Utrecht Agreement

During the winter of 1708/1709, after a series of defeats, the King of France was ready to enter into serious negotiations. His refusal to promise help to his own grandson, Philip V, if he refused to cede the Spanish throne, prevented a deal. The conservative victory in the British elections of 1710, which led to an alienation of the Dutch Republic, and the accession to the throne of Archduke Charles as Charles VI (1711-1740) opened the door to a Franco-British compromise. The basis of this compromise was the maintenance of the balance of power by preventing a union between the French and Spanish monarchies and by sharing the Spanish monarchy. The Peace of Utrecht/Rastatt/Baden divided the Spanish monarchy. While Philipp V guarded Spain and the Spanish colonies, Italian and Belgian possessions largely went to the Austrian Habsburgs. But the crucial piece of the puzzle was the agreement that the French and Spanish monarchies would never be united between one person. To do this, Philipp V had to cede all his rights to the throne of France, while the princes who, after him, were on the rank for the French and Spanish successions, had to cede their rights to the throne of Spain. After concluding a secret provisional agreement with Versailles in late 1711, London forced its reluctant Dutch allies to convene a universal peace conference to be held in early 1712 in Utrecht. After more than a year of negotiations – most of them bilaterally between London and Versailles – the first major peace agreements were signed in Utrecht on 11 April 1713 (notably that between France and Great Britain, 27 STCs 475).

As at other ”universal” peace conferences, peace was not concluded in a multilateral instrument, but in a series of bilateral peace agreements, some of which were supplemented by a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation. The peace agreements between Spain and Great Britain (28 STCs 295) and between Spain and Savoy (28 STCs 269) followed on 13 July 1713. Between the time and February 1715, several other contracts were concluded in Utrecht. On March 6, 1714, Louis XIV also reached peace with the Austrian Habsburgs near Rastatt (29 CTS 1) and with the Holy Roman Empire near Baden on September 7, 1714 (29 CTS 141). It should indeed be noted that direct references to the balance of power remain relatively rare in eighteenth-century treaties and in almost all cases refer to questions of dynastic succession. . . .

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