First edition of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht between Great Britain and Spain in Spanish (left) and a later edition in Latin and English.
|Location||Utrecht, United Provinces|
Before Charles II of Spain died childless in 1700, he had named his grandnephew Philip as his successor. However, Philip was grandson of Louis XIV of France and also in line for the French throne, and the other major powers in Europe were not willing to tolerate the potential union of two such powerful states. Essentially, the treaties allowed Philip to take the Spanish throne in return for permanently renouncing his claim to the French throne, along with other necessary guarantees that would ensure that France and Spain should not merge, thus preserving the balance of power in Europe. The treaties between several European states, including Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy and the Dutch Republic, helped end the war. The treaties were concluded between the representatives of Louis XIV of France and of his grandson Philip on one hand, and representatives of Anne of Great Britain, Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia, John V of Portugal and the United Provinces of the Netherlands on the other. They marked the end of French ambitions of hegemony in Europe expressed in the wars of Louis XIV, and preserved the European system based on the balance of power. British historian G. M. Trevelyan argues:
That Treaty, which ushered in the stable and characteristic period of Eighteenth-Century civilization, marked the end of danger to Europe from the old French monarchy, and it marked a change of no less significance to the world at large, — the maritime, commercial and financial supremacy of Great Britain.
The War of the Spanish Succession was occasioned by the failure of the Habsburg king, Charles II of Spain, to produce an heir. Dispute followed the death of Charles II in 1700, and fourteen years of war were the result.
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. Following this, the Congress of Utrecht opened on 29 January 1712, with the British representatives being John Robinson, Bishop of Bristol, and Thomas Wentworth, Lord Strafford. Reluctantly the United Provinces accepted the preliminaries and sent representatives, but Emperor Charles VI refused to do so until he was assured that the preliminaries were not binding. This assurance was given, and so in February the Imperial representatives made their appearance. As Philip was not yet recognized as its king, Spain did not at first send plenipotentiaries, but the Duke of Savoy sent one, and the Kingdom of Portugal was represented by Luís da Cunha. 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, and little progress was made until 10 July 1712, when Philip signed a renunciation.
With Great Britain, France and Spain having agreed to a "suspension of arms" (armistice) covering Spain on 19 August in Paris, the pace of negotiation quickened. The first treaty signed at Utrecht was the truce between France and Portugal on 7 November, followed by the truce between France and Savoy on 14 March 1714. That same day, Spain, Great Britain, France and the Empire agreed to the evacuation of Catalonia and an armistice in Italy. The main treaties of peace followed on 11 April 1713. These were five separate treaties between France and Great Britain, the Netherlands, Savoy, Prussia and Portugal. Spain under Philip V signed separate peace treaties with Savoy and Great Britain at Utrecht on 13 July. Negotiations at Utrecht dragged on into the next year, for the peace treaty between Spain and the Netherlands was only signed on 26 June 1714 and that between Spain and Portugal on 6 February 1715.
Several other treaties came out of the congress of Utrecht. France signed treaties of commerce and navigation with Great Britain and the Netherlands (11 April 1713). Great Britain signed a like treaty with Spain (9 December 1713).
The treaty recognised Louis XIV's grandson Philip, Duke of Anjou, as King of Spain (as Philip V), thus confirming the succession stipulated in the will of the Charles II of Spain who died in 1700. However, Philip was compelled to renounce for himself and his descendants any right to the French throne. In similar fashion various French princelings, including most notably the Duke of Berry (Louis XIV's youngest grandson) and the Duke of Orléans (Louis's nephew), renounced for themselves and their descendants any claim to the Spanish throne. Utrecht marked the rise of Great Britain under Anne and later the House of Hanover; her martial exploits were due to Marlborough. The lucrative trading opportunities afforded to the British were gained at the expense of her 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.
The Spanish territories in Europe were apportioned: Savoy received Sicily and parts of the Duchy of Milan, while Charles VI (the Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria) received the Spanish Netherlands, the Kingdom of Naples, Sardinia, and the bulk of the Duchy of Milan. Portugal had its sovereignty recognised over the lands between the Amazon and Oyapock rivers, in Brazil. In 1715 the Portuguese also recovered Colónia do Sacramento in what is now Uruguay, previously taken by Spain.
In addition, under Article X of the treaty Spain ceded Gibraltar and Menorca 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. Great Britain imposed to Spain, under Article XIII, the preservation of the historical rights of Catalonia (given the Catalan support to the Habsburg cause, as well as to British and Dutch military), which, however, were abolished one year later (when Barcelona was finally occupied by the Franco-Spanish troops) pursuant to the Nueva Planta decrees issued by the Spanish Bourbon king.
In North America, France ceded to Great Britain its claims to Newfoundland and to the Hudson's Bay Company territories in Rupert's Land. They also ceded the Acadian colony of Nova Scotia. The formerly partitioned island of Saint Kitts was also ceded in its entirety to Britain. France was required to recognise British suzerainty over the Iroquois and commerce with the Far Indians was to be open to traders of all nations. France retained its other pre-war North American possessions, including Île-Saint-Jean (now Prince Edward Island), Saint Pierre and Miquelon, as well as Île Royale (now Cape Breton Island), on which it erected the Fortress of Louisbourg.
After the signing of the Utrecht treaties, the French continued to be at war with Emperor Charles VI and with the Holy Roman Empire itself until 1714, when hostilities, ongoing in the Rhineland, were ended with the treaties of Rastatt and Baden. 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.
Responses to the treaties
The treaty's territorial provisions did not go as far as the Whigs in Britain would have liked, considering that the French had made overtures for peace in 1706 and again in 1709. The Whigs considered themselves the heirs of the staunch anti-French policies of William III and the Duke of Marlborough. However, in the Parliament of 1710 the Tories had gained control of the House of Commons, and they wished for an end to Great Britain's participation in a European war. Queen Anne and her advisors had also come to agree.
The party in the administration of Robert Harley (created Earl of Oxford and Mortimer on 23 May 1711) and the Viscount Bolingbroke proved more flexible at the bargaining table and were characterised by the Whigs as "pro-French"; Oxford and Bolingbroke persuaded the Queen to create twelve new "Tory peers" to ensure ratification of the treaty in the House of Lords. The opponents of the treaty tried to rally support under the slogan of No Peace Without Spain.
Although the fate of the Spanish Netherlands in particular was of interest to the United Provinces, Dutch influence on the outcome of the negotiations was fairly insignificant, even though the talks were held on their territory. The French negotiator Melchior de Polignac taunted the Dutch with the scathing remark de vous, chez vous, sans vous, meaning that negotiations would be held "about you, around you, without you." The fact that Bolingbroke had secretly ordered the British commander, the Duke of Ormonde, to withdraw from the Allied forces before the Battle of Denain (informing the French but not the Allies), and the fact that they secretly arrived at separate peace with France was a fait accompli, made the objections of the Allies pointless. In any case, the Dutch achieved their condominium in the Austrian Netherlands with the Austro-Dutch Barrier Treaty of 1715.
Balance of power
The European concept of the balance of power, first mentioned in 1701 by Charles Davenant in Essays on the Balance of Power, became a common topic of debate during the war and the conferences that led to signing of the treaties. Boosted by 19 April 1709 issue of Daniel Defoe's A Review of the Affairs of France, a periodical that supported the Harley Ministry, the concept was a key factor in British negotiations, and was reflected in the final treaties. This theme would continue to be a significant factor in European politics until the time of the French Revolution (and was to resurface in the 19th century).
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- Disputed status of Gibraltar
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