Peace of Utrecht

Dafato Team | Sep 10, 2023

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The Treaty of Utrecht, also known as the Peace of Utrecht or the Treaty of Utrecht-Rastatt, is actually a set of treaties signed by the antagonist states in the War of the Spanish Succession between 1713 and 1715 in the Dutch city of Utrecht and the German city of Rastatt. The treaties put an end to the war, although after their signature hostilities continued in Spanish territory until July 1715, when the Marquis of Asfeld took the island of Mallorca. In this treaty, Europe changed its political map. The second oldest treaty in force because of the issue of Gibraltar, a military seat of the British Crown.

The first initiative to try to reach an agreement that would put an end to the War of the Spanish Succession took place at the beginning of 1709 and came from Louis XIV. The French king was under pressure because of the latest defeats his armies had suffered, and even more so because France was going through a serious economic and financial crisis, which made it very difficult for it to continue fighting. Finally, the agreement of the preliminaries of The Hague, of 42 points, was rejected by Louis XIV himself because it imposed conditions that he considered humiliating -among others, to help to dislodge from the throne of the Monarchy of Spain to his grandson Philip of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou-. Neither the Emperor Joseph I of Austria seemed very willing to sign them: although his brother Archduke Charles was recognized as king of Spain (with the title of Charles III the Archduke), he considered that more concessions could have been obtained from Louis XIV, whom his advisors considered incapable of continuing the war.

As Louis XIV had foreseen, Philip V was not willing to give up the Spanish throne voluntarily. This was communicated to him by his ambassador, Michel-Jean Amelot, who had tried to convince the king to be satisfied with obtaining some territories and thus avoid the loss of the entire monarchy. In spite of this Louis XIV ordered his troops to leave Spain, except for 25 battalions: "I have rejected the odious proposition to contribute to dispossess him of his kingdom; but if I continue to give him the means to hold on to it, I make peace impossible." "The conclusion he reached was severe for Philip V: it was impossible for the war to end as long as he remained on the throne of Spain," says Joaquim Albareda.

When the Marquis de Torcy, Louis XIV's Minister of State, informed the allies of the French king's refusal to sign the preliminaries of The Hague, he stated: "I foresee that we will have to wait for another moment for a peace so desired and necessary for all of Europe". That moment arrived on January 3, 1710 when, at Torcy's own initiative, new negotiations with the allies began in Geertruidenberg on the basis of the preliminaries of The Hague. Louis XIV intended to assure Philip V sovereignty over some of the Italian states of the Spanish Monarchy - specifically the Kingdom of Naples, the Kingdom of Sicily, and the island of Sardinia - as compensation for his renunciation of the Spanish Crown in favor of Archduke Charles.

However, the allies refused to introduce modifications in the stipulations of the Hague preliminaries, which did not contemplate any compensation for the abandonment of the Spanish throne by Philip V and, especially the British, insisted again that if Philip V refused to renounce the Spanish crown, Louis XIV should collaborate with the allies to dethrone him. The council of State of the French monarchy presided over by Louis XIV met on March 26 to discuss the situation and, finally, on May 11 it was decided that Louis XIV would not undertake any military action to dethrone his grandson Philip V but would contribute money to the allies - 500,000 pounds a month - to fight against him.

This last proposal seemed insufficient, mainly to the Dutch, who demanded first that the French navy participate in military operations against Philip V and, later, that their army also intervene, setting a deadline of 15 days to respond. Louis XIV then put an end to the Geertruidenberg talks.

According to Joaquim Albareda, "that round of negotiations was another lost opportunity to achieve peace. Prince Eugene of Savoy and Marlboroug must have regretted not having given in to their excessive pretensions before the veteran and experienced king of France, since they had missed the opportunity to achieve a peace highly favorable to the allied interests and, especially, to the House of Austria".

