Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)

The second Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) of 1748 ended the War of the Austrian Succession.
A congress assembled at the Imperial Free City of Aachen, in the west of the Holy Roman Empire, on April 24, 1748. The resulting treaty was signed on October 18, 1748.

Britain and France dictated the treaty, and other nations followed the proposed terms.
The terms were:

1. Austria recognized Frederick the Great's conquest of Silesia, as well as losing parts of Italian territories to Spain.
France withdrew from the Netherlands in order to have some of its colonies returned (p. 549 Kishlansky). France regained Cape Breton Island while it gave up Madras to England and gave up the Barrier towns to the Dutch (Britannica).

2. Maria Theresa gave up to Spain the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla in Italy (Britannica).

3. The Duchy of Modena and the Republic of Genoa were restored (Laven).

4. The Asiento contract, which was guaranteed to Great Britain in 1713 through the Treaty of Utrecht, was renewed (Sosin).
Spain later raised objections to the Asiento clauses, and the Treaty of Madrid, signed on October 5, 1750, stipulated that Great Britain surrendered her claims under those clauses in return for a sum of £100,000.

In essence, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and the War of Austrian Succession concluded status quo ante bellum. In the commercial struggle between Britain and France in the West Indies, Africa, and India, nothing was settled; the treaty was thus no basis for a lasting peace.

In France, there was a general resentment at what was seen as a foolish throwing away of advantages (particularly in the Austrian Netherlands, which had largely been conquered by the brilliant strategy of Marshal Saxe), and it came to be popular in Paris to use the phrase la guerre pour le roi de Prusse ("war for the king of Prussia").

By the same token, British colonists in New England and merchants back in Great Britain resented the return of Louisbourg to the French after they had captured the stronghold in a 46-day siege. This resentment was an early seed of the later American Revolution. In actual fact, Britain exchanged Louisbourg for Madras, captured by French Admiral La Bourdonnais in 1746.
In Britain itself, George II was seen as having conducted the war and the peace to the best advantage of Hanover (of which he was Elector) rather than Britain, and so the main British celebrations of the peace were only held 6 months later, with the fireworks display in Green Park for which Handel wrote his Music for the Royal Fireworks. This celebration was deliberately held near the royal residence of Buckingham House so as to present the king in a better light, as a British king and as the prime mover in a peace that was successful for Britain. (The display proved less successful than the music - the enormous wood building from which the fireworks were to be launched caught fire due to the fall of the bas relief of George II).
George and Britain did at least gain from the treaty in that one clause of it had finally compelled the French to recognise the Hanoverian succession to the British throne and expel the Jacobites from France.

In contrast to French and British unhappiness with the Treaty, Italy gained stability for the first time in the 18th century. The new territorial settlement and the accession of the pacific Ferdinand VI of Spain allowed the Aachen settlement to last until the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792.

see Also


Kishlansky, Geary, O'Brien Civilization of the West 7th Edition Vol. B

Laven, David. "Austria's Italian policy reconsidered: Revolution and reform in restoration Italy" Modern Italy 2.1 (1997). 07 Jun. 2008 < >

Louisburg and the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748 Jack M. Sosin The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Oct., 1957), pp. 516-535 Post reply

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