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Section 5: War of Spanish Succession

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    The Question of Spanish Succession

    The question of Spanish succession at the turn of the 18th century was linked directly to the question of balance of powers in Europe, and led to a major European war that ended the European hegemony of France.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    Describe the reasons why there was conflict over who should take the Spanish throne

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

    • In the late 1690s, the declining health of childless King Charles II of Spain deepened the ongoing dispute over his succession. The main rivals for the Spanish inheritance were the descendants of Louis XIV of France and the Austrian Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, but the matter was of the utmost importance to Europe as a whole.
    • In 1698 and 1700, Louis XIV and William III of England attempted to partition Spain in the effort to avoid a war. Charles II of Spain opposed partition and on his deathbed offered the empire to Philip, Duke of Anjou and Louis’s grandson, who became King Philip V Spain.
    • Although most European rulers accepted Philip as king, tensions mounted, mostly because of a series of Louis’s decisions. Britain, the Dutch Republic, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the
      petty German states formed another Grand Alliance and declared war on France in 1702.
    • With losses, victories, and significant financial costs on both sides, as well as a fragile Grand Alliance, French and British ministers prepared the groundwork for a peace conference, and in 1712 Britain ceased combat operations.
    • By the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht  (1713) and the Treaty of Rastatt (1714), the Spanish empire was partitioned between the major and minor powers. The Austrians received most of Spain’s former European realms, but the Duke of Anjou retained peninsular Spain and Spanish America, where, after renouncing his claim to the French succession, he reigned as King Philip V.
    • 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.

    Key Terms

    • Treaty of London: A 1700 treaty, known also as the Second Partition Treaty, attempting to restore the Pragmatic Sanction following the death of Duke Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria. The Pragmatic Sanction had undermined the First Partition Treaty (the Treaty of Hague). Under the new treaty, Archduke Charles (later Charles VI), the second son of Emperor Leopold I, was to become king of Spain when Charles II died, and acquire her oversees colonies.
    • Treaty of Utrecht: A series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of the Spanish Succession in the Dutch city of Utrecht in 1713. The treaties between several European states, including Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy, and the Dutch Republic, helped end the war.
    • Treaty of the Hague: A 1698 treaty, known also as the First Partition Treaty, between England and France. The accord attempted to resolve who would inherit the Spanish throne, proposing that Duke Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria be the heir. Moreover, the agreement proposed that Louis, le Grand Dauphin, would get Naples, Sicily, and Tuscany, and Archduke Charles, the younger son of Emperor Leopold I, would get the Spanish Netherlands. Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, would take Milan, which in turn ceded Lorraine and Bar to the Dauphin.
    • 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.
    • Grand Alliance: 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 organization 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.

    Background

    In the late 1690s, the declining health of childless King Charles II of Spain deepened the ongoing dispute over his succession. Spain was no longer a hegemonic power in Europe but the Spanish Empire—a vast confederation that covered the globe and was still the largest of the European overseas empires—remained resilient. Ultimately, the main rivals for the Spanish inheritance were the heirs and descendants of the Bourbon King Louis XIV of France and the Austrian Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. However, the inheritance was so vast that its transference would dramatically increase either French or Austrian power which, due to the implied threat of European hegemony, was of the utmost importance to Europe as a whole.

    Rival Claims and Partitions

    The French claim derived from Louis XIV’s mother, Anne of Austria (the older sister of Philip IV of Spain), and his wife, Maria Theresa (Philip IV’s eldest daughter). France had the stronger claim, as it originated from the eldest daughters in two generations. However, their renunciation of succession rights complicated matters, although in the case of Maria Theresa, the renunciation was considered null and void owing to Spain’s breach of her marriage contract with Louis. In contrast, no renunciations tainted the claims of the Emperor Leopold I’s son Charles, Archduke of Austria, who was a grandson of Philip III’s youngest daughter, Maria Anna. The English and Dutch feared that a French or Austrian-born Spanish king would threaten the balance of power, and thus preferred the Bavarian Prince Joseph Ferdinand, a grandson of Leopold I through his first wife, Margaret Theresa of Spain (the younger daughter of Philip IV).