The secret negotiations between Louis XIV and Great Britain

Faced with the intransigence shown by the Dutch in the Geertruidenberg talks to reach peace, Louis XIV and his minister of state the Marquis de Torcy decided to sound out the government of Great Britain and in August 1710 his agent in London François Gaulthier contacted the member of the government Robert Harley. These contacts were favored by the victory of the Tories in the elections of the autumn of that year since this party defended to put an end to the war, as opposed to the bellicist position of the defeated Whig party. Harley became Financial Secretary and together with Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke, Secretary of State, he promoted the new "pacifist" policy that was reinforced when the two resounding victories that had obtained Philip V in the battles of Brihuega and Villaviciosa at the beginning of December of 1710 against the army of the archduke Carlos were known in London - after the failure of his second entrance in Madrid - and that assured to Philip V the Spanish throne - the Austracist dominion was reduced to the Principality of Catalonia and to the kingdom of Majorca. That same month of December of 1710 the Tory government made known to the Marquis of Torcy that Great Britain would not support the aspirations of the archduke to the Spanish crown in exchange for important commercial and colonial concessions, which meant a total turnaround in the prospects of peace. From then on, the poet and diplomat Matthew Prior, on the British side, and a good connoisseur of colonial trade, Nicolas Mesnager, on the French side, joined the negotiations.

The definitive change in the international scenario took place on April 17, 1711 with the death of Emperor Joseph I, which meant that Archduke Charles was the new emperor. This fact, according to Joaquim Albareda, provided "the perfect pretext for the British to argue for a change of course: they had to avoid the constitution of a universal monarchy, now of the Habsburgs". The first measure they took was to significantly reduce the economic aid that supported the imperial army, while continuing with the secret negotiations with the French. On September 27, 1711 Charles left Barcelona to be crowned emperor under the name of Charles VI (the ceremony took place on December 22 in Frankfurt) leaving his wife Isabella Christina of Brunswick as his lieutenant and captain general of Catalonia and governor of the other kingdoms of Spain, to demonstrate his "paternal love" for his faithful vassals of the monarchy. In addition to this gesture, Charles VI wanted to make it clear that he was not renouncing the throne of Spain and had a commemorative medal struck with the legend Carolus Hispaniarum, Hungariae, et Bohemiae Rex, Arxidux Astriae, electis in Regem Romanorum.

On April 22, 1711, only four days after the death of Emperor Joseph I, King Louis XIV sent his agent Gaulthier to London with a document in which he accepted the two main British demands: to stop supporting James III Stuart in his aspirations to succeed Queen Anne of England and to recognize the Protestant line of succession in the person of George of Hanover, and to give guarantees that the Monarchies of France and Spain would never be unified, a possibility that appeared on the horizon as the Grand Dauphin had died that same month, making Philip V of Spain second in the line of succession, after his older brother Louis, Duke of Burgundy. A few days later Gaulthier returned with the agreement of the British. The result of the negotiation was translated into three documents that foreshadowed the subsequent agreements of Utrecht and specified the benefits obtained by the United Kingdom. The Dutch were not informed of all this until October 1711. When the House of Lords voted against the agreement on December 7, 1711, Queen Anne appointed twelve new peers in favor of it and in a new vote got it passed. She then dismissed Marlborough - who was a strong supporter of continuing the war - as captain general, being replaced by the Duke of Ormonde who in May 1712 received secret orders from the government to avoid battles or sieges.

The reaction of Charles VI was not made wait and his ambassador in London made arrive to Queen Anne a memorial in which he manifested his surprise for the agreement reached with France negotiated behind his back. In the same one he showed his stupefaction for the resignation to the objective of the Great Alliance yielding Spain and the Indies to Felipe V:

The Treaties of Utrecht

Queen Anne summoned the conflicting parties to the Dutch city of Utrecht to sign the peace that would put an end to the War of the Spanish Succession. The sessions began on January 29, 1712 and immediately it became evident, as the imperial ambassador communicated from The Hague, "the great union and harmony that exists in Utrecht between the ministers of England and France" and another representative informed of the determination of the British in concluding "the bad peace that they announce to us".

The death in February 1712 of the heir to the throne of France, the Duke of Burgundy, and the following month of his son, the Duke of Brittany, made Philip V the successor of Louis XIV, and increased the need for him to renounce his rights to the Crown of France or Spain so that the agreement between Louis XIV and Queen Anne could go forward. Apparently Louis XIV would have preferred that his grandson renounce the Crown of Spain and become the new dauphin of France - and even in this purpose he received the support of Philip V's wife, Marie Louise Gabrielle of Savoy, and the British were willing to accept this in exchange for the Duke of Savoy to occupy the throne of Spain and the Indies, but Philip V in April of 1711 communicated that he preferred to continue being king of Spain, grateful for the fidelity that his subjects of the Crown of Castile had shown him, reason why he renounced to his rights to the throne of France. Thus the secret Franco-British agreement was able to take its course.

The gist of the agreement reached between France and Britain was made known by Queen Anne at a session of the British Parliament held on June 12, 1712 in which, after guaranteeing succession to the throne in the Protestant line of the House of Hanover, she stated.

