Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Helmets, Bees, Phallus, Don Henley...

These are not the only examples of helmets being used as symbols in Goetz's medals or the most striking. For instance, the most arresting design includes an assault helmet atop an erect penis to which a German maiden, Lorelei is chained, a bastard child and a broken lyre at her feet. But they are the images that reminded me the most of this image taken from Andrea Alciato's book of emblems published in  Augsburg in 1531.

This woodcut illustrated the proverb Ex bello pax or Out of war comes Peace. The explanation of this suggested it be read in this way: "See here a helmet which a fearless soldier previously wore and which was often spattered with enemy blood. After peace was won, it retired to be used as a narrow hive for bees; it holds honey-combs and nice honey. - Let weapons lie far off; let it be right to embark on war only when you cannot in any other way enjoy the art of peace." Of course, a complete reversal of the sentiments of the twentieth century German examples above.

This sentiment seems to have originated with Alciato's emblem but it does recall many earlier precedents. One from the Bible that has turned up everywhere from Virgil (Georgics Book I) to Michael Jackson (Heal the World) is the idea of military weapons being turned to different purposes in Isaiah 2:4 or Micah 4:3 - "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."Similarly, it runs through classical literature with the spider being the most common occupant of old armour or weapons. 'In iron-bound shields are the looms of busy spiders' is a phrase of Bacchylides quoted by Plutarch (Numa 20); Euripides has a spear covered in cobwebs in Erectheus V. It's also found in Sophocles, Theocritus and, as mentioned in Roman literature in Virgil as well as Ovid (Fasti I.) Here, it is interesting to note a difference betwen Greek and Roman imagery, as suggested by James Hutton, that the Greek tradition uses the spider, whereas the Roman tradition uses the idea of ploughshares, and that these are combined only in the renaissance (Themes of Peace in Renaissance Poetry, 283.)

Slightly off-track: here's the image of Lorelei chained to the phallus:

I'm not just including this because I may have no opportunity to do so in the future, but also to illustrate certain a point. The image at first seemed to me to be quite ridiculous but the underlying sentiment is really quite disturbing. Goetz was commenting upon the use of black colonial French troops in the Rhineland and their alleged rape of German women. Why I'm including it here is that it occurred to me that some elements of the symbolism in this piece are also drawn straight from the renaissance emblem book. Here's Alciato once more, this time on discord.

This was used as an allegory for the peace of Italy in the 1531 edition. In subsequent ones it was titled Foedera, meaning a contract, agreement or treaty. The one broken string suggested, said Alciato's commentary, that "It is difficult, except for a man of skill, to tune so many strings, and if one string is out of tune or broken, which so easily happens, all the music of the instrument is lost and its lovely song disjointed. In like manner the leaders of Italy are now forming alliances.There is nothing for you to fear if affection lasts for you and stays in concord. But if any one should slide away, which we often see, that harmony is all dissolved into nothing." While we're on the subject, this sentiment has also recently topped the UK charts in a song by James Morrison featuring Nelly Furtado titled Broken Strings. When I first heard it I thought it was interesting that this imagery that I'd been reading about was still cropping up in pop music four centuries later, especially music with lines that have an audible clunk to them such as  When I love you,/ It's so untrue...

I'm not going to include a link to that because it drives me nuts enough as it is, as it seems to get played almost every time I step into a public space. It's easy enough to track down if you feel like subjecting yourself to it. Why Don Henley in the title of this post? Well, if anyone's interested in a slice of musical masochism, here is a link to the song about Ronald Reagan by Bruce Hornsby,  The End of Innocence, which Henley recorded in 1989.  There's a fair few of the standard images/ tropes of the eighties music video used here: a couple rolling around in grassy fields; saxophone solo; nostalgia for the fifties; Henley doing what musicians seemed to do in clips all the time thirty years ago, namely standing in a field wearing a trench coat. But when he sings  "they're beating ploughshares into swords, for the tired old man who we elected king"  it reminds me - as it did when I saw Goetz's medals -  that certain symbols seem to persist in many different contexts, that they can be deployed to say radically different things and that once you're aware of them  you find them in very odd places.

Once again, you can find a catalogue of Goetz's work here and can explore Glasgow University's excellent digital version of Alciato's Emblematum liber with a click here or the other excellent site here at MUN in which many editions are cross-referenced here.

Smite Him Dead! The Day of Justice Will not Ask your Reasons!

