Role of an Embassy
History and Role of an Embassy
Ever since there have been states, there have been ambassadors. Greek cities exchanged "orators". Rome used to send legates. However, these missions were send according to circumstances and for a limited period. The Byzantine Empire was the first with the pattern of diplomatic organisation. In the 15th century, the weak and divided Italian states were the first to establish permanent representatives to the major powers. François I followed this example: he sent a delegate to the Swiss in 1522 and subsequently to London, Venice etc. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna adopted a charter for diplomatic relations, which was hardly changed before the 1961 convention - also in Vienna. France then maintained around one hundred missions, 32 of which had been opened since 1945. The distinction between embassies and legations (with small countries) disappeared in consideration of the sovereign equality of states. There is no longer an official hierarchy in the posts, however, inequality subsists de facto. A particular embassy that was historically prestigious may no longer be of great importance. Another recently set up may be more highly considered.