This contribution reconstructs the Congress of Soissons (1728-1730), a consequence of the Parisian Preliminaries (31 May 1727), an agreement that prevented the eruption of a general war in Europe between the League of Hanover (France, Britain-Hanover, Dutch Republic) and the League of Vienna (Emperor, Spain, Brandenburg-Prussia). The ‘sleeping’ congress did not generate a final peace agreement. Soissons was a congress of peacekeeping (Burkhardt), and in part contributed to the European culture of peace engineering (Ghervas). Besides the central commercial claims that opposed the Maritime Powers to Spain, the delegations reflected on geopolitical questions from the East Indies to Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Mediterranean. They were solicited by multiple actors of the European Society of Princes (Bély), down to the level of private individuals, who hoped for diplomatic intercession. France’s position as equidistant director of various bilateral and collective talks becomes clear through the itineraries of the delegates between Soissons, Fontainebleau, Compiègne and Versailles. The sociability of the congress is not purely curial or Parisian, but also includes life on the countryside. French archives highlight the material and logistical challenges of turning a regional hub as Soissons into an international one. The Hop Archives, which contain a synthesis of the daily reports of the Dutch delegation, and the British diplomatic archives (State Papers Foreign) are complemented by the press and the letters of George Lyttelton, who spent several months in Soissons on his Grand Tour. Not only this public circulation of news on the congress, but also the material culture of the print resources consulted by the diplomats allow to identify this eighteenth-century meeting place within the broader European republic of books, news and letters.
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