Another beautiful representation of a treaty, this time on a bronze medal struck in Germany in 1915 designed by Karl Goetz from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. It's an allegorical depiction of the Pact of London of 1915, in which Italy left the Triple Alliance (with Germany and Austro-Hungary being the other members) and joined the Triple Entente (France, Russia and Britain.)

It depicts a chimera-like creature, with several heads representing the allies of the Triple Entente: a cockerel and a bear representing France and Russia, two lions representing Britain and Belgium, a dragon representing Japan and the snake for Serbia. Italy is represented by the small boy suckling at its teats below. The legend reads PACT OF MALICE. 

The obverse shows god in judgement, surveying flames on earth below. The inscription is a quotation from the German writer Heinrich von Kleist's Germania an ihre Kinder: "Strike him dead! The Day of Judgement will not ask your reasons!"

See it at the V&A site here. There's a link to a site that catalogues the work of Goetz above, which is really worth a look as this medal is only one of several connected to particular treaties or truces. You can read von Kleist's poem here. Brace yourself, it's hardly a barrel of laughs. As you'd expect, really, from a German writing in 1811 at the height of the Napoleonic Wars who shot himself later that year...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Treaty of Madrid 1526

Another beautiful visual depiction of an early modern peace treaty this time to illustrate for  the Treaty of Madrid in 1526. This treaty was coerced from Francis I during his "Spanish Captivity" after he was taken prisoner at the Battle of PAvia in 1525. Immediately upon his release he renounced its terms - as he had done in private to his own councillors before swearing to its terms.

The cover depicts the imperial and French arms (above); the second page shows a stylised meeting of the two sovereigns. One interpretation that comes to mind immediately could be that it shows the emperor on the left, offering his hand to Francis, who simply looks at it, unwilling to be reconciled. I'll have to think on the matter more. It could be, after all, a woodcut the printer had that seemed appropriate to be reused to illustrate the text of the treaty.

Follow this link for full access to this pamphlet at the Bayerische StaatsBibliothek.


Doing some research the other day on F.W. Norwood I came across this article from the New York Times of October 1922. I've cut out a few paragraphs about Jefferson's opinion of the church in England, so if that interests you here's a link. What I find interesting about this article - and with the article I last published - is how similar the rhetoric is to the tradition of European peace orations that stretches back to the renaissance. Particularly surprising in this instance was the reference to "The Turk"trampling Europeans unresisted and burning Smyrna. This event ended several years of war between Greece and Turkey in September 1922, only a month before this interview was published. 

It was certainly topical, but it also drew upon much older ideas. For instance, I'm reading a few orations from the mid-sixteenth century by French humanists who refer to very similar issues in reference to the east, the need for Christians to behave in a way that their faith suggests and the benefits or limits of pacifism. I'll put those texts and my conclusions up here when I'm done. 

Apart from that, I think it's a interesting period piece about American perceptions of inter-war BritainA brief biography on Jefferson can be found here, and here's a link to Jefferson's original sermons on peace

