Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)


The second treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (or peace of Aix-la-Chapelle) was signed at the end of the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, which had been meeting in this city since March 1748 and which put an end to the war of the Austrian Succession; the congress, whose negotiations lasted from April 24 to October 18, 1748. It saw the emergence of a new non-signatory power (at the federal level of the Holy Roman Empire), Prussia.

We speak of the second Treaty of Aachen, but in fact there are several international instruments to be classified under this term: a preparatory treaty (April 30, 1748), the final text signed between the three powers, France, Great Britain and the United Provinces (of August 2, signed on October 18, 1748), accession to the treaty by Sardinia, Spain, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Modena, texts that condition the existence, in the international or internal order, of the treaty and the existence of secret and separate clauses, conventions of execution (Nice and Brussels… ) which allow the application of the clauses of the treaty, in particular with regard to prisoners and damages.

As a result of the Breda conferences, the kingdoms of France and Great Britain were the two of the three signatory powers that succeeded in imposing their views at the end of the negotiations, the others merely following or bowing to the decisions.

The treaty of Aachen is a definitive peace treaty containing 24 articles and two separate articles. The clauses are various and concern as much the territorial cessions, as the prisoners, the captures of war and the damages of war.

The terms of the treaty are:

During the conflict, the Franco-Prussian and Anglo-Austrian alliance systems had demonstrated their fragility. Apart from Prussia, which appeared to be the main beneficiary by incorporating Silesia into the kingdom, the peace satisfied no one. The French felt that they had fought for the King of Prussia, the commercial and colonial disputes between Great Britain, France and Spain were not settled, Austria saved the imperial crown, but lost Silesia and its preponderance in Germany and Italy. The kingdom of Spain later objected to the clauses concerning the asiento, and the treaty of Madrid dealt with this point, Britain renouncing it for the sum of 100,000 pounds.

Nothing was settled. The treaty did not establish a stable peace and the Seven Years” War appears as a logical continuation of the conflict.

The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was, however, celebrated in France and England with festivities that included works composed for the purpose by the most prominent composers of each kingdom: in Paris, Naïs, “Opera for Peace” by Jean-Philippe Rameau, and in London, Music for the Royal Fireworks by Georg Friedrich Handel.

Territorial consequences of the treaty (mapping)

The Nice Convention provides for the implementation of the Treaty of Aachen.

Map of territorial gains in northern Italy after the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle.

Article VI of the treaty provides for the return to the States General of the United Provinces of the territorial conquests made by the sovereign Louis XV, the strongholds including Berg-op-Zoom and Maastricht mentioned by name.

Article VI of the treaty provides for the restitution of the territorial conquests of the king of France to her Majesty “the Empress” Queen of Hungary, conquests made in the Austrian Netherlands.

This article also provides that the cities and places in the Netherlands, whose sovereignty belongs to the empress-queen of Hungary and Bohemia, in which the High Powers (NB: the Republic of the United Provinces) have the right of garrison, will be evacuated to the troops of the Republic, in the same space of time.

This article also provides that all restitutions and cessions of the said cities, forts and places, will be made with all the artillery and munitions of war, which were found there on the day of their occupation in the course of the war, by the powers which have to make the said cessions and restitutions, and this according to the inventories which were made, or which will be delivered in good faith, on both sides, well understood that with regard to the pieces of artillery which were transported elsewhere to be recast, or for other uses, they will be replaced by the same number of the same caliber, or metal weights, of course also that the places of Charleroi, Mons, Ath, Oudenaerde and Menin of which one demolished the external works (restitution of the fortified place, in the style proper to Vauban, engineer in charge of the fortifications in the XVIIth century, destruction of the counter-guards of the end of the XVIIth century and the XVIIIth century) will be restored without artillery, nothing will be required for the costs and expenses used for the fortifications of all the others, nor for other public or particular works, which were made in the countries which must be restored (ex construction of stables… ).

Before leaving Aix, the count of Kaunitz (Austria) and Monsieur du Theil (France) concluded, on December 26, a convention by which, France committed itself to evacuate on the spot the Netherlands except Mons, Saint-Ghislain, Charleroi and Ath, and the remainder of Hainaut, which it was to keep in deposit until the seigniory of Arad in Hungary, had been returned to the duke of Modène, that the Genoese capital placed at the bank of Vienna had been restored… The terms of the evacuation were changed by a new convention of execution, concluded in Brussels, on January 11, 1749.

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  1. Traité d”Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)
  2. Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)
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