This year, 2013, in the region where I live, we celebrate that 300 years ago, the Treaty of Utrecht was signed. Now, I must admit to my shame (as I almost live in Utrecht), that I hardly knew anything about this Treaty, leading to the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. I think not many of you know about this episode of history either, so I thought this to be an interesting subject for my 49th '100 things challenge'-post.
The Treaty ended the War of Spanish Succession, which had raged all over Europe between from 1701 onwards. It started with the death of Charles II, King of Spain. Charles II did not have an heir and the Kingdom of Spain (with dominions in Italy, Asia and the Americas) was a force to be reckoned with. Multiple candidates to inherit the throne of Spain stood up. First and foremost of this was the heir apparent to the French throne: dauphin Louis. Another candidate was Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor of the Habsburg empire. Both these men were cousins in the first degree to Charles II, but for both candidates a similar problem to their inheriting the Spanish crown arose: it would combine two large empires under one crown (either France-Spain or Austria-Spain) and offset the precarious balance of power in Europe.
Forces supporting either candidate fought all over Europe. Great Britain and the Dutch Republic sided with the Holy Roman Empire, while Bavaria fought with the French. Battles were won and lost by both sides of the argument, with none gaining the upper hand. In 1712, the new Conservative British parliament, seeing that a quick victory was unlikely, started negotiations.
Why Utrecht was chosen to be the place of this negotiations is not entirely sure. Perhaps because the Dutch Republic wás a part of the conflict, but not a very powerful player, so negotiating here would not humiliate or exalt any of the parties. Previous treaties had been signed in Dutch cities, such as the Treaty of Nijmegen (1678) and Treaty of Rijswijk (1697). Interestingly, the 1,5 years of the negotiations were a golden time for the city of Utrecht. A great number of parties, dinners and cultural performances took place to keep all the international guests satisfied. Economic growth and employment soared. The Calvinistic city of Utrecht had a ban on theater, but for the duration of the negotiations, this was lifted!
The most important provisions in the Treaty of Utrecht were that Philip (grandson to the King of France, son to dauphin Louis) would become King of Spain, but had to renounce his rights to the throne of France. There were also territorial changes to Spain's empire, the Spanish Netherlands and Kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia were given to the Holy Roman Empire, Gibraltar and Minorca to Great Britain.
Georg Friedrich Händel wrote a festive piece of music to commemorate this Treaty: the Utrecht Te DeumNow I'm just happy that the inheritance of 'our' Dutch throne is a lot simpler and we have an interesting and festive day tomorrow with the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander!
As you can see, I'm nearing the midway-point of the 100 things challenge! To make the 50th post a little more special, I'll let you choose the subject! Be as broad or as specific as you like in the comments!