Peace of Utrecht - History

Peace of Utrecht - History

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The War of Spanish Succession came to an end with the Peace of Utrecht. Under its terms Philip V from the Bourbon House of France was officially recognized as the King of Spain. Spain and France were however, forbidden to merge. France recognized Protestant succession in England, pledging not to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. The Spanish Netherlands became a possession of the Hapsburgs, while England received Gibraltar. Portuguese possessions in the New World were recognized.


Utrecht ( / ˈ j uː t r ɛ k t / YOO -trekt, [6] [7] Dutch: [ˈytrɛxt] ( listen ) ) is the fourth-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands, capital and most populous city of the province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, in the very centre of mainland Netherlands it had a population of 357,179 as of 2019. [8]

Utrecht's ancient city centre features many buildings and structures, several dating as far back as the High Middle Ages. It has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century. It lost the status of prince-bishopric but remains the main religious centre in the country. Utrecht was the most important city in the Netherlands until the Dutch Golden Age, when it was surpassed by Amsterdam as the country's cultural centre and most populous city.

Utrecht is host to Utrecht University, the largest university in the Netherlands, as well as several other institutions of higher education. Due to its central position within the country, it is an important transport hub for both rail and road transport the busiest train station in the Netherlands, Utrecht Centraal, is in the city of Utrecht. It has the second highest number of cultural events in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam. [9] In 2012, Lonely Planet included Utrecht in the top 10 of the world's unsung places. [10]

Peace of Utrecht - History

The Treaty of Utrecht signed in 1713 temporarily halted what would be a century of warfare between emerging European superpowers France and Great Britain.

At the same time, the French in America and the British North American colonies pulled back from the intercolonial fighting of the past decade and moved into what became three decades of peace on the northern frontier.

Both sides knew that the peace would be only temporary. But, in the meantime, both sides used the break to regroup, consolidate their holdings, and to move forward with new settlement initiatives.

In New York, new outposts were built at Oswego and on the upper Hudson. New patents were issued for lands in the greater Mohawk and Champlain Valleys. And new settlement initiatives brought new people from Europe and the other American colonies. The atmosphere remained somewhat charged but the clouds had lifted enough for new settlers to pour into these new lands - staking out new farms, harvesting the forest, and beginning to send farm and forest products down to Albany for re-shipment to New York and beyond.

Geographically immense Albany County experienced tremendous growth in its settler (European and African origin) population during these years. Its population increased from 3,329 on the census of 1714 to 10,634 in 1749. Some of the growth was due to the natural increase and overflow of the residents of the core settled areas of Albany, Schenectady, and Rensselaerswyck. But the lead story behind the population upsurge rested in new immigration and settlement.

These demographic forces had a great effect on the growth and development of the colonial city of Albany in that frontier settlers represented new sources of farm and forest products and also new customers for Albany goods and services. The city's population continued to increase - but slowly during this period as natural increase and some immigrants barely replaced the Albany natives who found their lives in an expanding hinterland.

The French and Indian raids on Old Saratoga in 1744 and 1745 followed by four years of warfare temporarily arrested frontier development. However, the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, re-opened the settlement floodgates to new immigration boosting the settler population of greater Albany County to more than 42,000 inhabitants by the eve of the American Revolution.

War of the Spanish Succession

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was an early-18th-century European war, triggered by the death in November 1700 of the childless Charles II of Spain. It established the principle that dynastic rights were secondary to maintaining the balance of power between different countries. [6] Related conflicts include the 1700–1721 Great Northern War, Rákóczi's War of Independence in Hungary, the Camisard revolt in southern France, Queen Anne's War in North America and minor struggles in colonial India.

  • Philip V is recognised as King of Spain but accepts permanent separation of France and Spain
  • Spain cedes the Spanish Netherlands, Naples, Milan and Sardinia to Austria, Sicily to Savoy, Gibraltar and Menorca to Britain
  • The Principality of Orange and the Ubaye Valley are ceded to France
  • Dutch Republic is awarded barrier fortresses

Holy Roman Empire

  • Great Britain
  • Dutch Republic
  • Pro-Habsburg Spain
  • Prussia (from 1702)
  • Savoy (after 1703)
  • Portugal (from 1703)
  • France
  • Pro-Bourbon Spain
  • Bavaria (until 1704)
  • Savoy (until 1703)
  • Cologne (until 1702)
  • Liège (until 1702)
  • Louis XIV
  • Claude de Villars
  • Vendôme
  • Berwick
  • Boufflers
  • Villeroy
  • Philip V
  • Maximilian II

Although weakened by over a century of continuous conflict, in 1700 the Spanish Empire remained a global confederation that included the Spanish Netherlands, large parts of Italy, the Philippines and much of the Americas. Charles's closest heirs were members of the Austrian Habsburgs or French Bourbons acquisition of an undivided Spanish Empire by either threatened the European balance of power.

