Scene in the Writing Cabinet, exhibition in Rastatt Residential Palace 2014.

A question of powerThe Treaty of Rastatt

Since 1701, all major European powers had been involved in the War of the Spanish Succession: A French candidate had been selected as the heir to the Spanish throne and not everyone was in agreement. In 1714, the war was ended in Rastatt. The palace offered the stage for the four-month-long peace negotiations.

Ceiling paintings in the Writing Cabinet.

The ceiling painting in the Writing Cabinet.

Negotiations in an occupied city

In May 1707, the French, under Marshal Villars, captured Rastatt and occupied the city. After an additional campaign in 1713, in which Villars took Landau in the Palatinate and Freiburg in Breisgau, among other cities, he offered peace negotiations. Both France and Austria were tired of war and commissioned their commanders, Villars and Prince Eugen, to conduct peace discussions. Margravine Sibylla Augusta did not live in the residential palace at this time: In 1707, she left the city fleeing the French occupation.

Two old acquaintances

The two representatives had not always fought on opposite sides. Marshal Villars had been banished from the French court for some time due to romances and court intrigues and looked for a place at other European courts. From 1684 to 1685, he accompanied the prince-elector of Bavaria on his campaigns in Hungary. Here, he got to know Prince Eugen von Savoyen, against whom he would later fight as a general. 30 years later, they sat across from each other at the negotiation table in Rastatt.

Portrait of Marshal Villars.
Portrait of Prince Eugene of Savoy.

The representatives for Austria and France negotiated the conditions of the Treaty of Rastatt.

Detail of the wood paneling in the Writing Cabinet.

The treaty was likely signed in the Writing Cabinet.

A treaty in French

The peace negotiations were opened in Rastatt on November 26, 1713. Marshal Villars had no diplomatic training. He was therefore unable to understand Latin, which had been the standard language of treaties until then. He insisted that the peace treaty be written in French, because he feared being cheated. Ultimately, both parties signed the treaty in the night between March 6 and March 7, 1714. What's more, despite a clause stating that it should not create precedence for future international treaties, French nonetheless became the language of diplomacy.

Finally, peace!

The Treaty of Rastatt essentially confirmed the agreements from the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. After the Treaty of Rastatt, the Treaty of Baden was signed in the same year by additional participants in the war, in particular, France and the Holy Roman Empire. The result of the treaty: France had to vacate the territory it had conquered on the right side of the Rhine, but remained in possession of the city of Landau in the Palatinate and its fortress. Breisach on the Rhine, Freiburg in Breisgau and Kehl, the Spanish Netherlands, Sardinia and the parts of Italy that once belonged to the Spanish crown, including Lombardy and the Duchy of Milan, the Duchy of Mantua, and the Kingdom of Naples went to Austria.

Painting of the Peaces of Rastatt and Utrecht, Paolo de Matteis, 1662–1728.

Paolo De Matteis immortalized the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714.

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