By Andreas Osiander; Abstract: The th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia in was largely ignored by the discipline of international. See: Andreas Osiander, “Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth,” International Organization 55,2 () (Gated PDF);. Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth. Type: Article; Author(s): Andreas Osiander; Date: ; Volume: 55; Issue: 2; Page start:

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I suggest that the historical phenomena I analyze in this article—the Thirty Years’ War adreas the peace treaties as well as the post— Holy Roman Empire and the European system in which it was embedded—may help us to gain a better understanding of contemporary international politics. Over the last two decades, the communis opinio among scholars has fallen under attack.

Neither will he or she find that the Westphalian Peace Treaties were universal peace treaties, to which most of the powers of Europe supposedly acceded; nor will he or she be able to pinpoint a reference to the balance of power, as so many scholars have claimed. It was the order of the territorial dynastic state — which Bobbitt referred to as the kingly state — and the public law of Europe, which in turn was to be transformed by the French Revolution into that of the nation-state.

Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles. Search for items with the same title. It is held that the treaties which put an end to the Thirty Years War — terminated the last great religious war in Europe and sounded the death knell for the universal authority of the pope and the emperor.

EconPapers: Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth

He or she will not find any mention of state sovereignty or religious neutrality as principles sovereigny international organisation in the texts, nor in the surrounding diplomatic documents. Benno Teschke, The Myth of After more than a century of unrest and instability which had impeded the formation of a new consent about the international order of Europe, Westphalia helped to create the conditions of internal stability which in the following decades allowed for the articulation of a new common order of Europe.

As the modern state system was one in which, absent any supranational authority, states were left to their own devices to organise and regulate their mutual relations, horizontal agreements through treaty played a central role in the articulation of international order re,ations treaties became its primary source. At the same time, they fell within the middle of a period of civil unrest and war in many European countries —which in the case of some of the major powers ended with the victory rlations the forces of centralisation over local and myyh autonomy.


Thus the princes and republics of Europe achieved their full sovereignty and a new international political and legal order which was soveeeignty on the principles of state sovereignty and religious neutrality emerged see, e. Series data maintained by Keith Waters. This debate necessitates, or at least implies, historical comparisons. Here is how to contribute. All this does not suffice to dismiss westpphalian insignificant in the long-term history of the political and legal order of Europe.

To Parry, as to many of his predecessors, was the natural point of departure for modern treaties. I contend that IR, unwittingly, in fact judges current trends against the backdrop of a past that is largely imaginary, a product of the gelations and twentieth-century fixation on the concept of sovereignty.

The underlying claim is that the treaties inaugurated or even created a new international order based on the sovereign state. Westphalia is indeed a myth, and one which has particularly little basis in historical reality as far as the Peace of Westphalia is concerned.

Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth

This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: A historical study of treaty practice should thus move beyond Westphalia and look for the origins of modern treaty-making in the Middle Ages and the anrreas century Lesaffer ; Benham I discuss how what I call the ideology of sovereignty has hampered the development of IR theory. This new order thus only materialised after Westphalia rather than at Westphalia. The th anniversary westphalisn the Peace of Westphalia in was largely ignored by the discipline of international relations IRdespite the fact that it regards that event as the beginning of the international system with which it has traditionally dealt.

No peace embodies this order more than the Peace Treaties of Utrecht [e.

By this, the date ad quem, of his work was made self-explanatory. Westphalia, together with some other osjander, marked the end of a period of turmoil that had started with the Reformation in the second quarter of the internationql century and which had destroyed the medieval order of Europe. The midth century certainly was a period of transition between political orders and Westphalia is as good an event to symbolise this as any other. In fact, these reminiscences were nothing but the confirmation, or at best adaptation, of old pre-Westphalian rights and went a long way to sustain the medieval, feudal, hierarchical structure that was the Holy Roman Empire.


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According to those scholars, the idea of Westphalia is a case of ahistorical myth-making to provide the state system with a clear starting point Osiander ; Teschke Recommend to Your Librarian.

War, Peace, and the Course of History London: A number of scholars have stated that the new order which Westphalia inaugurated had little to do with that of the sovereign state system, which only emerged in the 19th century. But the criticism can even reach further, to the outright negation that Westphalia created anything like a new order at all. Modern scholars have considered the involvement of the princes and estates of the Empire in an international peace treaty and the explicit confirmation of their right to make treaties to mark the final rejection of the universal authority of the emperor and the recognition of state sovereignty.

In the Preface to volume 1 of The Consolidated Treaty SeriesClive Parry explained that his collection purported to make the historical treaties antedating the League of Nations Treaty Series available to the modern reader. The clauses into which later scholars have read references to state sovereignty or religious equality all pertain to the latter dimension of the treaties and hold no reflection on the international order of Europe or the law of nations. Much of the confusion comes from the hybrid character of the two peace instruments, which has often been overlooked or misunderstood.