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The Treaty or Peace of Ryswick, also known as The Peace of Rijswijk was a series of agreements signed in the Dutch city of Rijswijk between 20 September and 30 October 1697, ending the 1689-97 Nine Years War between France and the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the Dutch Republic.[b]

Peace of Ryswick
Treaty of Peace between France and Spain
Treaty of Peace between France and England[a]
Suspension of Armed Conflict in Germany between France and the Holy Roman Empire
Treaty of Peace and Commerce between France and the Dutch Republic
Separate Article for the Dutch Republic
Treaty of Peace between France and the Holy Roman Empire
Rijswijk Netherlands - Huis ter Nieuwburg by P. Schenck.jpg
Huis ter Nieuwburg, location for the negotiations
Context End of the 1689-1697 Nine Years War
Signed 20 September 1697 (1697-09-20)
Location Rijswijk



Charles II (1665–1700); his successor overshadowed the negotiations.

All wars were expensive but the Nine Years War was financially crippling for participants, primarily because armies increased in size from an average of 25,000 in 1648 to over 100,000 by 1697.[c] This level was unsustainable for pre-industrial economies and military spending in this period absorbed 80% of English government revenues, with one in seven adult males serving in the army or navy. Figures were similar or worse for other combatants.[1]

Although all sides were eager to end the war, agreeing terms proved more difficult. Louis XIV sought to divide the Grand Alliance by persuading individual members to agree a separate peace, a tactic that had previously proved very successful. In 1693, French diplomats initiated informal talks with the Duchy of Savoy and the Dutch Republic. The major obstacles were the requirements that France recognise William III as King of England and Scotland in place of James II and return the Duchy of Luxemburg to Spain.[2]

The Earl of Portland (1649–1709), William's personal representative

In August 1696, Savoy left the Alliance and signed the Treaty of Turin with France while the Convention of Vigevano of 7 October declared a general truce in Italy.[d] Louis now agreed to restore Luxembourg to Spain and recognise William as King, clearing the way to finalise terms.[3] Formal negotiations were held in the Huis ter Nieuwburg at Ryswick, mediated by Swedish diplomat and soldier Niels Eosander, Baron of Lilliënrot.

By 1696, it was clear Charles II, last Hapsburg King of Spain, would remain childless and his health was in terminal decline. While no longer the dominant global power, Spain remained powerful and largely intact, with territories in Italy, the Spanish Netherlands, the Philippines and large areas of the Americas.[4] The nearest claimants were from the Austrian Hapsburg and French Bourbon families, making the question of Charles' successor hugely significant.

The issue overshadowed discussions at Ryswick and Emperor Leopold wanted it addressed in the Peace; without that, he would only agree a ceasefire and persuaded the Spanish to support him.[e] In response, William and Louis appointed the Earl of Portland and Marshal Boufflers as their personal representatives; they met privately outside Brussels in June 1697 and quickly finalised terms, at which point Spain also agreed.[5] However, with the issue of Charles' successor unresolved, all sides accepted the likelihood of another war and began preparing for it.


Europe after the Treaty of Ryswick

The Peace consisted of a number of separate agreements; on 20 September 1697, France signed Treaties of Peace with Spain and England, a Ceasefire with the Holy Roman Empire and on 21 September a Treaty of Peace and Commerce with the Dutch Republic. It also confirmed the provisions of the Treaty of Turin, although technically these were not part of the Peace.

On 9 October the Dutch signed an additional Article agreeing to leave the Alliance if Leopold did not also sign a Peace Treaty before 1 November. Despite a resounding victory over the Ottomans at Zenta in September 1697, Leopold could not risk war on two fronts and signed on 30 October.

Its basis was to restore the territorial positions agreed by the 1679 Treaty of Nijmegen. France kept Strasbourg but returned Freiburg, Breisach and Philippsburg to the Holy Roman Empire and also the Duchy of Lorraine, occupied since 1670. Spain recovered Catalonia plus Mons, Luxembourg and Kortrijk in the Spanish Netherlands with the Dutch allowed to place garrisons in the so-called Barrier forts of Namur and Ypres. Louis recognised William as King, agreed not to support James II and abandoned his claims in the Electorate of Cologne and the Electoral Palatinate.

The North American theatre, or King William's War, was an escalation of the ongoing contest between French colonies in Acadia and Canada and English colonies in New England, with both sides recruited Native American allies. Led by Count Frontenac, the French repulsed attacks on Quebec and Montreal while causing substantial damage to the New England economy.[6] Shortly before the Treaty was signed, a French expedition captured York Factory from the Hudson's Bay Company but as in Europe, the pre-war territorial borders were now restored. Spain recognised French control of the Caribbean territories of Tortuga and part of the adjacent island of Hispaniola known as Saint-Domingue, both now in modern Haiti. France also regained Pondichéry in India from the Dutch.


