual writers are best known (for example, the attack by Commynes on ‘summitry’), although some were picked with a view to modern interests (for example, De Vera’s views on women in diplomacy). In the interests of clarity, selections from some of the 14 texts represented are grouped under thematic sub-headings. All are fully introduced, annotated, and accompanied by recommendations for further reading.



  • The art of negotiation
  • The personnel
  • The channels of negotiation
  • Diplomacy in the states-system
  1.  Commynes: The Memoirs
  2.  Machiavelli: Advice to Raffaello Girolami
  3.  Guicciardini: The Ricordi
  4.  Gentili: Three Books on Embassies
  5.  Hotman: The Ambassador
  6.  Bacon: Of Negotiating
  7.  De Vera: The Perfect Ambassador
  8.  Grotius: On the Right of Legation
  9.  Richelieu: Political Testament
  10.  Wicquefort: The Embassador and his Functions
  11.  Callieres: The Art of Negotiating with Sovereign Princes
  12.  Bynkershoek: Jurisdiction over Ambassadors
  13.  Pecquet: Discourse on the Art of Negotiating
  14.  Vattel: The Law of Nations


This is not the sort of book that gains scholarly reviews but got 4 stars and one review from Goodreads:

‘This is an excellent introduction to the fundamental issues of diplomacy: diplomatic immunity, sovereign immunity, the perfect ambassador, proper negotiation strategies, etc. Moreover, Berridge does a terrific job as general editor, presenting relevant, concise excerpts. The introduction to the book is good, as well.’ [Thank you, ‘Joe’!]

It was clearly not a commercial success and is no longer available from conglomerate Springer, which gobbled Palgrave-Macmillan some years ago.