Peace of Utrecht

Linda Frey and Marsha Frey

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
Peace of Utrecht


The agreements that concluded the War of the Spanish Succession, often collectively referred to as the Peace of Utrecht, include the twenty-three treaties signed from January 1713 to February 1715 and that between Austria and Spain in 1725, prompting one contemporary to note that Utrecht “like the peace of God, [was] beyond human understanding” (Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, quoted in A. D. Machlachan, “The Road to Peace,” in Britain after the Glorious Revolution, 1689–1714, edited by Geoffrey Holmes [London: Macmillan, 1969], p. 197). Moreover, the decisive military advantage of the powers allied against Louis XIV was not reflected in the settlement, except for that with Britain. That pacification, which may be considered the last of the partition treaties, ended a war that broke out in 1702 over the question of who would succeed Charles II. Negotiations began as early as 1706 and more seriously, though no less successfully, through 1709, until the Tory victory (1710) allowed the British ministry to initiate secret negotiations with the French. The negotiations at Utrecht, for the most part, merely ratified decisions reached previously either in Paris and or in London. During these diplomatic maneuvers the British managed to secure their own interests to such a degree that the duke of Shrewsbury refused to sign. He condemned the proceedings as “bargaining for ourselves apart and leaving your friends to shift” (Linda Frey and Marsha Frey, eds., The Treaties of the War of the Spanish Succession: An Historical and Critical Dictionary [Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1995], p. 431). The conference that began in January 1712 ended fifteen months later. Issues of religion, trade, and colonies bedeviled the congress. Many delegates signed the pacification on 11–12 April 1713, but the representatives of the Holy Roman Empire and of Emperor Charles VI decided to continue the fight until 1714 (the Treaties of Rastatt [Rastadt] and Baden). Charles VI gained the Spanish Netherlands and a strong hand in Italy, including Sardinia, Naples, Milan, Mantua, and the Tuscan ports. The Holy Roman Empire fared less well; it basically retained the Ryswick settlement. Britain gained Newfoundland, Acadia, the Asiento (or Assiento), recognition of the Protestant succession, and with its acquisition of Gibraltar and Minorca, naval supremacy in the western Mediterranean. The Netherlands acquired a barrier (ultimately ineffective), and Savoy gained a more defensible, although not a more extended, Alpine barrier. Portugal had to be content with an antebellum frontier but did acquire Sacramento in the New World. Prussia gained recognition of the kingship and some minor territories. France kept the entire left bank of the Rhine but ceded all lands on the right bank except Landau. Louis XIV retained Cape Breton, what became Prince Edward Island, and the fishing rights in Newfoundland. Louis XIV’s grandson, Philip V, kept Spain and Spanish America but had to renounce his right of succession to the French throne. Louis XIV abandoned his Italian allies, but he continued to support the Wittelsbach electors of Bavaria and Cologne, who were restored. The British abandoned the Catalans, who lost their historic liberties. Except in Italy and North America, the frontiers remained remarkably durable.

Article.  18580 words. 

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