Torbjørn L. Knutsen
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Gods, sinners and preludes of International Relations theory
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Where should we look to find the first forays of International Relations (IR) theory? The turbulent era that followed the collapse of Rome is a good place to begin. This chapter shows how authors of these ‘Dark Ages’ touched several of the broader issues of international affairs. First among these were questions concerning the causes of war, the nature of diplomacy and the preconditions for peace. The chapter notes that early discussions on these themes took place within three distinct civilizations: in Byzantium, the Islamic world and in the unruly region of the north-Atlantic rim. This latter region – the ‘Far West’ – was at first inferior to the other two civilizations. Yet, it was here that systematic discussions of international relations first evolved. These discussions were affected by the feudal nature of Western society. They were also steeped in the Christian religion – as is evident in the writings of Capella and Augustine. However, over time there emerged theories that were also influenced by texts from pre-Christian Greece and from imperial Rome. This is indicated by the writings of St. Thomas, Pierre Dubois, Marsiglio of Padua, and others.

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