    In an attempt to avoid war, Louis signed the Treaty of the Hague with William III of England in 1698. This agreement divided Spain’s Italian territories between Louis’s son le Grand Dauphin and the Archduke Charles, with the rest of the empire awarded to Joseph Ferdinand. The signatories, however, omitted to consult Charles II, who was passionately opposed to the dismemberment of his empire. In 1699, he re-confirmed his 1693 will that named Joseph Ferdinand as his sole successor, but the latter died six months later. In 1700, Louis and William III concluded a fresh partitioning agreement, the Treaty of London. It allocated Spain, the Low Countries, and the Spanish colonies to Archduke Charles. The Dauphin would receive all of Spain’s Italian territories. On his deathbed in 1700, Charles II unexpectedly offered the entire empire to the Dauphin’s second son, Philip, Duke of Anjou, provided it remained undivided. Anjou was not in the direct line of French succession, thus his accession would not cause a Franco-Spanish union. Louis eventually decided to accept Charles II’s will, and Philip, Duke of Anjou, became King Philip V of Spain.

    Although most European rulers accepted Philip as king, tensions mounted, mostly because of a series of Louis’s decisions. Louis’s actions enraged Britain and the Dutch Republic. With the Holy Roman Emperor and the petty German states, they formed another Grand Alliance. French diplomacy, however, secured Bavaria, Portugal, and Savoy as Franco-Spanish allies. Around the same time, Louis decided to acknowledge James Stuart, the son of James II, as king of England on the latter’s death, infuriating William III. While William died in March 1702, the Austrians, the Dutch, and English allies formally declared war in May 1702.

     

    War of the Spanish Succession

     

    By 1708, the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy had secured victory in the Spanish Netherlands and in Italy and defeated Louis XIV’s ally Bavaria. The Allies suffered a Pyrrhic victory at the 1709 Battle of Malplaquet, with 21,000 casualties, twice that of the French. French forces elsewhere continued to fight despite their defeats. The Allies were definitively expelled from central Spain by the Franco-Spanish victories at the Battles of Villaviciosa and Brihuega in 1710. France faced invasion, but the unity of the allies broke first. With the Grand Alliance defeated in Spain and its casualties and costs mounting and aims diverging, the Tories came to power in Great Britain in 1710 and resolved to end the war. Eventually, France recovered its military pride with the decisive victory at Denain in 1712. Yet French and British ministers prepared the groundwork for a peace conference, and in 1712 Britain ceased combat operations. The Dutch, Austrians, and German states fought on to strengthen their own negotiating position, but, defeated by Marshal Villars, they were soon compelled to accept Anglo-French mediation.

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    Battle of Villaviciosa by Jean Alaux, 1836: Philip V of Spain and the Duke of Vendôme pictured after the victory at the 1710. 

     

    Peace Treaties

     

    The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht recognized Louis XIV’s grandson Philip, Duke of Anjou, as King of Spain (as Philip V), thus confirming the succession stipulated in the will of Charles II. However, Philip was compelled to renounce for himself and his descendants any right to the French throne. 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 recognized over the lands between the Amazon and Oyapock rivers, in Brazil. 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. In North America, France ceded to Great Britain its claims to Newfoundland, the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Acadian colony of Nova Scotia, and the formerly partitioned island of Saint Kitts.

    After the signing of the Utrecht treaties, the French continued to be at war with Emperor Charles VI and with the Holy Roman Empire until 1714, when hostilities were 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.

    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.

     

    William of Orange and the Grand Alliance

     

    William III’s main goals in the conflict over the Spanish succession were to ensure the Protestant accession in England and curb the power of France and Louis XIV.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    Explain William’s stake in the War of the Spanish Succession and the goals of the Grand Alliance

