Treaty: what it is, definition, characteristics, types of treaties and more


What is the treatise subgenre?

It is a didactic subgenre of literature that is characterized by exposing in a detailed and objective way an idea or several ideas about a specific topic, whether it is about politics, philosophy, science, biology, mathematics, etc. In this way, it has a defined structure consisting of different sections or divisions that allow it to expose several developed ideas to a specific audience.

On the other hand, it is considered a subgenre of speculative character, although it contains elements such as logic and objectivity, structuring abstract ideas organized from a specific discipline for which it wishes to transmit a proposal based on evidence and conclusions reached. Thus, it uses both oratory resources and scientific methods.

Meaning of the subgenre treatise 

The term -treaty-, comes from the Latin -tractatus-, which refers to the completion or closing of a negotiation, after having gone through a stage of debate and subsequently reaching an agreement between the parties. Thus, the treaty is a type of text used to record a series of ideas on a particular subject.

Definition of treaty of the subgenre treaty 

The treatise is a document today, which brings together a series of data or ideas under a formal and discursive language addressed to a specific type of audience. Today this type of document is mainly used in areas such as economics, politics, among others, since it involves two or more states or countries.

Definition of treaty of the subgenre treaty 

What is the function of a treatise?

First of all, the main intention of the treatise is to make information or an idea known, so that its initial function is to provide information on a given subject. This function includes the intention to make known, also, the part opposite to it.

History and origin of the subgenre treated 

It is considered that a subgenre such as the treatise had its beginnings with Aristotle, who started with a series of texts that exposed a certain information in an organized way, so that its origin is assumed to be in Greece. Aristotle put together a large number of treatises that in principle were aimed at specific fields such as philosophy, natural sciences, logic and zoology. He made this series of treatises because, according to him, he trusted more in the written word than in the usual and dispersed dialogue of the spoken word, so that by passing these records and data to writing, he facilitated that later they could be disseminated more efficiently from copies in courses of the Academy, a decisive process for many fields of humanity.

By the Middle Ages, the texts developed by Aristotle would be imitated by St. Thomas Aquinas, who dedicated himself to the production of a work in which he included the theological knowledge of his time called “Summa Theologica”, although he also wrote some other texts of the same structure. With the passage of time the treatise begins to consolidate as a compendium of ideas that takes the critical sense when it reaches the Renaissance.

Subsequently, the presence of other subgenres of which we have already spoken in other sections, such as the dialogue, the epistle and the essay, could be recognized in this type of text.

Characteristics of the treatise subgenre 

Among the most important characteristics of this subgenre, we find the following:

Discursive modality: one of the most important characteristics of this type of text within the literary world and, in particular, of the didactic genre, is that it adopts the discursive modality that is also part of the expository discourse, so that it builds a text with these particularities to address a specialized audience.

Language: the way in which the treatise is written mixes objectivity with cultured language, but also the precision and clarity of each of the words used for the expression of ideas. In addition to this, it includes various precisions among which we find specific data, definitions, dates, among others.

Structure of the treatise subgenre 

The treatise must be written in prose, so its length can vary considerably. It is written in the third person and although it is addressed to a specific type of audience, it does not explicitly mention a receiver or issuer to whom the content of the treatise is focused. The treatise contains precise data including magnitudes, dates, definitions or other types of data that can be added as footnotes to avoid hindering the course of the reading.

In this way, the treatise has an objective tinge written with a formal and cultured language that frequently uses technical and sometimes generalizing terms that allow it to shape an impersonal argumentation that is based on demonstrations and logical criteria.

Types of the treatise subgenre 

Treatises can be defined on the basis of the focus or type of content they contain, so we can classify them as follows:

Trade Agreement

Also known as a trade treaty, this is a type of agreement established by two or more nations with the intention of improving and maintaining their trade relations, so that they can continue to benefit from commercial exchanges and generally strengthen economic relations.

Treaty of law

They are a type of agreement that applies to subjects of law that has legal effects from the judicial rules that operate within the country in which it is located.

According to the above, treaties can also be national law or contract treaties, which can generate obligations and responsibilities that fall on the countries that have signed the document. These will also have specifications, such as the time of duration, the type of participation, whether it will be open or closed, the number of participants and the way in which they are closed. Regarding this last aspect about how they are closed, there are two ways:


In this case, the treaty can only be closed with prior approval by the head of state and parliament.


In opposition, this form of closing does not exactly require ratification, but can be closed on the basis of a signature by the participants.

Example of the subgenre treaty 

Example of the subgenre treaty 

Treaties are still frequently used today, as for example one of the most important treaties after the end of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, a document signed around 1919.

The following is an excerpt from one of the most important works and representatives of this subgenre, called “Summa Theologica” and written by St. Thomas Aquinas:

“Now it is evident that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church as an infallible rule lends his assent to whatever the Church teaches. Otherwise, if of the things taught by the Church he admits those he wants and excludes those he does not want, he does not assent to the teaching of the Church as an infallible rule, but to his own will. Thus, it is quite evident that the heretic who stubbornly rejects a single article is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in its entirety (he would, in fact, be in error and would not be a heretic if he does not reject it stubbornly). It is, therefore, evident that the heretic who denies a single article has no faith in regard to the others, but only opinion, which depends on his own will…”

To learn more about other didactic sub-genres of literature, as well as other genres, do not forget to visit our section dedicated to this type of art, where you will find much more information.