1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Utrecht, Treaty of

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25476791911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 27 — Utrecht, Treaty ofArthur William Holland

UTRECHT, TREATY OF, the general name given to the important series of treaties which in 1713 and 1714 concluded the great European war of the Spanish Succession (q.v.), and by which inter alia England obtained possession of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Gibraltar.

Worsted, mainly through the genius of Marlborough, in his efforts to secure the whole of the great Spanish monarchy for his grandson, Philip, duke of Anjou, Louis XIV. made overtures for peace in 1706 and again in 1709. These were rejected, and failure also attended the negotiations between France and the United Provinces which took place at Gertruydenberg in 1710, negotiations only entered upon by the Dutch after they had by a treaty with England (October 1709) secured a guarantee that they would obtain the coveted barrier of fortresses against France. But matters changed greatly during 1710 and 1711. In England in August and September 1710, the Tories, the party of peace, succeeded the Whigs, the party of war and the inheritors of the tradition of William III., in the conduct of affairs. In the Empire in April 1711, the archduke Charles, Philip's rival for the throne of Spain, succeeded his brother Joseph I. as ruler of Austria and became prospective emperor, and England and the United Provinces, having waged a long and costly war to prevent the union of the crowns of France and Spain, were equally averse from seeing Spain and Austria under the same ruler. Moreover, the allies realized at last that it was impossible to dislodge Philip from Spain, and all the peoples were groaning under the expenses and the sufferings of the war. France and England came to terms, and the preliminaries of peace were signed in London in October 1711, their basis being a tacit acquiescence in the partition of the Spanish monarchy.

The congress opened at Utrecht on the 29th of January 1712, the English representatives being John Robinson, bishop of Bristol, and Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford. Reluctantly the United Provinces accepted the preliminaries and sent representatives, but the emperor refused to do so until he was assured that these preliminaries were not binding. This assurance was given, and in February the imperial representatives made their appearance. As Philip was not yet recognized, as king, Spain did not at first send plenipotentiaries, but the duke of Savoy sent one, and Portugal was also represented.

One of the first questions discussed was the nature of the guarantees to be given by France and Spain that these crowns would be kept separate, and matters did not make much progress until after the 10th of July 1712, when Philip signed a renunciation. Then, England and France having concluded a truce, the pace was quickened and the main' treaties were signed on the 11th of April 1713.

By the treaty between England and France Louis XIV. recognized the Protestant succession in England and undertook to give no further aid to the Stuarts. France ceded to England Newfoundland, Nova Scotia or Acadia, the island of St Kitts or St Christopher, and the Hudson's Bay Territory (“sinum et fretum de Hudson, una cum omnibus terris, maribus, maritimis, fluviis, locisque, in dicto sinu et freto sitis”), and promised to demolish the fortifications of Dunkirk and to fill up its harbour. A commercial treaty signed between the two countries on the same day provided that each should allow the other the most favoured nation treatment, while each gave up the claim to the indiscriminate seizure of shipping which had been practised during the war.

The treaty between France and the United Provinces was mainly concerned with securing the barrier of fortresses. These arrangements were somewhat complicated and to a large extent provisional, as Austria and Bavaria, two countries which were deeply interested in the fate of the Netherlands, had not yet assented to the terms of peace. By a commercial treaty concluded on the same day, France gave to the Dutch commercial privileges similar to those enjoyed by England. Other treaties concluded at the same time were between France and Savoy, France and Prussia, and France and Portugal. By the first the duke of Savoy regained Savoy and Nice, taken from him during the war, and France undertook to obtain for him the island of Sicily and the title of king. By the second Prussia secured some small additions of territory, including part of Gelderland and Neuchâtel; in return France definitely and finally obtained the principality of Orange. It is interesting to note that as a constituent of the Empire Prussia was still fighting against France. The treaty between France and Portugal mainly concerned the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, her claim to these being recognized by France.

