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European Peace Treaties of the Pre-Modern Era Online

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On www.ieg-friedensvertraege.de, the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) has published 1,800 bilateral and multilateral peace treaties from the period between 1450 and 1789. Between 2005 and 2010, the peace treaties were researched, digitized and published in open access form at the IEG through a project funded by the German Research Foundation.

Peace treaties between dynasties and polities are an important cultural inheritance, and they are a vital source for research on the maintenance of peace and the theory and practice of peace treaties in the pre-modern era. Of necessity, historical research dealing with war and peace has until recently relied on collections of treaties published in the 18th century (Dumont, Martens) or on later publications from the 20th century, which are neither complete nor meet historical-critical standards (Parry, Grewe). These contain several errors which can only be identified by comparing the printed versions with the "originals". There was also a lack of synopses or commentaries which would have made working with these sources easier. It was often even difficult to ascertain in which language the "original versions" of the peace treaties were produced because the newer and older collections mentioned above in many cases contain translated versions of some or all of the treaties.

www.ieg-friedensvertraege.de brings together a cultural inheritance which is held in archives scattered throughout Europe, which is difficult to access and which in some cases had not been previously documented. The treaties published here are mainly negotiators' copies, but there are also – orientated towards how the texts have survived – ratifications and transcriptions. In some cases, the official documents are supplemented by printed material. This combination of digital images and textual-critical editions provides for the first time a reliable basis for research in this area.

In accordance with Hermann Weber's definition, a peace treaty is defined as any treaty which is connected with the end of a war (broadly speaking, including truces and armistices), or which is intended (expressly or implicitly) to prolong, consolidate or expand a state of peace (or a synonymous concept). This definition differs from other definitions of the term in that it focuses not only on the efforts of treaty partners to achieve peace after a military confrontation, but also on efforts to maintain peace before any military engagement has occurred.