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

    • As William III’s life drew towards its conclusion, he, like many other European rulers, was concerned with the question of succession to the throne of Spain. He sought to prevent the Spanish inheritance from going to the descendants of either Louis XIV or Leopold I, as he feared this would upset the European balance of power.
    • Fearing the growing strength of the Holy Roman Empire, Louis XIV turned to William. The two signed two treaties partitioning Spain, but Charles II of Spain’s decision to choose Louis’s grandson as his successor made Louis ignore his treaty with England.
    • While the Tory-dominated House of Commons was keen to prevent further conflict, to William III, France’s growing
      strength made war inevitable. From his perspective, losing the hard-won securities overturned the work of the last twenty years.
    • As tensions mounted, Britain and the Dutch Republic grew enraged by Louis’s actions and decisions. With the Holy Roman Emperor and the petty German states, they formed another Grand Alliance. Securing the Protestant succession and curbing Louis’s ambitions was recognized by the Grand Alliance as one of England’s main war aims.
    • Before the War of the Spanish Succession was even declared, William died. His successor, Anne, continued William’s policies to assure the Protestant succession in England and curb the French hegemony.
    • The War of the Spanish Succession resulted in the partition of the Spanish Monarchy, which secured the balance of power and helped to regulate the relations between the major European powers over the coming century.

    Key Terms

    • Grand Alliance: 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 organization 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.
    • Treaty of London: A 1700 treaty, known also as the Second Partition Treaty, attempting to restore the Pragmatic Sanction following the death of Duke Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria. The Pragmatic Sanction had undermined the First Partition Treaty (the Treaty of Hague). Under the new Treaty, Archduke Charles (later Charles VI), the second son of the Emperor Leopold I, was to become king of Spain when Charles II died, and acquire her oversees colonies.
    • Treaty of Rastatt: A peace treaty between France and Austria, concluded in March 1714 in the Baden city of Rastatt, that put an end to the state of war between them following the War of the Spanish Succession. The treaty followed the earlier Treaty of Utrecht of April 1713, which ended hostilities between France and Spain on the one hand, and Britain and the Dutch Republic on the other hand. A third treaty at Baden was required to end the hostilities between France and the Holy Roman Empire.
    • Treaty of Utrecht: A series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of the Spanish Succession in the Dutch city of Utrecht in 1713. The treaties between several European states, including Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy, and the Dutch Republic, helped to end the war.
    • Treaty of Hague: A 1698 treaty, known also as the First Partition Treaty, between England and France. The accord attempted to resolve who would inherit the Spanish throne, proposing that Duke Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria be the heir. Moreover, the agreement proposed that Louis, le Grand Dauphin, would get Naples, Sicily, and Tuscany, and Archduke Charles, the younger son of Emperor Leopold I, would get the Spanish Netherlands. Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, would take Milan, which in turn ceded Lorraine and Bar to the Dauphin.

     

    William III of England and the Spanish Succession

     

    William III (1650–1702) was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Dutch Stadtholder (de facto hereditary head of state) from 1672, and King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 until his death. As his life drew towards its conclusion, William, like many other European rulers, was concerned with the question of succession to the throne of Spain, which brought with it vast territories in Italy, the Low Countries, and the New World. The king of Spain, Charles II, had no prospect of having children, and among his closest relatives were Louis XIV and Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. William sought to prevent the Spanish inheritance from going to either monarch, as he feared it would upset the balance of power.

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    King William III of England, portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1680s, National Galleries, Scotland

    A Protestant, William participated in several wars against the powerful Catholic king of France, Louis XIV, in coalition with Protestant and Catholic powers in Europe. Many Protestants heralded him as a champion of their faith.

     

    Partitions

     

    Fearing the growing strength of the Holy Roman Empire, Louis XIV turned to William, his long-standing Protestant rival. England and the Dutch Republic had their own commercial, strategic, and political interests within the Spanish empire, and they were eager to return to peaceful commerce. Louis and William sought to solve the problem of the Spanish inheritance through negotiation based on the principle of partition (at first without prior reference to the Spanish or Austrian courts), to take effect after the death of Charles II.

    William and Louis agreed to the First Partition Treaty (Treaty of Hague), which provided for the division of the Spanish Empire: Duke Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria would obtain Spain, while France and the Holy Roman Emperor would divide the remaining territories between them. However, when Joseph Ferdinand died of smallpox, the issue re-opened. In 1700, the two rulers agreed to the Second Partition Treaty (Treaty of London), under which the territories in Italy would pass to a son of the king of France and the other Spanish territories would be inherited by a son of the Holy Roman Emperor. This arrangement infuriated both the Spanish, who still sought to prevent the dissolution of their empire, and the Holy Roman Emperor, to whom the Italian territories were much more useful than the other lands. Unexpectedly, Charles II willed all Spanish territories to Philip, a grandson of Louis XIV. The French conveniently ignored the Second Partition Treaty and claimed the entire Spanish inheritance.

