ON THE ROAD TO SAMARKAND
CLAVIJO´S EMBASSY TO TAMERLANE
Luis Francisco Martínez Montes
Registan Square in Samarkand.
In his classic study of Western diplomacy in the Renaissance, the American historian Garret Mattingly describes the Spanish diplomatic service in the XVI and early XVII centuries “as the most impressive in Europe”. The rise to prominence which accompanied the discovery of America in 1492 and the growing influence of the Spanish Monarchy over much of the European continent explained the necessity of creating and maintaining a large and efficient network of resident ambassadors. However, that flourishing of diplomatic prowess at the beginning of the Modern Era did not emerge from a vacuum. For more than eight centuries, since the Arab invasion in 711 A.C., Christian and Islamic kingdoms had alternatively coexisted and fought on the Iberian Peninsula.
As it was later the case in a divided Italian polity, Spain’s fragmented political landscape had made it essential the development of customs, norms and institutions aimed at permitting a regular dialogue between conflicting cultural and political units.
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