The importance of the British army in the Grand Coalition was proven the following month at the Battle of Denain, in which the new British captain general, the Duke of Ormonde, received orders from his government not to intervene, and the Dutch and Imperial armies were defeated by the army of Louis XIV. Britain's de facto withdrawal from the war was confirmed on August 21 when the armistice was declared between the British and the French.

The news of the end of hostilities between the monarchies of Great Britain and France, as expected, was very badly received at the court of Vienna where severe criticism was made of the conduct of the British who sold "at a bad price so much blood shed", thus "leaving the emperor and the Empire abandoned by their friends".

The news of "such imminent ruin" was not well received in the court of Madrid either, but Philip V had already decided to renounce the Crown of France, although that also meant that the European States outside the peninsula of the Monarchy of Spain would pass in their majority to the sovereignty of Emperor Charles VI. Thus, on November 5, 1712, the renunciation was formalized in a ceremony held before the Cortes of Castile, and attended by the ambassadors of the Queen of England and the King of France. Thus, there were no more impediments to sign the treaties that would put an end to the war of Spanish succession.

On April 11, 1713, the first treaty between the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Duchy of Savoy and the United Provinces was signed in Utrecht. In it, the representatives of Louis XIV, in exchange for the recognition of Philip V as king of Spain, had to cede to Great Britain extensive territories in the future Canada (St. Kitts, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and territories of Hudson Bay), in addition to recognizing the Protestant succession in the United Kingdom - promising to stop supporting the Jacobites - and promising to dismantle the fortress of Dunkirk - in return France incorporated the valley of Barcelonette in Haute Provence ceded by the Duke of Savoy and the Principality of Orange, ceded by Prussia.

As for the Netherlands, Louis XIV ceded the "Barrière" of frontier strongholds in the Spanish Netherlands that would ensure their defense against an eventual French attack (Furnes, Fort Knocke, Ypres, Menen, Tournai, Mons, Charleroi, Namur and Ghent), although in smaller numbers than agreed in the preliminaries of The Hague of 1709. As the Spanish Netherlands finally passed to Austrian sovereignty, a new treaty of the Barrier was signed on November 15, 1715 between the United Provinces and the Empire, which, according to Joaquim Albareda, turned them "into a sort of Dutch colony both in military and economic terms, as they became a territory open to Dutch and English exports, a reality that prevented Belgian manufacturers from competing industrially with products originating in those countries".

Three months later the representatives of Philip V - who had been held in Paris for almost a year (between May 1712 and March 1713) by order of the Marquis de Torcy so that they would not interfere in the negotiations, although with the excuse that they needed a passport to go to Utrecht - were incorporated into the agreement with the signing on July 13 of the treaty between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Spain. Philip V's ambassadors, the Duke of Osuna and the Marquis of Monteleon, had very precise instructions from their king, such as to maintain the kingdom of Naples for his Crown or that "no nation should traffic directly in the Indies nor should it reach their ports and coasts" and in the case of granting them advantages, the ships would be Spanish and should leave and return to Spanish ports. An issue to which he attached great importance was the case of the Catalans -at that time Barcelona was still resisting the Bourbon siege- about which he affirmed that "in no way should they listen to any pact that aims to preserve the Catalans' pretended privileges".

From the instructions they received from Philip V the plenipotentiaries had to make concessions in all sections, and their only success in reality was to maintain what referred to the case of the Catalans. Great Britain received Gibraltar and Minorca and wide commercial advantages in the Spanish empire of the Indies, concretized in the seat of blacks, which was granted to the South Sea Company and by virtue of which it could send to the Spanish America a total of 144 000 slaves during thirty years, and the ship of annual permission, a ship of 500 tons authorized to transport goods and merchandise to the fair of Portobelo and free of tariffs. With these two concessions, the commercial monopoly that the Hispanic Monarchy had maintained for its Castilian vassals during the previous two centuries was broken for the first time -the terms under which the ship of permission was to operate were specified in a way even more favorable to British interests in the commercial treaty signed in 1716-.

