Making of Europe

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Fresco by Spinello Aretino, depicting Pope Alexander III receiving an Ambassador, Palazzo Pubblico di Siena

Making of Europe

The Project

‘Making of Europe’ Project aims at promoting the collaborative research of an international scholarly network through the sharing and discussion of working research papers and the organisation of three webinars. The network’s research will focus on mutual influences in the formation of states in fourteenth-century Europe and diplomatic contacts among polities. It will look at how they contributed to the creation of a “shared language of diplomacy” and European identities. Whether diplomacy and communication among polities grew owing to independent developments or mutual influences deserves to be further investigated in Late Medieval Europe.

The methodology

The project sets out to adopt a comparative methodology and chronological breadth, encompassing a broad range of case studies between 1250 and 1450. We will investigate a comprehensive sample of case studies of diplomatic relations across Late Medieval Europe, with a particular focus on researching primary sources and records from different backgrounds. In line with recent scholarly attempts at widening the meaning of diplomacy, the project will encompass cultural and intellectual transfers within the diplomatic milieu, alongside the more traditional study of diplomacy seen as the management of foreign and political affairs.

Research areas

The project will investigate seven research areas:

  1. diplomacy and the management of political affairs
  2. shared administrative practices among polities
  3. Late Medieval diplomacy and its records
  4. modalities of communication (the use of vernacular languages and Latin in late Medieval diplomacy)
  5. the formation of international law
  6. diplomatic representatives (envoys, merchants and travellers)
  7. cultural diplomacy” and ceremonial practices


This broad and ambitious project will make a substantial contribution to the examination of the management of late medieval diplomacy and international affairs. It will also contribute to the debate on the making of Late Medieval Europe, questioning whether European identities emerged alongside the formation of nation states between 1250 and 1450 thanks, to the practice of diplomacy, especially, but not exclusively, at the time of the Hundred Years’ War, which had a notable international dimension from its outset.

The project will have three specific objectives.

1. International Network

We aim to establish an internationational network of European and UK based scholars. This collaboration is vital to approach the research topic from a comparative perspective. This collaboration will result in the organization of three online webinars, in order to foster in-depth and informed discussions. The webinar format will secure the fulfilment of the project objectives despite unforeseen impediments that may occur in the next 12-18 months because of the current global pandemic.

Because of its focus on Late Medieval diplomatic records and primary sources, the second webinar will host presentations by members of The National Archives team, concerning the preservation of Late Medieval English diplomatic sources and will open up the possibility of discussion on the preservation of comparable sources in other national repositories outside the UK.

2. Future Collaborations

This scholarly research network and its findings will lay the foundations for a future funded collaboration between the University of Kent, The National Archives in London and other continental archives and museums preserving diplomatic sources.

The collaboration between Kent and archival institutions will address two main issues.

Firstly, a future digitization and edition of English diplomatic records

Secondly, matching the English documentation with contemporary diplomatic documents preserved at local and national archives, where relevant material is preserved. The latter will help to reconstruct medieval diplomatic dossiers now scattered between different national archives and will broaden our understanding of medieval diplomatic discourse in its complexity within an European milieu

3. Outcomes  

The outcome of the three webinars will be the publication of a volume of proceedings on Late Medieval diplomatic practices across Europe (c. 1250-1450). The project will also have a strong online presence, where abstracts of the presentations given at the workshops and news will be posted, alongside a collection of useful on-line links and resources, in addition to a series of blogs.