Zenta, September 1697; Hapsburg success against the Ottomans threatened French dominance in Europe
The Needle of Rijswijk erected during 1792–1794

The Nine Years War had shown France needed allies and Louis adopted a dual-track approach of a diplomatic offensive to seek support while keeping the French army on a war footing.[f] Louis was concerned by the increase in Hapsburg power and confidence following victories over the Ottomans at Vienna in 1683 and Zenta in September 1697; however, the growing independence of German states like Bavaria also provided opportunities.

For Britain, France's acceptance of the 1688 Glorious Revolution marked a turning point in its rise as a global power. English mercantile interests had largely focused on the Levant trade but now began to challenge Spanish and Portuguese dominance of the Americas. However, the Tory majority in Parliament was determined to reduce costs and by 1699, the English military had been cut to less than 7,000 men.[7] This seriously undermined William's ability to negotiate on equal terms with France and despite his intense mistrust, he co-operated with Louis in an attempt to agree a diplomatic solution to the Succession. The Partition Treaties of The Hague (1698) and London (1700) ultimately failed to prevent the outbreak of war in 1702 but this was arguably the result of Louis' miscalculations.[8]

The Dutch Republic ended the Nine Years War with huge debts, forcing them to reduce expenditure on the navy and further weakening their economy. The renewal of war in 1701 and their investment in winning it brought the so-called Dutch Golden Age to an end.[9]


  1. ^ Until 1707, England and Scotland were separate countries under one monarch ie William but Treaties were signed by the King of Great Britain.
  2. ^ The Duchy of Savoy joined the Grand Alliance in 1690 but agreed a separate peace with France in August 1696 and was not represented at Ryswick.
  3. ^ Per historian John Childs, this reduced to 35,000 during the 1701-1714 War of the Spanish Succession.
  4. ^ Full title Treaty between the Emperor and Spain and Savoy (and France) for a Suspension of Arms in Italy, signed at Vigevano, 7 October 1696
  5. ^ In the 1689 Treaty of the Grand Alliance, England and the Dutch Republic had agreed to support Leopold's claim to the Spanish throne.
  6. ^ The usual practice of the time was to disband them as quickly as possible.


  1. ^ Childs, John (1991). The Nine Years' War and the British Army, 1688-1697: The Operations in the Low Countries (2013 ed.). Manchester University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0719089964. 
  2. ^ Frey, Linda (ed), Frey, Marsha (ed) (1995). The Treaties of the War of the Spanish Succession: An Historical and Critical Dictionary. Greenwood. pp. 389–390. ISBN 0313278849. 
  3. ^ Szechi, Daniel (1994). The Jacobites: Britain and Europe, 1688-1788. Manchester University Press. p. 51. ISBN 0719037743. 
  4. ^ Storrs, Christopher (2006). The Resilience of the Spanish Monarchy 1665-1700. OUP Oxford. pp. 6–7. ISBN 0199246378. 
  5. ^ Frey, Linda (ed), Frey, Marsha (ed) (1995). The Treaties of the War of the Spanish Succession: An Historical and Critical Dictionary. Greenwood. p. 389. ISBN 0313278849. 
  6. ^ Grenier, John. "King William's War; New England's Mournful Decade". Historynet. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  7. ^ Gregg, Edward (1980). Queen Anne (Revised) (The English Monarchs Series) (2001 ed.). Yale University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0300090242. 
  8. ^ Falkner, James (2015). The War of the Spanish Succession 1701-1714 (Kindle ed.). 96: Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781473872905. 
  9. ^ Meerts, Paul Willem (2014). Diplomatic negotiation: Essence and Evolution. Leiden University dissertation. pp. 168–169. 


  • Childs, John; The Nine Years' War and the British Army (Manchester University Press, 1991);
  • Durant, Will and Ariel; The Age of Louis XIV (Story of Civilization) (TBS Publishing, 1963);
  • Eccles, William J; Canada under Louis XIV (Macmillan and Stewart, 1964);
  • Frey, Linda (ed), Frey, Marsha (ed); The Treaties of the War of the Spanish Succession: An Historical and Critical Dictionary. (Greenwood, 1995);
  • Laramie, Michael; King William's War (Pen and Sword, 2018);
  • Mowat, R. B. History of European Diplomacy, 1451–1789 (1928) 324 pages online pp 141-54.
  • Thomson, Mark A; Louis XIV and William III, 1689-1697 (The English Historical Review, Volume 76, January, 1961

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