29 October 1922.

THE Rev. Dr. Charles E. Jefferson is attracting congregations on Sunday evening to the Broadway Tabernacle, Fifty-sixth Street and Broadway, with stories of his recent visit to England in an exchange of pulpits with the Rev. Dr. F.W. Norwood of the City Temple, London, and as preacher in other leading British Free Churches.
“I went to see the things that were lovely and of good report,” he said, “and that is what I saw,” Dr. Jefferson added that he liked England because it is a land where people are well bred; he liked London because it is old and quiet; the British “bobbies” because they are policemen who never lose their tempers; the crowds because they are orderly and good natured; the quaint old-time names of the London streets – the Poultry Cheapside, Shoe Lane and Plumtree Court – the devotion and attention and punctuality of British congregations and their fervent singing, and the affection displayed by the people for their King and Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales. Altogether, he confessed that he had a visit charming in every way.
            “Great Britain and America must be friends,” said Dr. Jefferson, “Without co-operation they cannot take action or any definite policy; united they can. For example, together they could help France or Italy or Russia do the right thing. A useful work is done in that direction be the interchange of preachers, politicians, journalists, bankers and business men.”
            Dr. Jefferson saw Lloyd George at a luncheon and came to the conclusion that he possessed the four qualifications required for a war against war – knowledge, experience, conviction and religion.
            “My! the English are interested in politics!” he exclaimed, smiling at the rememberance. “They are very much alive. They have suffered by the late war and are in no mood for another. The politicians know this and will go very carefully for some time.
            “The people are more interested in the question of the church’s views about war than they are here. Ministers declare that the churches must take a stand. They are going in the direction of the extreme pacifist position, but I do not know that they would go all the way if you pinned them to a concrete case.
            “There is no common understanding among Christians as to what is the Christian attitude on war. Some think that it not the Christian thing to let the Turk trample on us and burn Smyrna. They wonder whether it is not the Christian thing to kill him. The same people who took part in the ‘No More War’ procession in London would, I imagine, adopt that view if they had to decide one way or the other.
            “The tragedy is that we Christians get together and enunciate Christian principles, but at that the same time the men who direct policy – the rulers, the politicians and journalists – are busy planning another course, and when war comes the churches are swept into it.”
            Changing the subject, Dr. Jefferson said:
“Many British homes are surrounded by gardens and the gardens by hedges. The Britisher retires to his home and his garden and builds up a hedge of reserve about himself. He is a good fellow when you get to know him, but it takes time to do that.
            “On my two previous visits to Britain I went as a tourist, and I never learned much about the true Britain. This time the hedges were down and I was admitted to intimacies hitherto unrealized. Everywhere I was received with the greatest courtesy. The first English home offered to me was an Anglican home. That pleased me very much. Attempts were made to obtain an Anglican pulpit for me in which I might preach, and I would like to have done so, but my program had been fully arranged. On epulpit was offered, but a precious engagement prevented my acceptance….
            Newpapers and newspaper men next came up for consideration.
            “I think the English newspapers are fine, and are served by able men,” he said. “The editorial pages were a delight to me. I noticed there was a much more friendly attitude to Americans than ten years ago.
            “There is much more news of Europe in American papers than of America in British papers. I wish that news about the worst side of American life was not cabled across to the extent that it is. Such news must give English men quite the wring impression of America. For the first two weeks I felt ashamed to hold my head up as an American in view of what was being recorded in the papers at the time. I do not see why the underworld of New York should be raked up. Every city has its underworld.
            “There are more murders and divorce cases in British papers than there used to be, and newspaper men themselves do not think that the papers are so good as ten years ago. Journalists can do much better to foster friendly relations between the two English-speaking countries, and the interchange of journalists is contributing toward this end.’    

Sunday, 24 October 2010

" hear of a death-ray which they have invented in France..."

This from The Guardian, 9 October 1934: 

Mr. Lloyd George, speaking to-night at the City Temple, where a large gathering welcomed Dr. F.W. Norwood home after his world tour, made a forceful plea for the Churches to unite in the cause of peace.
            Mr. Lloyd George said that he came from a country which owed more to its preachers than it did to its warriors or to its statesmen. It owed everything to them. He was told that there was now a falling-off in attendances at place of worship, but there never was a time when the great preacher did not have his audience.
            I was specially attracted to Dr. Norwood, Mr. Lloyd George continued, but the fact that no man has devoted more time and energy to the preaching of the gospel of peace.” Peace was the message for to-day, just the same as it was nearly twenty centuries ago. He referred to the recent speech in which Mussolini foreshadowed the training of Italian children from the age of seven years upwards in the use of arms. “If that policy is to be followed by every statesman in the world,” he said, “you will have a scroll on the walls of every school in the world, ‘Little children, kill one another.’“
            Nor was Italy the only country.
“You hear of a new poison gas invented in America, you hear of a death-ray which they have discovered in France, you have a conference at Bristol which passes unanimously a resolution in favour of increasing armaments. That is the world to-day. It is a jungle, and the nations are prowling through it, snarling at each other, baring their teeth at each other. At any moment a mistaken gesture or a misunderstood oration and they may spring again at each other’s throats. We want as many preachers of peace as we can collect. They are preparing guns and bombers. Let us mobilise the forces of peace.”
            In the last war the most striking thing had not been the carnage but the absolute indifference with which it was regarded, the acquiescence of the most highly civilised nations in Christendom. “It is a savage race, the race of mankind,” he said, “when it is roused.” War had to be stopped long before it began, and though, in his judgement, there was no immediate prospect of war, nevertheless there was only just enough time to stop it.
            “Who can do so? I think nobody except the Christian churches. Everybody else seems to me to be working for more armaments.” 

Frederick William Norwood was a Baptist minister originally from Melbourne. He was made the pastor of the City Temple church in London in 1919. The tour mentioned in this article took him all through the Commonwealth and America, delivering lectures on the subject of peace -  although he also gave a lecture titled A Frank Talk on Sex and the Cities, which I think had little to do with inspiring the much more recent TV series, which would no doubt have had much to say to an early twentieth-century Methodist minister...