It was followed by 19 other bilateral and multilateral treaties and conventions between the states and monarchies present at Utrecht, among which the following stand out:

The Treaties of Rastatt and Baden

Although he received the Duchy of Milan, the Kingdom of Naples, the island of Sardinia (exchanged for the Kingdom of Sicily in 1718) and the Spanish Netherlands, Charles VI did not renounce his aspirations to the Spanish Crown -which is why he did not recognize Philip V as King of Spain or the Duke of Savoy as King of Sicily- and refused to sign the peace at Utrecht, although the Dutch -his last allies- had done so. According to the Austracist chronicler exiled in Vienna, Francesc Castellví, Charles VI acted in this way because

As the Empire did not sign the agreements of Utrecht, the war continued in the spring of 1713. The French army occupied the squares of Landau and Fribourg and the British fleet blockaded the Empress Elisabeth Christina and the imperial troops that remained in the Principality of Catalonia. These military setbacks convinced Charles VI to put an end to the war and peace negotiations began in the German city of Rastatt at the beginning of 1714.

The peace treaty between France and the Empire was signed in Rastatt on March 6, 1714. The borders between the two returned to their pre-war positions, except for the town of Landau in der Pfalz (in the Rhenish Palatinate), which remained in French hands. The agreement was completed with the signing of the Treaty of Baden on September 7, 1714.

The "case of the Catalans

Once the negotiations began in Utrecht, Queen Anne of England -who, according to Joaquim Albareda, "for reasons of honor and conscience, felt obliged to reclaim all the rights enjoyed by the Catalans when they incited them to place themselves under the rule of the House of Austria, she felt obliged to claim all the rights that the Catalans enjoyed when they were incited to put themselves under the dominion of the House of Austria"- made negotiations through her ambassador in the court of Madrid - when still no treaty had been signed - so that Philip V would grant a general amnesty to the Spanish austracists, and singularly to the Catalans, who in addition had to conserve their Constitutions. But Philip's answer was negative and he communicated to the British ambassador "that peace is as necessary to you as it is to us and you will not want to break it for a trifle".

Finally the British Secretary of State Viscount Bolingbroke, eager to end the war, gave in to the obstinacy of Philip V and renounced that this one was committed to maintain the "previous regional norms" Catalan. When the ambassador of the Three Commons of Catalonia in London, Pablo Ignacio de Dalmases, learned of this change of attitude of the British government, he managed to get Queen Anne to receive him individually on June 28, 1713, but she replied that "she had done what she could for Catalonia".

The abandonment of the Catalans by Great Britain was embodied two weeks later in article 13 of the peace treaty between Great Britain and Spain signed on July 13, 1713. In it Philip V guaranteed lives and goods to the Catalans, but as for their own laws and institutions, he only promised that they would have "all those privileges possessed by the inhabitants of the two Castilles". The Count de la Corzana, one of the ambassadors of Charles VI in Utrecht, considered the agreement so "unseemly that time will not erase the sacrifice that the English ministry makes of Spain and singularly of the Crown of Aragon, and more particularly of Catalonia, to whom England has given so many assurances to support and protect them".

In the following negotiations carried out in Rastatt the "case of the Catalans" soon became the most difficult question to solve, because Philip V was eager to apply in Catalonia and Majorca the "Nueva Planta" that he had promulgated in 1707 for the "rebellious kingdoms" of Aragon and Valencia, that supposed the disappearance as States. Thus, on March 6, 1714 the treaty of Rastatt was signed by which the Austrian Empire was incorporated to the peace of Utrecht, without obtaining the commitment of Felipe V on the maintenance of the laws and own institutions of the Principality of Catalonia and of the kingdom of Majorca that continued without being put under his authority. The refusal to make any type of concession was argued this way Philip V in a letter sent to his grandfather Luis XIV.

In July 1714 Bolingbroke also rejected a last proposal of the representative of the Three Commons of Catalonia in London Pablo Ignacio de Dalmases for Queen Anne to "take Catalonia or at least Barcelona and Majorca in deposit until general peace without releasing them to anyone until by treaty they are adjudicated and the observance of their privileges is assured" - in reference to the negotiations taking place in Baden - because that could mean the resumption of the war. The current of criticism of British policy towards the Catalan and Mallorcan allies was expressed not only in parliamentary debates but also in two publications that appeared between March and September 1714. In The Case of the Catalans Considered, after repeatedly alluding to the responsibility incurred by the British for having encouraged the Catalans to rebel and to the lack of support they had afterwards when they fought alone, it was stated.

For its part, The Deplorable History of the Catalans, after narrating what happened during the war, praised the heroism of the Catalans: "now the world has a new example of the influence that freedom can exert on generous minds".