Other treaties were signed at Utrecht between Spain and the allies, Philip now concluding these as the recognized and lawful king of Spain. On the 13th of July 1713 a treaty was signed between England and Spain, which embodied certain commercial arrangements previously made between the two countries. Spain ceded to England Gibraltar and Minorca and promised to give up Sicily to Savoy. She gave also to England the monopoly for thirty years of the lucrative slave trade with Spanish America, hitherto enjoyed by France: this was the famous Asiento treaty. Finally, there was an article concerning the inhabitants of Catalonia, who had fought bravely for Charles of Austria, and who had a large claim upon the protection of England. However, the protection granted to them was a mere sham, and the Catalans were soon the victims of the revenge of Philip of Spain. The peace between Spain and the United Provinces was signed on the 26th of June 1714, but the conclusion of the one between Spain and Portugal was delayed until the following February. The former was concerned mainly with commercial matters, Spain giving the United Provinces the treatment of a most favoured nation, except as regards Spanish America. The latter dealt with the frontier between the two countries and with the colony of St Sacrament in Uruguay, which was transferred to Spain.

The treaty of Utrecht also provided some compensation for the emperor Charles VI. as soon as he surrendered his claim to Spain. It was arranged that he should receive Naples and Milan, and also the Spanish Netherlands, henceforward known as the Austrian Netherlands.

But the general pacification was still incomplete, as France and the Empire continued the war, albeit somewhat languidly. It was not long, however, before Charles VI. realized how inadequate were his forces, unsupported by those of England and of Holland, to meet the armies of France, and towards the close of 1713 he was for the first time seriously inclined to consider conditions of peace. Accordingly, his representative, Prince Eugene, met the French marshal Villars at Rastatt in November 1713, and here, after negotiations had been broken off and again resumed, peace was made on the 7th of March 1714, Charles VI. concluding the treaty without waiting for the assent of the different states of the Empire. This consent, however, was necessary, and a little later the representatives of some of the princes of the Empire met those of France at Baden, where, on the 7th of September 1714, the treaty of Baden, the last of the treaties included in the general peace of Utrecht, was signed. This dealt entirely with the question of the frontier between France and the Empire, which was restored as it was before the outbreak of the war except that France gained Landau. One important matter dealt with at Utrecht remains to be mentioned. A second barrier treaty between England and the United Provinces was signed on the 30th of January 1713, and a third treaty signed at Antwerp on the 15th of November 1715 clinched the matter. Seven fortresses were to be garrisoned by a total of 35,000 men, three-fifths of the cost being borne by the imperial government and the remainder by the United Provinces.

The treaty of Utrecht is second to none in importance in English history, Its provisions were a most potent factor in assisting the expansion of England’s colonial empire and also in the building up of the country’s commercial greatness. In the domestic politics of the 18th century, too, the peace has a great and recurring importance. Its terms were bitterly assailed by the Whigs, and after the accession of George I. four of its Tory authors, Bolingbroke, Oxford, Ormonde and Strafford, were impeached for concluding it, the charges brought against them being that they had corresponded with the queen’s enemies and had betrayed the honour and interest of their own country, while the abandonment of the Catalans was not forgotten.

The text of the treaty of Utrecht is published as the Actes, mémoires et autres pièces authentiques concernant la paix d’Utrecht (Utrecht, 1714–1715); and by C. W. von Koch and F. Scholl in the Histoire abrégée des traités (1817–1818). As far as it concerns the party politics of England, there is much about the peace in Dean Swift’s works. See also C. Giraud, La Paix d’Utrecht (Paris, 1847); I. S. Leadam, Political History of England 1702–1760 (1909); A. W. Ward in the Cambridge Modern History, vol. v. (1908), and the State Trials for the proceedings against the impeached English ministers. But perhaps the most valuable work on the whole peace is O. Weber’s Der Friede von Utrecht. Verharldlungen zwischen England, Frankreich, dem Kaiser und den Generalstaaten 1710–1713 (Gotha, 1891).  (A. W. H.*)