In the year following the publication of this article, Norwood celebrated when he heard that Germany was rearming the Rhineland. This may seem odd at first,  considering his long-held and vociferous pacifist stance. However, it is understandable considering that he thought German objections to Versailles were justifiable as there could be no fair peace whilst it was shackled to unfair terms of peace. This he hoped signified the beginnings of an atmosphere in which a lasting peace could be negotiated. 

The City Temple, which was near the Holborn Viaduct, was destroyed in the Blitz in 1941. Norwood ended up accepting posts in the Baptist church in Canada and the United States.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

For Foes asleepe, (they say) the Devil Rocks...

A few pages from Henry Peacham's book of emblems Minerva Britannia published in 1612. Although this doesn't contain as man explicit references to treaties as earlier emblem books such as Alciato's Emblematta, it does have several references to peace that are quite interesting. The first one I've included, Sic bellica virtus,  expounds on martial virtue, the essence of which is being prepared even at times of peace. Seeing as the book was dedicated to Henry, Prince of Wales, who disagreed with his father on military matters, it seems appropriate that it speaks of those 'Who not of Fathers Actes ambitious are, But of the brave Atchivements of their owne...'

Henry was depicted as a martial prince elsewhere in the volume, in full armour mounted upon a horse. The legend beneath threatened, as did his father's work the Basilikon Doron had earlier, 'That whether Turke, Spaine, France, Or Italie,/ The Red-Shanke, or the Irish Rebell bold,/ Shall rouze thee up, thy Trophees may be more,/ Than all the Henries Ever Liv'd before.' Of course, he was to die before taking the throne, leaving his brother Charles to inherit his titles.

Prince Charles was depicted by Peacham as in the mould of his father, a peacemaker. This is how Peacham depicted the king, with the motto Sic pacem habemus, referring to his unification of previous warring states of England and Scotland. Although he recommended that the united lions should try their might upon a shared enemy, it's notable that James I had actually brought the Anglo-Spanish War to an end in 1604.

What strikes me about this emblem, which is about how peace stems from unity, is how closely it corresponds so closely to several other emblems in the same volume. First, another dedicated explicitly to James: Ex utroque Immortalis.

The second is about the value of friendship - Vicinorum amicitia

These values are often entwined not only in emblem literature, but also in earlier forerunners to the genre like Erasmus in his Adages.  I'll certainly write more on both subjects in the future as they come up in my reading and research. 

See the site Middlebury Minerva for scans and some basic commentaries on Peacham's Minerva Britannica. It's the kind of site that there should be more of, as it was put together in 2001 by a first-year university course on emblem literature run by Professor Timothy Billings at Middlebury College, Vermont. It shows that it's possible for scholars even on the bottom rung of the academic ladder are already able to contribute to a wider corpus of scholarship, not only by making resources available, but by offering some reasonably astute commentary.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Treaty of Crépy 1544

An allegorical print of the treaty of Crépy from the collection of the British Museum. This agreement, signed on the 20th September 1544, was between the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Francis I, King of France. The treaty itself is in Dumont (IV-2, pp.279ff) and can often be found referred to as the treaty of Crépy-en-Laonnois or as Crespy. I'll try to post a link to a summary of its terms later or write one myself as I can't find one right now. For now, I'll just say that I find this interesting as, unlike several other treaties of the period, Crépy was not commemorated very much in print in France, probably because - as this suggests - its terms were incredibly divisive, particularly as it gave a right to the younger son of Francis, Charles, duc d'Orleans, to either Milan or Burgundy. His elder son, Henry (the future Henry II), repudiated it straight away. The imperial eagle grips the French cockerel in its right claw, making it vomit out several Fleur-de-Lys. Is this a reference to this division, or is it to the fortresses that the treaty tranferred to imperial control? I'm not sure on first reflection...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Shabtai Rosenne

Obituaries for Shabtai Rosenne, one of the foremost scholars of international law, whose areas of expertise were the World Court, the Law of the Sea and International Treaty Law.

An obituary from the The Guardian today, where there is also an article by Maurice Mendelson titled My Legal Hero. At the blog Peace Palace Library. Even better is the obituary on the blog of the European Journal of International Law here.

Finally, a link to his 1970 book on the Vienna Convention The Law of Treaties.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Dumont's CUD...