     

    William III’s Stand

     

    The news that Louis XIV had accepted Charles II’s will and that the Second Partition Treaty was dead was a personal blow to William III. However, after the exertions of the Nine Years’ War, the Tory-dominated House of Commons was keen to prevent further conflict and restore normal commercial activity. Yet to William III, France’s growing strength made war inevitable. England also had its own interests in the Spanish Netherlands, and ministers recognized the potential danger posed by an enemy established to the east of the Strait of Dover who, taking advantage of favorable wind and tide, could threaten the British Isles. From William III’s perspective, losing the hard-won securities overturned the work of the last twenty years.

    Although the French king’s ambitions and motives were not fully known, English ministers worked on the assumption that Louis XIV would seek to expand his territory and direct and dominate Spanish affairs. With the threat of a single power dominating Europe and overseas trade, London now undertook to support William III’s efforts to reduce the power of France. As tensions mounted, Britain and the Dutch Republic grew enraged by Louis’s actions and decisions. With the Holy Roman Emperor and the petty German states, they formed another Grand Alliance. This European coalition, consisting at various times of various European states, was originally founded in 1686 as the League of Augsburg. It was formed in an attempt to halt Louis XIV’s expansionist policies. In 1701, it went into a second phase.

    Even after the formation of the Grand Alliance, the French king continued to antagonize his European rivals. Around the same time as the Alliance was formed, the Catholic James II of England (VII of Scotland)—exiled in Saint-Germain since the Glorious Revolution—died, and Louis XIV recognized James II’s Catholic son, James, as King James III of England. The French court insisted that granting James the title of King was a mere formality, but William and English ministers were indignant. Securing the Protestant succession was soon recognized by the Grand Alliance as one of England’s main war aims.

     

    The War of the Spanish Succession

     

    However, before the War of the Spanish Succession was even declared, William died. Anne, Mary II’s younger sister and William’s sister-in-law through his marriage to Mary, ascended to the British throne and at once assured the Privy Council of her two main aims: the maintenance of the Protestant succession and the reduction of the power of France. By the same token, Anne continued William’s policies, and many leading statesmen of William’s later years remained in office, which turned out fundamental to the success of the Grand Alliance in the early stages of the war.

    The Austrians, the Dutch, and English allies formally declared war in May 1702. By 1708 the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy had secured victory in the Spanish Netherlands and in Italy, and had defeated Louis XIV’s ally Bavaria. France faced invasion, but the unity of the allies broke first. With the Grand Alliance defeated in Spain and its casualties and costs mounting and aims diverging, the Tories came to power in Great Britain in 1710 and resolved to end the war. French and British ministers prepared the groundwork for a peace conference, and in 1712 Britain ceased combat operations. The Dutch, Austrians, and German states fought on to strengthen their own negotiating position, but, defeated by Marshal Villars, they were soon compelled to accept Anglo-French mediation. By the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) and the Treaty of Rastatt (1714), the Spanish empire was partitioned between the major and minor powers. The Austrians received most of Spain’s former European realms, but the Duke of Anjou retained peninsular Spain and Spanish America, where, after renouncing his claim to the French succession, he reigned as King Philip V. The European balance of power was assured.

     

    The Peace of Utrecht

     

    The Treaty of Utrecht, which initiated the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, strengthened the balance of power in Europe by securing two major goals: Louis XIV’s acknowledgement of the Protestant succession in England, and safeguards to ensure that the French and Spanish thrones remained separate.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    Describe the terms of the Peace of Utrecht and their significance across Europe

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • 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.

    Key Terms

    • 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.
    • Grand Alliance: 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.
    • 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.
    • Asiento: 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.

    Peace Talks

    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.

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    First edition of the the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht between Great Britain and Spain in Spanish (left), and a later edition in Latin and English

    The treaties, signed in the Dutch city of Utrecht, were concluded between the representatives of Louis XIV of France and his grandson Philip V of Spain 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.

    Aftermath

    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.

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