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Watts, John. The making of polities: Europe, 1300-1500


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Watts, John. The making of polities: Europe, 1300-1500.
There is no doubt that the medieval period was marred with a lot of conflicts. However,
cooperation and piece had to be reinstated through the use of different resolutions. In the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, European jurisdictions that were potentially poised for
clashes resolved their differences through two means; treaties and hegemony of power.
The first method of brokering peace between warring territories was the “negotiation
treaties, charters or other agreements between powers that essentially wished to exclude each
other, or at least determine their common boundaries” (282). The island of Sicily is an example
of a fourteenth century territory which used this approach in the 1302 Treaty of Caltabelotta.
One characteristic of formal treaties were the short spans in events that the signatories of such
treaties have more independence. Watts notes that the failure of this type of settlements was due
to the reluctance of the parties to commit. The parties are said to be “merely suspending the
pursuit of their rights which they intended to resume when the circumstances changed” (Watts
Other than treaties, resolutions were made in the form of recognition of the “hegemony of
one power over another” in return for compromise (Watts 283). One flaw of this type of
settlement revolved around the fact that the parties tend to reshape the agreement as their status

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changes. It is usually threatened if the subordinates in the settlement are autonomous. This
approach to solution of potential conflict between jurisdictions only saw more ‘regnal polites’
acquire substantial hegemony by the turn on the sixteenth century.
Other than the Treaty of Caltabelotta, medieval territories and jurisdictions used treaties
such as the 1360 Treaty of Bretigny-Calais, the 1937 Union of Kalmar, and the 1374 statute of
Koszyce. These treaties form great examples of this resolution mode as they exhibited all the
differing characteristics of a treaty.
Treaty of Bretigny-Calais is perhaps the best example of how treaties can be used to solve
conflict between states. At the height of their majestic powers, England and France were greatly
dominant in the European religion, governance and finance. Their powers and influence created a
strong rivalry that was common for all great empires. King John II of France and King Edward
III of England were the parties responsible for the signing of the treaty on 25May 1360. With its
signing, the first phase of the Hundred’s Years War was ended. The genesis of the treaty,
however, can be traced to 1356 when France started to loosen its grip and influence over its
In the 1356 Battle of Pointers, the King John II of France was captured by the English.
The imprisonment of its King and the conflicts in Paris considerably weakened the hand of the
French influence in Europe. This situation forced their hand to enter resolution to end its war
with England. With the English harboring reservation about the ability of the French to honor the
treaty after their 1359 Treaty of London, the negotiations dragged on for longer than anticipated.

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After the signing of the treaty, King John II was released and the terms of the resolution
The terms of the treaty included cession of certain territories by both parties. While
England agreed to give up the suzerainty of Flanders and Brittany, the French gave up the
suzerainty of all the islands they held. However, the resolution that was seen to end the war was
the agreement by King of England to give up claim to the French throne and the proposed
solutions to the feudal issues. While the French thought that the King of England’s claim to the
throne was the main reason behind the conflict, the English were strongly convinced that the war
was a consequence of the feudal responsibilities. A solution to both issues should have
effectively ended the war.
The aftermath of the Treaty of Bretigny-Calais was a short period of peace followed by
the usual warring between the two states. In 1369, the infamous French-English war broke once
more. The reason why war was declared for the first time after the Treaty of Bretigny-Calais was
the failure of Edward to observe the terms laid out in the resolution. Once more, the weakness of
this system was exposed. Once more, short-run respite prevailed over lasting peace.
The Treaty of Caltabelotta was signed to ensure that the uneasy status quo between Sicily
and the Kingdom of Trinacria was formally recognized. The treaty was used by signatories,
Fredrick II and Charles II, to separate the two territories that wished to operate in exclusion of
each other. The treaty had more to it than the separation of Trinacria from Sicily. It was also
stipulated in the treaty that Angevins would take over the realms of powers in Trinacria in the
event of Fredrick’s demise. The other details of treaty included details on the invasion of Cyprus,

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Awesome! Perfect study aid.