Outposts of Diplomacy: A History of the Embassy
(Reaktion Books, London, forthcoming)

Outposts of Diplomacy - A history of the embassy

This is my swan song. It’s 110,000 words long (excluding the index) and has 60 black and white illustrations. Publication is scheduled for 1 March 2024 in the UK and 1 May 2024 in the USA.

This is the contents list:


1          Fifteenth-Century Beginnings

2          Expanding Duties

3          Household and Buildings

4          Pre-Telegraphic Communications

5          Nineteenth-Century Highpoint

6          Enter the Americas

7          The Middle East and Africa

8          Far Eastern Compounds

9          Backseat after the First World War

10        Stubborn Institution

Note on Sources
Photo Acknowledgements

The following text is taken from the publisher’s catalogue.

234 mm x 156 mm | 312 pages | 60 illustrations
Hardback | £25
World Rights: Reaktion

“A profusely illustrated history of the diplomatic embassy, from antiquity to today.

This compelling history traces the evolution of the embassy from its ancient origins to its enduring presence in the modern world. Beginning with the embassy’s precursors in antiquity, Outposts of Diplomacy explores its emergence on the cusp of the Italian Renaissance, its pinnacle during the nineteenth century and its navigation through the challenges of twentieth-century conference diplomacy.
G. R. Berridge investigates how this European institution adapted its staffing, architecture and communication methods to changing international landscapes, including the tumultuous wars of religion and encounters in East Asia. He also describes the expansion of the embassy’s responsibilities, such as providing diplomatic cover for intelligence operations. Infused with vibrant anecdotes of remarkable individuals and influential family dynasties, this book offers a profusely illustrated exploration of the embassy’s rich history.”

A notorious incident

This Gobelin tapestry shows the King of France, Louis XIV, accepting the apology of Spanish special envoy the Marquis de Fuentes – on behalf of his king, Philip IV – for the role of a Spanish carriage in a violent dispute over precedence with a French carriage in London on 20 September 1661. Philip also promised that, in future, precedence would be granted to France in all courts. The notorious incident in question is described in Chapter 2. See also this useful account  The tapestry is held at the Château de Versailles.