"There was never a good war or a bad peace."

"There was never a good war or a bad peace." (Benjamin Franklin)

11 April 1613: Today, 300 years ago, the Treaty of Utrecht, establishing the Peace of Utrecht, was signed by Louis XIV of France, Spain’s new Bourbon King Philip V and representatives of the Grand Alliance of Great Britain, Portugal, Savoy and the Dutch United Provinces. After twelve years the War of the Spanish Succession was over for most of the belligerents.

What began as a conflict over who was to succeed the last Spanish King from the House of Habsburg, an Austrian Habsburg or a French Bourbon and ended with Spain, once tops among the European Empires, reduced almost to a secondary power, France didn’t achieve a personal union between the two countries, but at least wasn’t pressed any longer between a Habsburg Spain and the Habsburg-dominated Holy Roman Empire. The British laid the foundation for their colonial success and came up with the idea of a balance of power on the European continent which had to be maintained at all costs and kept Gibraltar. And even though Louis XIV hegemonic aspirations on the continent were contained for the moment, the loss of territory remained negligible, even in North America. Queen Anne’s War, as the conflict was known on the other side of the pond, did not change conditions until the Seven Years’ War half a century later.

With dominance at sea and Marlborough’s famous victories at Blenheim (1704), Ramilies (1706) and Oudenarde (1708), Great Britain felt to be a winner of the long war and Handel’s “Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate” celebrated another cornerstone in the foundation in its rise to be a global power.

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