Friendship among nations

History of a concept

By Evgeny Roshchin

Friendship among nations


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1644-4
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: November 2017
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Civilization, International Relations, International relations, HISTORY / Ancient / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, HISTORY / Europe / General, History: Earliest Times To Present Day, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Ancient History: To C 500 CE, Humanities / European history, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Society & social sciences / Sociology & anthropology, Sociology: Family & Relationships, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, PSYCHOLOGY / Interpersonal Relations, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy, Society & social sciences / Geopolitics, Society & social sciences / Diplomacy, Society & social sciences / International relations


This is the first book-length study of the role that friendship plays in diplomacy and international politics. Through an examination of a vast amount of sources ranging from diplomatic letters and bilateral treaties, to poems and philosophical treatises, it analyses how friendship has been talked about and practised in pre-modern political orders and modern systems of international relations. The study highlights how instrumental friendship was for describing and legitimising a range of political and legal engagements with foreign countries and nations. It emphasizes contractual and political aspects in diplomatic friendship based on the idea of utility. It is these functions of the concept that help the world stick together when collective institutions are either embryonic or no more.


'This genealogical investigation into the history of friendship has offered a number of critical insights into the constructivist understanding of knowledge, international society, rules and law.' So says Evgeny Roshchin about his own book. He's right, but too modest. This investigation is more thorough and far more original than anything else ever written about friendship in diplomacy or, for that matter, in public life.'
Nick Onuf, Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Florida International University

'Modern scholars of international relations are likely to understand friendship in ethical terms, thereby often downplaying its relevance to international politics. But as Roshchin shows in admirable detail, all the way from the ancients to the early modern period, there was a rich tradition of understanding friendship between states in political terms. With the coming of the modern age, such pragmatic and contractual conceptions of friendship were gradually lost, with profound consequences for international politics and diplomatic practice. This book reconstructs the fascinating history of a neglected concept, and should be read by anyone interested in the history of international thought.'
Jens Bartelson, Professor of Political Science at Lund University

'Friendship Among Nations presents us with richly detailed, closely argued history of the concept from antiquity to the emergence of the modern era. Evgeny Roshchin carefully reconstructs a "political contractual" conception of friendship - one predicated on utility - from a variety of classical and medieval sources, and documents its widespread deployment in diplomatic, legal and imperial contexts from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. He makes a convincing case that a genealogy of this alternative conception of friendship is germane to contemporary debates among International Relations scholars and intellectual historians alike.'
Martin J. Burke, The City University of New York and Executive Co-editor The Journal of the History of Ideas

'A must read for anyone interested in the study of friendship in politics and international relations.'
Lisa Gibson, AMITY: The Journal of Friendship Studies, 2018


Evgeny Roshchin is Dean at the Department of Comparative Political Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), St Petersburg


1. The ambivalence of ancient friendship
2. Early modern friendship - politics and law
3. The ethics of friendship in early European diplomacy
4. Turning friendship into a moral prescription: conceptual change in modernity
5. The unknown friendship of modern international orders

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