The title pretty much says it all. What is the oldest treaty (of any type) still being enforced between two political entities (i.e., nation-states, cities, etc.)?

  • Maybe the Magna Carta (1215)?
    – knut
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 21:04
  • 3
    If we are talking about international treaties, the Treaty of the Pyrenees signed in 1659 by Spain and France established borders between the two kingdoms that have not changed since then. It also established a condominium for a small island on the border, the Pheasant Island, which is still in force.
    – Ginasius
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 21:20
  • 3
    God's treaty with Noah not to destroy the world completely with a flood? Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 22:00
  • Could the Pact of Omar count? Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 22:02
  • 4
    @ClintEastwood: I'm going to disqualify Noah (treaties with supernatural/omnipotent beings seem rather hard to authenticate), but Pact of Umar/Omar seems like a possibility. Wikipedia suggests that it's authenticity isn't 100% solid, but given its supposed age (between 7th - 10th century) that seems understandable. I won't promise to accept it, but please add it as an answer.
    – tonysdg
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 0:21

1 Answer 1



Both Parties Sovereign and Remain Sovereign

Anglo-Portuguese Alliance (or Aliança Luso-Britânica), ratified at the Treaty of Windsor in 1386, between England (succeeded by the United Kingdom) and Portugal is the oldest alliance in the world that is still in force – with the earliest treaty dating back to the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373.

English aid to Portugal went back much further to the 1147 Siege of Lisbon.


Sovereign Parties create a new Sovereign entity

The Federal Charter or Letter of Alliance documents the Eternal Alliance or League of the Three Forest Cantons, the union of three cantons in what is now central Switzerland. It is dated in early August 1291.

One can argue that this document is not in force today, being superseded by many other documents defining Switzerland.

Between Sovereign and his Subjects

Magna Carta Libertatum (Medieval Latin for "the Great Charter of the Liberties"), commonly called Magna Carta, is a charter agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215.

It is hard to argue that it is still in force, because

the original 1215 charter had concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of ordinary people, but the charter remained a powerful, iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Neither Party Sovereign

Paréage of Andorra was a feudal charter signed in Lleida on 8 September 1278. It codified a lay and ecclesiastical agreement between the Count of Foix, Roger-Bernard III, and the Bishop of Urgell, Pere d'Urtx, establishing their joint sovereignty over the territory of Andorra.


The decisions of ...

The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea (now Iznik, Bursa province, Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.

... are still binding on Christendom.


Between People

The Pact of Umar, is an apocryphal treaty between the Muslims and the Christians of either Syria, Mesopotamia or Jerusalem that later gained a canonical status in Islamic jurisprudence... attributed to 9th century Mujtahids ... the pact contains a list of rights and restrictions on non-Muslims (dhimmis).

I highly recommend a careful reading of the long list of the "rights and restrictions" (e.g., non-Muslims are not permitted any weapons and are required to wear a distinctive dress - cf.).

Note that the current enforcement of the treaty is limited by Edict of Gülhane and Ottoman Reform Edict of 1856.

Between People and God

Covenant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with God (~3,500 years ago). Still fully in force - see Judaism.SE.

  • and what about Paréage of Andorra 1278 ?
    – Explorer
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 8:00
  • 1
    @Explorer: as you wish, see edit.
    – sds
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 16:59
  • 1
    Great list, except for the last one. Let's be professional. The question states clearly "between two political entities". Sure the Church can act as a political entity, but certainly not any god.
    – James
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 10:38
  • 1
    @sds None of the 2 Apocryphal you list are actually Apocryphal. The correct word for the Pact of Umar is "inferred existence". It cannot be apocryphal because no text/direct source survives to be so. The Abrahamic covenent, even if considered a treaty, is also not aprocryphal, neither in the Christian/Jewish sense nor the general sense of the word.
    – James
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 16:49
  • 1
    @sds Religiosity has no place in standard, academic historical practice. As I'm aware, nowadays this is not up for debate. Would you post Alchemy formulas in chemistry Stackexchange? This downgrades history stackexachange quality.
    – James
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 16:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.