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The Treaty of Monçon or Treaty of Monzón was signed on 5 March 1626 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of Louis XIII and Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, the chief minister of Philip IV of Spain, at Monçon (modern Monzón) in Aragon. It was signed in the aftermath of the French capture of Valtelline from Papal troops,[1] and also concluded the First Genoese-Savoyard War.



Valtelline, in Northern Italy, was vitally important to the communications between the Spanish and Austrian branches of the House of Habsburg. The Sforzas had ceded the territory to the Grison League,[2] but there were religious conflicts due to Valtelline natives being Catholic and their Grison masters being Protestant. Seeing an opportunity, the Spanish incited a revolt in Valtelline and eventually controlled the valley.[2] Realizing the danger, in 1623, Venice, the Duke of Savoy, and France formed an alliance to capture this strategic position in signing the Treaty of Paris (1623).[3] Spain tried to maintain peace by allowing the Papacy, over which they had great influence, to control it. France did nothing as the Papal troops of Gregory XV established control over Valtelline due to the lackluster policies of Charles de la Vieuville. Gregory XV was soon afterwards succeeded by Pope Urban VIII

With the ascendancy of Richelieu, French policy changed. They claimed that due to the alliance between them and the Duke of Savoy, they had to help Savoy who were attacking Genoa, by attacking Valtelline and diverting the resources of the Spanish, who were supporters of Genoa. In 1624, French troops quickly expelled Papal troops from the valley. The irony of a Cardinal attacking the troops of a Pope was not lost on Rome, Spain, and ultra-Catholics in France.[1]


Urban VIII sent Cardinal Francesco Barberini, his nephew, as legate to Paris to seek peace in 1625; he was also authorized by Spain.[4] He had the goals of stopping the fighting, compensation for insulting the Pope in Valtelline, and providing for the safety of the Catholics in the valley by not letting the Grisons regain control of the valley.[4] After Barberini left without getting any response from Richelieu,[5] Richelieu told the king to summon an Assembly of the Notables at Fontainebleau. Richelieu spoke in favor of an advantageous peace—the wide majority agreed with him.[4]

Eventually, the Pope raised another 6000 troops to retake Valtelline. This led the Count du Fargis, the French ambassador to Madrid, to conclude peace quickly with the Spanish on 1 January 1626. Richelieu dismissed this treaty and a new one was signed at Monçon, Aragon, on 3 March 1626.[4]


The treaty provided for the Grisons to rule over Valtelline. However, it made it so that no religion other than Roman Catholicism was allowed in the valley. Also, the Valtelline people could elect their own magistrates and judges, though subject to the approval of the Grisons. Forts in Valtelline also had to be razed. Lastly, the Valtelline people had to pay the Grisons an annual tribute to be agreed on later.[6][7]

Notably, this treaty did not stipulate who could use the passes in Valtelline.[8] Instead, it granted equal rights to the passes to both France and Spain.[9]


The treaty was widely perceived with indignation by France's former allies like the Dutch, England, Venice, Savoy, and the Grisons.

This was best summed up by the Venetians describing it as

"Broken faith, false promises, secret intrigues, plain trickeries, 'Yea' in the mouth, and 'Nay' in the heart, have between them ended in a treaty...full of treachery and injury to Venice, Savoy, and the Grisons, with the sole end of satisfying Spain, since all the advantages are on her side."[8]

They had all been tricked into thinking France was helping them, when France under Richelieu was only interested in itself. Furthermore, the aforementioned parties were angry that they were not included in the negotiations. More specifically, the Grisons disliked how their rights had been just traded away without their approval. The Venetians did not like the destruction of the forts that could protect Venice. The Duke of Savoy was insulted due to his not gaining anything and because his son received an offer to be Louis' Lieutenant in Italy. The Dutch and English were upset due to Richelieu giving them false thoughts of a league against Spain via the Treaty of Compiègne and the marriage of Henrietta Maria to Charles I.[2]

Richelieu pretended to be very unhappy about the treaty, blaming du Fargis. Next, he worked on pacifying his allies. The Duke of Savoy was pleased when he earned a chance to get the title of King. Venice and the Grisons were given excuses, while the English were assured that the French would help them in future endeavors.[10]

Thus, Richelieu achieved what he wanted too in Valtelline, namely preventing total Habsburg control of the valley, at the cost of gaining the reputation of a crafty politician.



  • Acton, Baron John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton; Ward, Sir Adolphus William; Prothero, George Walter; Benians, Ernest Alfred (1911), The Cambridge modern history, Volume 4, Cambridge, England: The University press [1]
  • Dyer, Thomas Henry (1877), Volume 3 of Modern Europe from the Fall of Constantinople to the Establishment of the German Empire, A.D. 1453-1871, London, England: G. Bell & Sons [2]
  • Harbottle, Thomas Benfield (1904), Dictionary of historical allusions, London, England: S. Sonnenschein & co., ltd. [3]
  • Vernon, Katharine Dorothea Ewart (1909), Italy from 1494 to 1790: Volume 3 of Cambridge historical series, Cambridge, England: University Press [4]