Attempts by Louis XIV of France and William III of England to partition the empire in 1698 and 1700 were rejected by the Spanish. Instead, Charles named Philip of Anjou, a grandson of Louis XIV, as his heir if he refused, the alternative was Charles, younger son of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. Having accepted, Philip was proclaimed king of an undivided Spanish Empire on 16 November 1700. The proclamation led to war, with France and Spain on one side and the Grand Alliance on the other to maintain the separation of the Spanish and French thrones.

The French held the advantage in the early stages, but were forced onto the defensive after 1706 however, by 1710 the Allies had failed to make any significant progress, while Bourbon victories in Spain had secured Philip's position as king. When Emperor Joseph I died in 1711, Charles succeeded his brother as emperor, and the new British government initiated peace talks. Since only British subsidies kept their allies in the war, this resulted in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, followed by the 1714 Treaties of Rastatt and Baden.

Philip was confirmed as king of Spain in return for accepting its permanent separation from France the Spanish Empire remained largely intact, but ceded territories in Italy and the Low Countries to Austria and Savoy. Britain retained Gibraltar and Menorca which it captured during the war, acquired significant trade concessions in the Spanish Americas, and replaced the Dutch as the leading maritime and commercial European power. The Dutch gained a strengthened defence line in what was now the Austrian Netherlands although they remained a major commercial power, the cost of the war permanently damaged their economy.

France withdrew backing for the exiled Jacobites and recognised the Hanoverians as heirs to the British throne ensuring a friendly Spain was a major achievement, but left them financially exhausted. The decentralisation of the Holy Roman Empire continued, with Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony increasingly acting as independent states. Combined with victories over the Ottomans, this meant the Austrian Habsburgs increasingly switched their focus to southern Europe.

The 1713 Peace of Utrecht and its Enduring Effects

1 Balance of Power: Adversarial Pair of Scales or Associational Arch?
Jaap de Wilde
2 Envisioning Europe after Utrecht: Voltaire and the Historiography of the Balance of Power
Isaac Nakhimovsky
3 The Peace of Utrecht, the Balance of Power and the Law of Nations
Randall Lesaffer

Part 2
The Peace of Utrecht: Relationship to Colonial Regimes and Trade Monopolies

4 “The Long Peace”: Commercial Treaties and the Principles of Global Trade at the Peace of Utrecht
Koen Stapelbroek
5 The Social Origins of 18th Century British Grand Strategy: a Historical Sociology of the Peace of Utrecht
Benno Teschke
6 Public Debt, the Peace of Utrecht and the Rivalry between Company and State
Sundhya Pahuja

Part 3
The Peace of Utrecht: Ideas and Ideals the Development of the International Legal Order

7 Peace of Utrecht (1713) and the “Crisis of European Conscience”
Martti Koskenniemi
8 In the Shadow of Utrecht: Perpetual Peace and International Order, 1713–1815
Stella Ghervas

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23 treaties of Utrecht that changed European history forever

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11 April marks the 304th anniversary of the signing of the Peace of Utrecht by most of the representatives at the congress that convened to negotiate the terms that would end the War of the Spanish Succession. Or perhaps it should be 12 April. A few contemporaries alleged that the documents were backdated so that the ceremony would not fall on 1 April, or Fools’ Day, according to the old calendar. At that time, England and most of Protestant Europe had still not accepted the Gregorian calendar reform of 1582, so countries that followed the old style were, by the eighteenth century, 11 days behind those who had accepted the new style. Purportedly, the representatives of the Netherlands either deliberately signed after midnight or refused to backdate the agreement, thinking 1 April (that is, April Fools’ Day) a fitting date for such a treaty.

The pacification of Utrecht ended more than 13 years of war that had been fought in both the old and new worlds. The War of the Spanish Succession had broken out after the death of Carlos II (dubbed Carlos the Bewitched), who had bequeathed his empire to a Bourbon heir. Fear of French hegemony united the allies: England, the United Provinces, Austria, most of the Holy Roman Empire, many of the Italian princes, Portugal, and Savoy against France, the elector of Bavaria, the archbishop of Cologne, and a few other minor powers. As the struggle continued, the domestic landscape shifted with the Tories ending the Whig domination in Great Britain in 1710 and beginning secret negotiations with France. Those negotiations settled most of the points of contention before the “conferences” at Utrecht convened.

A first edition of the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, in Spanish (left), and a copy printed in 1714 in Latin and English (right). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

15 months after the negotiations had begun in the picturesque town of Utrecht, the peace with France was signed by Britain, Savoy, Portugal, and the United Provinces. Between 1713 and 1715, 23 separate treaties and conventions were signed (Spain and Austria did not come to final terms until 1725), and together were referred to as the “Peace of Utrecht.” Missing from the signatories were the representatives of the Holy Roman Empire. Faced with escalating demands from France, the German representatives had balked and withdrawn. For them, the war with France continued until the Treaty of Rastatt settled the conflict between France and the Austrian Emperor in March of 1714, and the treaty of Baden reconciled France and the Holy Roman Empire in September of 1714. Frederick William I signed the treaty as king in Prussia, but fought on as elector of Brandenburg.

