King's College London
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West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967

The Treaty of Utrecht

Title page of a copy of the Treaty of Utrecht with inscription at the topTitle page of a copy of the Treaty of UtrechtThe Treaty of Utrecht was a series of documents signed in 1713 by the powers of Great Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal to mark the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14).

This conflict followed the death of Charles II of Spain and involved European states concerned with the balance of power in Europe and the inheritance of the Spanish empire following Charles’s death.

The Treaty formally ceded Gibraltar to Britain following its 1704 capture as part of this conflict. Significantly, it marked Britain’s first territorial gain in the Mediterranean and allowed the establishment of a military base which would play an important role in future conflicts, as well as providing (like Malta to the east) a stopping-off point on the trade route to India, particularly following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

The copy reproduced here is notable for a variety of reasons. It was previously held in the Foreign Office Library and on the final page a small slip of paper inserted by a bookseller describes it as the ‘Ambassador’s copy, with documents signed by the King of Spain’. This refers to Philip V of Spain, who has placed his signature ‘Yo el Rey’ at the end of two large manuscript leaves inserted into the book. His signature is witnessed by others and dated 5 June 1714.

Previous owners have also left their mark on this copy of the Treaty, including a William Smith whose name is visible at the top of the woodcut title page reproduced here.

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