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1 - Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 August 2009

Philip de Souza
Affiliation:
University College Dublin
John France
Affiliation:
University of Wales, Swansea
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Summary

War and peace are familiar terms to historians, yet in Antiquity and the High Middle Ages they conveyed a variety of meanings. The ten new essays in this book examine the processes of the making and breaking of peace treaties and truces, challenging many traditional assumptions. They discuss how far political conventions and legalities mattered in agreements that were based not so much on trust as on recognition of the practical limits of military and political power, and they show how conventions and solemn agreements were frequently reinterpreted and manipulated for political ends. We begin with four chapters that span a period of a thousand years from Classical Greece to Imperial Rome.

In the first of these chapters, P. J. Rhodes analyses a series of important peace treaties from the Greek world of the fifth and fourth centuries bc, examining how far the specific terms of an agreement really mattered to the different parties, and what it took to break a treaty. He does not feel that the Classical Greek states were consciously deceitful in their dealings with each other, but argues that during the fourth century bc they tended to insert ambiguous clauses into their treaties, which they would be able to interpret to their own advantage.

Eduard Rung's chapter considers how international relations were conducted between the Greek states and their powerful eastern neighbour, the Achaemenid Persian Empire.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

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