Utrecht: Consensus, Balance of Power, and Legitimacy

Ian Clark

in Legitimacy in International Society

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199219193
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191717734 | DOI:
 Utrecht: Consensus, Balance of Power, and Legitimacy

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The Utrecht settlement refers to the complex of treaties, signed in the period 1713-14, which brought an end to the wars of Spanish Succession. These treaties were devoted principally to the conditions on which the members of the Grand Alliance secured future peace with Louis XIV's France, and separately, to the effective partition of the Spanish territories. This chapter explains what the settlement was about, why it has been regarded as significant by various historians and international relations scholars, and how it relates to the developing practices of legitimacy within international society. It shows how a traditionally dominant conception of rightful membership — through the principle of legitimate succession — was challenged and subordinated to international regulation, and in particular to a governing principle of the balance of power. It also explores the elaboration of various aspects of rightful conduct as manifested in the modalities of treaty-making, the articulation of a basic notion of consensus, and the self-conscious promotion of a societal norm of equilibrium. Finally, it reflects on the complex interrelationship between the extent of the consensus around the treaty and the then prevailing balance of power.

Keywords: Utrecht settlement; treaties; Spanish Succsssion; rightful membership; international society

Chapter.  7045 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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