The "case of the Catalans" took a complete turn when Queen Anne of England died on August 1, 1714 and her successor, George I of Hanover, gave orders to the British ambassador in Paris to put pressure on Louis XIV to force Philip V to commit himself to maintain the laws and institutions of the Principality of Catalonia. But the British pressures had no effect on Louis XIV, despite the fact that for months he had been advising his grandson to "moderate the severity with which you wish to treat them . Even if they are rebels, they are your subjects and you must treat them like a father, correcting them but without losing them". The Catalan ambassador Felip Ferran de Sacirera was received in audience on September 18 by King George I, who was in The Hague on his way to London to be crowned, in which he promised him that he would do his best for Catalonia, but he feared that it was too late. In fact, a few days later the news was known that on September 11, 1714 Barcelona had capitulated.

Both the new King George I and the new Whig government, which came out of the elections held at the beginning of 1715, were against the agreements that the previous Tory government had reached with Louis XIV and which had formed the basis of the Peace of Utrecht, but they ended up accepting them because the advantages that Great Britain had obtained were evident, which meant that the British turnaround on the "case of the Catalans" finally did not take place. The Whig government did nothing to help Mallorca, which had not yet fallen into Bourbon hands, and on July 2, 1715 Mallorca capitulated.

The territorial changes of the Peace of Utrecht

In addition, the Austrian troops commit themselves to evacuate the areas of the Principality of Catalonia, which they do from June 30, 1713. In view of this, the General Assembly of Arms (Ecclesiastical Arm, Military Arm and Royal or Popular Arm) agreed to resist. From this moment on, an unequal war began, which lasted for almost fourteen months, concentrated in Barcelona, Cardona and Castellciutat, apart from the rifle corps scattered throughout the country. The turning point would be when the Felipista troops broke the siege of Barcelona on September 11, 1714. Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera fell ten months later: on July 2, 5 and 11, 1715.

The great beneficiary of this set of treaties was Great Britain, which, in addition to its territorial gains, obtained substantial economic advantages that allowed it to break Spain's commercial monopoly with its American territories. Above all, it had contained the territorial and dynastic ambitions of Louis XIV, and France suffered serious economic difficulties caused by the great costs of the conflict. The balance of power on land in Europe was thus assured, while at sea, Great Britain began to threaten Spanish control in the western Mediterranean with Menorca and Gibraltar. As Joaquim Albareda has pointed out, "ultimately, the Peace of Utrecht made it possible for the United Kingdom to assume the role of European arbiter, maintaining a territorial balance based on the balance of power in Europe and its maritime hegemony".

For the Spanish Monarchy, the Peace of Utrecht meant, as many historians have pointed out, the political conclusion of the hegemony it had held in Europe since the beginning of the 16th century.


  1. Peace of Utrecht
  2. Tratado de Utrecht
  3. Albareda, 2010, pp. 282-283.
  4. Albareda, 2010, p. 284.
  5. a b c Albareda, 2010, p. 288.
  6. Albareda, 2010, pp. 288-289.
  7. ^ Bucholz, Robert (2020). Early Modern England 1485–1714 (3rd ed.). Wiley Blackwell. p. 362. ISBN 978-1-118-53222-5.
  8. ^ R.R. Palmer, A History of the Modern World 2nd ed. 1961, p. 234.
  9. ^ G.M. Trevelyan, A shortened history of England (1942) p. 363.
  10. ^ Articles preliminaires accordez & promis per le Roi T.C. pour servir de fondement aux Negociations de Geertruydenberg. Le 2. Janvier 1710
  11. ^ The staunch Tory Strafford was hauled before a committee of Parliament for his part in the treaty, which the Whigs considered not advantageous enough.
  12. [1] Archiválva 2010. augusztus 20-i dátummal a Wayback Machine-ben, Holland Történelmi Intézet, (Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, ING)
  13. ^ Vincenzo Bacallar Sanna, La Sardegna Paraninfa della Pace e un piano segreto per la sovranità 1712-1714 (a cura di Sabine Enders), Stuttgart, Giovanni Masala Verlag (Collana Sardìnnia, volume 10), 2011, p. 240, ISBN 978-3-941851-03-0.
  14. ^ L'importanza di questo trattato per gli olandesi fu relativamente piccola, e la loro influenza fu insignificante. Questa spiacevole situazione portò alla creazione del proverbiale detto De vous, chez vous, sans vous, che significa: "Su voi, da voi, senza voi."
  15. ^ I francesi avevano fatto aperture per la pace nel 1706 e nuovamente nel 1709.

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