THE RENAISSANCE ENVIRONMENT
DIPLOMACY in the modern style, permanent diplomacy, was one of the creations of the Italian Renaissance. It began in the same period that saw the beginnings of the new Italian style of classical scholarship and in the same areas, Tuscany and the valley of the Po. Its earliest flowering came in the same decade in which Massacio announced a new art of painting on the walls of the Brancacci Chapel and Brunelleschi began the first Italian Renaissance building in the cloister of Santa Croce. Its full triumph coincided with the full triumph of the new humanism and of the new arts, and under the same patrons, Cosimo de'Medici, Francesco Sforza and Pope Nicholas V. Thereafter, like other creations of the Italian Renaissance, the new diplomacy flourished in Italy for forty years before it was transplanted north of the Alps, and acclimatized in one country after another of Western Europe.
The new diplomacy was the functional expression of a new kind of state. It is simple and easy to say that this new kind of state, 'the state as a work of art', was in turn a primary expression of the creative spirit of the Renaissance. That classic generalization has supplied the foundation for most of what has been written in the last century about Renaissance diplomacy.1 It does make easy a vivid distinction between the newer style of diplomacy and the older; otherwise it is not very useful. What we see when we look at Italy between 1300 and 1450 is the rise of a number of new institutions and modes of behaviour, among them a new style of diplomacy, all leading to something like a new concept of the state. To label this bundle of ways of acting and thinking and feeling 'the Renaissance State' is unobjectionable. To treat the label as if it were an entity, and say that it was generated by another entity, the spirit of the Renaissance, is explanation only in terms of mythology. It might make better sense to say that the spirit of the Renaissance (whatever that might be) had, among its causes, the evolution of the new state. In this gradual evolution, separate institutional adaptations to changes in