By the beginning of the eighteenth century the framework of European diplomacy was well established. From the fifteenth century onwards, first in Italy and then in western Europe generally, states had begun to maintain representatives more or less permanently in each other's capitals. The conception of a balance of power, again originating in Italy, spread rapidly to the other states of western and central Europe. From the time of the Emperor Charles V onwards the idea, if not the phrase itself, was part of the common currency of European political life. The increasing importance of the diplomatic network which bound together the states of Europe was reflected in the eighteenth century in the development in most countries of central institutions for the direction of foreign policy. The traditions and attitudes of the seventeenth century were also continued in the importance attached, particularly in the first half of this period, to questions of diplomatic ceremonial and precedence.