When I first started writing about  treaties I had a huge amount of trouble accessing many of the standard compilations that are the most useful sources for peace treaties. Only a few years later and there really are a wealth of sources on the web where full works have been digitized and are available for download in multiple formats at only the touch of a button.

Take Jean Dumont’s work Corps Universel Diplomatique du Droit des Gens, (CUD) which is pretty much the first work that gets turned to for the texts of treaties from Charlemagne to the late 17th century. When I first started needing this work I was put off looking at it on microfiche, perhaps the most awkward and least satisfying type of way to look at a historical source. Over the last few years, when I’ve really had to spend much more time with several volumes I’ve seen that look in librarians’ eyes that I read as questioning whether I really need to call up all those large volumes so often and keep them on the reserve shelves for so long.

To be honest, I’ve not felt too bad about doing this: not only did I need to do this, but they’re really the kind of work that should be on open access given that they’re the most authoritative compilation of pre-modern European treaties and are cited so often in any work you could poke a stick at by historians, political scientists and any others interested in the development of international law. Anyway, it seems as though the web has made these kind of problems a thing of the past as I’ve now got all the volumes and supplements of the CUD  sitting in a single folder. 

In some ways, it’s a shame, as I love the books themselves as objects – the smell, the feel of the rough paper, and the element of chance, of opening it up to a page at random and finding some gem I couldn’t find by design. However, these are small things in comparison to the benefits of having it scanned and digitized. Even better, it’s format-friendly. In the online viewing options as well as being available in colour or black and white PDFs, they’re also available in several e-reader friendly formats. There is also a Full Text version. Of course, these are a minefield in terms of typographical errors, which are so commonplace that they’re hardly worth using – except, perhaps, to search for certain terms to see how concepts are repeated (or not) in different periods.

So much academic work is remaining to be done in this area, not only on treaties themselves, but also on Dumont and how he fits in to the wider impulse towards compiling volumes of treaties in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. So at some stage I’ll try to put together something on those themes. Until then, there’s quite enough to be getting on in these volumes already.

Thanks to the John Adams library at the Boston Public Library for digitizing these books and making them available through the Internet Archive. You can access them here: Corps Universel Diplomatique.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

De Foederibus

This post is the beginning of a blog about peace treaties throughout history. I’ve decided to write it because for the last few years I’ve been researching diplomacy and international relations in the first half of the sixteenth century. And in looking at peace treaties in this period, I’ve also become interested in the wider subject of peace and peace treaties throughout history. I thought that a blog may be a good way I could keep track of what I come across on a day-to-week-to-month basis, whilst also putting things into the public domain in case something comes in useful to anyone else who’s interested in the subject.

Although I find the political and legal aspects of treaties interesting, I’m also interested in other facets of the whole process. For instance, the way that treaties are promoted by rulers, statesmen or governments. the way that intellectuals have commented upon them, or  the way that some artists have – occasionally used peace treaties as an inspiration. So what I’m putting up here is intended to open up areas and questions that I find interesting in a speculative way, rather than set out authoritative accounts or particular historical interpretations.

There have been several articles in the press this week about how today Germany makes the final payment on the interest from the reparations that were detailed in the Treaty of Versailles, signed on 28 June 1919, which makes that as good a place to start as any. Not only because it’s timely, but also because it gives me an easy example of the kind of approach I’m interested in, as I’m as interested in the John Cale’s 1973 song Paris 1919 or Frank Moorhouse's books about the League of Nations as I am in the articles of the treaty itself as I am in John Maynard Keynes' opinions of it.

Because of this recent news, I’ve just reread article 231 of Versailles for the first time in years, the so-called War Guilt Clause, which suggested that that Germany alone was responsible for the war. Subsequent articles outlined the cost of this guilt; 226 billion Reichsmarks – the equivalent to roughly100 tonnes of gold - were to be paid to the allies to offset the cost of the war and the damage done to European civilians. After World War Two, there was some confusion about who was liable for the debt as the Weimar Republic was long gone and Germany was divided into two states. The 1953 conference in London suspended the payment on interest, although West Germany continued paying off the reparations themselves as a debt of honour.

Today Germany pays off  £59.5 million, the last of the interest that resulted from these articles. There has been so little fanfare about this that some of the major newspapers in the UK haven’t reported it, which I find rather surprising, although the BBC article was interesting. Coming to think of it, I’m still not completely sure where this money is actually being transferred to and how it will be spent or used when it is.

Anyway, while writing this I’ve listened to John Cale’s Paris 1919. Another question that this has raised is why I was silly enough to not go and see him play the whole album live earlier this year…