he Congress of Cambrai (1722-1725) is generally seen as a transitory 18th century diplomatic gathering. However, the analysis of negotiation processes, rather than outcomes, leads us to correct an image of factual failure. Diplomatic legal discourse was crucial. Three years of political bickering following the accession of Spain to the Treaty of the Quadruple Alliance gave French and British mediators the occasion to take the lead in legal talks between irreconcilable opponents Philip V of Spain and emperor Charles VI. Plenipotentiaries used treaty law to show the limits of feudal or dynastic discourse. They distinguished between their qualities of garants, mediators or contracting parties, and managed to inverse collective dynamics, claiming the right of initiative. Although the Congress already split up in May 1725, detailed and lively diplomatic dispatches show the inner workings of the 18th century European international system and its catch-all concepts of balance of power and infant norm hierarchy.
Translated title of the contributionPractical Legal Culture at the Cambrai Conference (1722-1725)
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)271-292
Number of pages21
JournalRevue d'Histoire Diplomatique
VolumeCXXVII
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • diplomatic history, legal culture, legal history, history of international law, early modern history, 18th century, european history, french history, british history

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