- Describe the terms of the Peace of Utrecht and their significance across Europe
- The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was a European conflict triggered by the death of the last Habsburg king of Spain, Charles II, in 1700. As he had reigned over a vast global empire, the question of who would succeed him had long troubled ministers in capitals throughout Europe.
- The balance of victories and losses shifted regularly over the course of the war, with both sides exhausted militarily and financially. As early as 1710, the Tories initiated secret talks with the French, seeking mutual ground whereon Great Britain and France could dictate peace to the rest of Europe.
- The Congress of Utrecht opened in 1712, but it was not accompanied by an armistice. One of the first questions discussed was the nature of the guarantees to be given by France and Spain that their crowns would be kept separate.
- The treaty, which was in fact a series of separate treaties, secured Britain’s main war aims: Louis XIV’s acknowledgement of the Protestant succession in England, and safeguards to ensure that the French and Spanish thrones remained separate.
- A series of separate treaties signed between 1714 and 1720 ended conflicts that continued in the aftermath of Utrecht between states involved in the War of the Spanish Succession.
- Utrecht marked the rise of Great Britain under Anne and later the House of Hanover and the end of the hegemonic ambitions of France. It also secured the balance of power and helped to regulate the relations between the major European powers over the coming century.
treaties of Rastatt and Baden
Two peace treaties that in 1714 ended ongoing European conflicts following the War of the Spanish Succession. The first treaty, signed between France and Austria in the city of Rastatt, followed the earlier Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, which ended hostilities between France and Spain on the one hand, and Britain and the Dutch Republic on the other hand. The second treaty, signed in Baden, was required to end the hostilities between France and the Holy Roman Empire.
A European coalition consisting (at various times) of Austria, Bavaria, Brandenburg, the Dutch Republic, England, the Holy Roman Empire, Ireland, the Palatinate of the Rhine, Portugal, Savoy, Saxony, Scotland, Spain, and Sweden. The coalition was founded in 1686 as the League of Augsburg in an attempt to halt Louis XIV of France’s expansionist policies. After the Treaty of Hague was signed in 1701, it went into a second phase as the Alliance of the War of Spanish Succession.
War of the Spanish Succession
A major European conflict of the early 18th century (1701/2–1714) triggered by the death in 1700 of the last Habsburg king of Spain, Charles II. The Austrians, the Dutch, and English allies formally declared war against France and its allies in May 1702.
The permission given by the Spanish government to other countries to sell people as slaves to the Spanish colonies, between 1543 and 1834. In British history, it usually refers to the contract between Spain and Great Britain created in 1713 that dealt with the supply of African slaves for the Spanish territories in the Americas.
Background: The War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was a European conflict triggered by the death of the last Habsburg King of Spain, Charles II, in 1700. He had reigned over a vast global empire and the question of who would succeed him had long troubled ministers in capitals throughout Europe. Attempts to solve the problem by partitioning the empire between the eligible candidates from the royal Houses of France (Bourbon), Austria (Habsburg), and Bavaria (Wittelsbach) ultimately failed, and on his deathbed Charles II fixed the entire Spanish inheritance on Philip, Duke of Anjou, the grandson of King Louis XIV of France. With Philip ruling in Spain, Louis XIV would secure great advantages for his dynasty, but some statesmen regarded a dominant House of Bourbon as a threat to European stability, jeopardizing the balance of power.
To counter Louis XIV’s growing dominance, England, the Dutch Republic, and Austria—together with their allies in the Holy Roman Empire—re-formed the Grand Alliance (1701) and supported Emperor Leopold I’s claim to the Spanish inheritance for his second son, Archduke Charles. By backing the Habsburg candidate (known to his supporters as King Charles III of Spain) each member of the coalition sought to reduce the power of France, ensure their own territorial and dynastic security, and restore and improve the trade opportunities they had enjoyed under Charles II.
The balance of victories and losses shifted regularly over the course of the war, with both sides exhausted militarily and financially, also as a result of a series of earlier wars waged in Europe. As early as August 1710, the Tories initiated secret talks with the French, seeking mutual ground whereon Great Britain and France could dictate peace to the rest of Europe.
France and Great Britain had come to terms in October 1711, when the preliminaries of peace had been signed in London. The preliminaries were based on a tacit acceptance of the partition of Spain’s European possessions.
The Congress of Utrecht, opened in January 1712, followed, but it was not accompanied by an armistice (only in August did Britain, Savoy, France, and Spain agree to a general suspension of arms).
One of the first questions discussed was the nature of the guarantees to be given by France and Spain that their crowns would be kept separate, but matters did not make much progress until July, when Philip signed a renunciation. With Great Britain and France having agreed upon a truce, the pace of negotiation quickened and the main treaties were finally signed in April 1713.
Treaty of Utrecht
The treaty, which was in fact a series of separate treaties, secured Britain’s main war aims: Louis XIV’s acknowledgement of the Protestant succession in England and safeguards to ensure that the French and Spanish thrones remained separate. In North America, where the War of the Spanish Succession turned into a war over colonial gains, Louis XIV ceded to Britain the territories of Saint Kitts and Acadia and recognized Britain’s sovereignty over Rupert’s Land and Newfoundland. In return, Louis XIV kept the major city of Lille on his northern border, but he ceded Furnes, Ypres, Menin, and Tournai to the Spanish Netherlands. He also agreed to the permanent demilitarization of the naval base at Dunkirk. The Dutch received their restricted barrier in the Spanish Netherlands and a share of the trade in the region with Britain. Prussia gained some disputed lands and Portugal won minor concessions in Brazil against encroachments on the Amazon from French Guiana.
In addition, Spain ceded Gibraltar and Minorca to Great Britain and agreed to give to the British the Asiento, a monopoly on the oceanic slave trade to the Spanish colonies in America.Above all, though, Louis XIV had secured for the House of Bourbon the throne of Spain, with his grandson, Philip V, recognized as the rightful king by all signatories.
Utrecht marked the rise of Great Britain under Anne and later the House of Hanover and the end of the hegemonic ambitions of France. The lucrative trading opportunities afforded to the British were gained at the expense of Anne’s allies, with the Dutch forgoing a share in the Asiento and the Holy Roman Empire ceding Spain to Philip V and being forced to reinstate the Elector of Bavaria.
After the signing of the Utrecht treaties, the French continued to be at war with the Holy Roman Empire until 1714, when hostilities ended with the treaties of Rastatt and Baden. Spain and Portugal remained formally at war with each other until the Treaty of Madrid of February 1715, while peace between Spain and Emperor Charles VI, unsuccessful claimant to the Spanish crown, came only in 1720 with the signing of the Treaty of The Hague.
Weakened Spain eventually grew in strength under Philip V, and the country would return to the forefront of European politics. With neither Charles VI nor Philip V willing to accept the Spanish partition, and with no treaty existing between Spain and Austria, the two powers would soon clash in order to gain control of Italy, starting with a brief war in 1718. However, the War of the Spanish Succession brought to an end a long period of major conflict in western Europe; the partition of the Spanish Monarchy had secured the balance of power, and the conditions imposed at Utrecht helped to regulate the relations between the major European powers over the coming century.