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.
Bély 1990 is thoroughly grounded in the archives and is invaluable for providing the actual details of the meetings and an understanding of the diplomatic protocols and milieu. The book is very useful in setting the conferences in the context of early modern diplomacy and diplomatic practice. Bély 1992 is a much shorter treatment of the topic. Lucien Bély argues that the war marked the end of a certain French supremacy and that Utrecht established a solid European equilibrium. Ward 1908 pursues an Anglocentric approach and provides a rather overwhelming discussion of the settlement, not designed for the beginner. The author asserts that the peace settlement achieved the goal of checking the power of France. Pitt 1970 is a very useful and analytic summary of the pacification for both the general reader and the interested scholar. The author’s discussion begins earlier with the preliminaries of 1706. He sees the peace as essentially negative in that it checked the ambitions of both France and Austria and gave the system some stability. Weber 1891, based on archival material, is designed for the specialist interested in negotiations among the major powers. Onnekink and Bruin 2013 is an astute summary of the war and the peace. The catalogue of Bruin and Brinkman 2013 provides insights for both the general reader and the specialist. Landosle 1923 offers a French perspective on the negotiations at Baden. Weber 1890 provides a very detailed assessment of the negotiations at Rastatt, which the author views as “a comedy.”
Bély, Lucien. Espions et ambassadeurs au temps de Louis XIV. Paris: Fayard, 1990.
An invaluable and detailed guide to the negotiations preceding and during the Congress of Utrecht. Many picturesque details enliven this erudite study. Encyclopedic knowledge of the congress, its diplomats, and its spies that is set in the context of the time. Not for the uninitiated.
Bély, Lucien. Les relations internationales en Europe, XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992.
Good general introduction to the topic. Emphasizes political stabilization after the incessant conflicts of the 17th century.
Bruin, Renger de, and Maarten Brinkman, eds. Peace Was Made Here: The Treaties of Utrecht, Rastatt and Baden 1713–1714. Petersberg, Germany: Imhof, 2013.
Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Central Museum, and subsequently at Madrid, Rastatt, and Baden. Includes a description of the main exhibition pieces, beautiful illustrations, and nine essays by experts in the field on the war and the subsequent peace.
Landosle, Hyrvoix de. “Le Congrès de Bade-en-Suisse, 1714.” Revue des questions historiques 98 (January 1923): 33–64.
Detailed, anecdotal account of the negotiations from a French perspective. Exclusively French-language printed sources.
Onnekink, David, and Renger de Bruin. De Vrede van Utrecht (1713). Hilversum, The Netherlands: Verloren, 2013.
Very good general introduction to the peace that sets it in the European context with interesting illustrations.
Pitt, H. G. “The Pacification of Utrecht.” In The New Cambridge Modern History. Vol. 6, The Rise of Great Britain and Russia, 1688–1715/25. Edited by John S. Bromley, 446–479. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
This nuanced discussion begins with the preliminaries. Pitt contends that Viscount Bolingbroke secured “a lasting settlement for Europe and a series of exclusive advantages for Britain” (p. 471).
Ward, A. W. “The Peace of Utrecht and the Supplementary Pacifications.” In The Cambridge Modern History. Vol. 5, The Age of Louis XIV. Edited by A. W. Ward, 437–459. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1908.
A brief but useful summary of the provisions of the peace and the supplementary pacifications. Essentially a positive assessment that emphasizes that the treaties established the basis for peace for more than a generation. Not designed for the unsophisticated student. A bit dated.
Weber, Ottocar. “Der Friede von Rastatt.” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 8 (1890): 273–310.
Underscores French gains at the treaty, especially the retention of Landau and the restitution of the Wittelsbach electors. Impressive range of sources. Very dense.
Weber, Ottocar. Der Friede von Utrecht: Verhandlungen zwischen England, Frankreich, dem Kaiser und den Generalstaaten, 1710–1713. Gotha: Friedrich Andreas Perthes, 1891.
A traditional political and diplomatic narrative limited to the major powers.
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