Treaty of Utrecht

Topics: Treaty of Utrecht, Great power, Superpower Pages: 9 (3182 words) Published: March 11, 2011
In the fall of 1709, the notoriously brutal Battle of Malplaquet drew the war of Spanish Succession into a stalemate. In Austria, Charles VI succeeded the Austrian throne; this potential Habsburg hegemony, together with the invincible French Army provided the Allies neither feasibility nor desirability of conquering Spain. The Dutch Republic was discontent towards England about the commercial benefits and the Barrier Treaty; In England, Tories who were not in favor of continental warfare came into power. On top of these political unrests were there serious financial debts suffered by almost all European states involved in the war. A peace was needed. The Peace of Utrecht was negotiated and finalized on April 1713. This treaty’s binding power that compelled major European powers in equilibrium was coined as “the Balance of Power”. The Peace of Utrecht was significant in the course of state relations because it marked the start of the “balance of power” doctrine. However, as the word “balance” had such ambiguities, more attention was needed for the implication behind the notion of “balance of power.” While the Peace of Utrecht did achieve a balance among major powers, it was not truly an equilibrium system of its own, but rather the pretence of an application of the dominant power, England. In other words, the balance of power established by the Peace of Utrecht was not a true balance since the ability of adjusting and maintaining it was held by one major power, in this case, England. England already had the dominance in the Grand Alliance as early as in the beginning of the peace negotiation. Learned that the Tories government opened a secret peace negotiation with France in the summer of 1710 and that Bolingbroke issued the Restraining Orders in 1712, the Allies were shocked and outraged. Bolingbroke was fully aware of this consequence and wanted to “teach” Europe that none of them has the ability to hold the war without England. Although the Allies were outraged by England breaking the Grand Alliance Treaty, they simply could not do anything but “submit” to the agreements proposed by England and France, and further “submitting” to the peace. The so called “balance of power” started out with an “unbalanced peace negotiation”. Although the United Provinces, the Austrians and the Germanic princes tried to strive for their own terms, the effort was futile because their minor, even negative contribution in the war did not provide them the ground for such demand. In the war, England was almost a “cat’s paw” according to Swift in The Conduct of the Allies: the United Provinces, escaping their own responsibilities of the war, expected England to bear the burden of finance and man power; in Austria, Joseph I cheated on the Allies by diverting the resources subsidized by England to fight in Hungary. Thus apparently, the United Provinces was not likely to get the commercial concession and the Barrier claims it wanted from Spain. Austria did not have the ground for any claim either, due to such unreliability as an ally. Additionally, Charles VI’s personal obsession of the Spanish throne was no longer possible to achieve given the fear of the unification of the two Habsburgs. England therefore, provided its great contribution in the war both financially and militarily, was able to negotiate terms towards its own advantages, and to turn the interest of the Grand Alliance into that of England’s own. England’s influence of the peace in Europe was exerted through interlocking territories, naval supremacy, political victory and financial dominance. One thing that was established under the Peace of Utrecht was the interlocking territories of European states, providing counter-balance which was needed for peace. The territory scheme lay out by the Peace of Utrecht seemed to well ensure the stability and peace of Europe after the war, but the tranquility was ostensible: the plans were actually England’s manipulation towards its own benefit....

Cited: by Edward Vose Gulick, Europe’s Classical Balance of Power (New York: Cornell University Press, 1955), 53.
[ 31 ]. Martin Wight, “The Balance of Power” in Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics, ed. Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, 149-75 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1966), 151.
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