As in many treaties, the most powerful players determined the outcome. After the scrabble for territory, the empire of Carlos II was partitioned with Philip V the Bourbon gaining Spain and Spanish America, and with the Habsburgs acquiring the Spanish Netherlands and Italian territories, both bulwarks against French aggression. The Dutch and the Savoyards were given lands that served as barriers against the French. The Dutch received a barrier of fortresses in the Southern Netherlands that proved ineffective Savoy received the island of Sicily with its royal title, some Milanese territory, and a defensible Alpine border against France. Brandenburg-Prussia gained some minor territories and the acknowledgment of the elector’s kingship in Prussia, a recognition of that state’s growing power. Despite significant losses, France kept the boundaries of 1697 as did the Holy Roman Empire with the exception of Landau. Portugal’s alliance with Britain ultimately won the country concessions in the new world. The major role of the British was recognized when the nation brokered the peace and gained the “asiento”: the right to send an annual ship to Spanish America and territories in the new world. The cession of Gibraltar and Minorca ensured British naval supremacy in the western Mediterranean.

After the “Peace of Utrecht,” the international order was dominated by five great powers: France, Britain, Spain, the Habsburg Empire, and Russia. Some of the issues purportedly settled with the treaty continued to haunt Europe, such as the port of Dunkirk, a haven for pirates and privateers that plagued British trade the problem of Acadia, which became the tragedy of Acadia in the eighteenth century the “French shore,” the right to use the Newfoundland shore to dry fish, which lasted until 1972, and Gibraltar, which the Spanish still claim today. A Bourbon reigns today in Spain, but Catalonia, which fought on the losing side, continues to claim its rights.

Featured image credit: “Allegory of the Peace of Utrecht (1713)” by Antoine Rivalz. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Linda Frey is Professor of History at the University of Montana and Marsha Frey is Professor of History at Kansas State University. Together they are writing a monograph on the culture of French revolutionary diplomacy and are the authors of the Oxford Bibliographies in International Relations article "Peace of Utrecht".

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Caustic Congresses III: the Peace of Utrecht (1713)

Great men conferring /

Of all the peace conferences that turned caustic almost at the moment of signing, the Peace of Utrecht which ‘ended’ the War of the Spanish Succession (q.v.) wins a prize. The year was 1713 the comparatively peaceful eighteenth century was just beginning. The seventeenth had been full of blood and thunder.

The Congress met at Utrecht in the Low Countries without the presence of Austria. Philip V (Felipe Quinto) stayed as King of Spain but had to renounce his claim to the French throne, and to accept the loss of Spain’s European empire. Later, Austrian emperor Charles VI found he could not carry out his plans for expansion without allies, and accepted the terms of Utrecht at Rastadt and Baden in 1714, one year later.

Though Austria was not present, she was awarded the southern Netherlands, Milan, Naples and Sardinia. Britain kept Gibraltar and Minorca, causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth between Spain and Britain which has lasted to this day, in the case of Gibraltar. Minorca was won back again after 1756. Britain also obtained the dubious right to supply the American colonies with black slaves sold by their tribal chiefs. She also got Newfoundland, Hudson Bay, St. Kitts and, oh dear, recognition of the Hanoverian succession, which led to a series of poor Georges.

France was made to return some recent conquests, but managed to hold on to everything acquired up to the Peace of Nijmegen (Holland) in 1679. She also collared the valuable city of Strasbourg. The Duke of Savoy and head of the Italian royal family won Sicily, and set out to improve frontiers in northern Italy. The Dutch won Austrian recognition of their right to build and garrison ‘barrier’ fortresses in the south Netherlands, a clause which made Austria unhappy. The most important result was that French attempts at European domination had been, at least for the moment, checked. Great Britain did very well out of Utrecht, making significant naval, colonial and commercial gains, and forging ahead with a greater role in world affairs.

Treaty of Utrecht

A copy of the declaration of war that in 1744 finally shattered the period of peace that followed the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 (courtesy Environment Canada/Parks).

Utrecht, Treaty of

Utrecht, Treaty of, an agreement between Britain and France concluded 11 Apr 1713 at Utrecht in the Netherlands as part of the series of treaties ending the War of the Spanish Succession. The treaty recognized Queen Anne as the legitimate sovereign of England and officially ended French support for the claims of the Jacobite party to the British throne. Territorially, it resulted in major concessions by France in N America. France agreed to restore the entire drainage basin of Hudson Bay to Britain and to compensate the Hudson's Bay Co for losses suffered during the war. In addition, France agreed to cede all claims to Newfoundland and to evacuate its base there at Plaisance (Placentia), although French fishermen retained certain rights on the Newfoundland coasts (see French Shore). Moreover, Acadia, whose capital of Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal) had been captured by a New England expedition in 1710, was to pass to Britain, although France continued in possession of a part of the territory (modern New Brunswick) because of differences of interpretation in the size of the territory. Lastly, France retained Cape Breton I, where it began to construct the fortress of Louisbourg and Ile Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island).

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