Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)

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On the 24 April 1748 a congress assembled at the Imperial Free City of Aachen, in the west of the Holy Roman Empire. This Congress of Aachen is often referred to as Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle using the French name of Aachen. It was the purpose of the congress to bring to a conclusion the struggle known as the War of Austrian Succession.

Between 30 April and 21 May the preliminaries were agreed to between Great Britain, France and the Dutch Republic, and to these Maria Theresa, queen of Bohemia and Hungary, the kings of Sardinia and Spain, the duke of Modena, and the republic of Genoa successively gave their adhesion. The definitive treaty was signed on 18 October, Sardinia alone refusing to accede, because the Treaty of Worms (1743) was not guaranteed.

Of the provisions of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle the most important were those stipulating for:

  1. a general restitution of conquests, including Cape Breton Island to France, Madras to England and the barrier towns to the Dutch
  2. the assignment to Don Philip of the duchies of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla
  3. the restoration of the duke of Modena and the republic of Genoa to their former positions
  4. the renewal in favour of Great Britain of the Asiento contract of the 16 March 1713, and of the right to send an annual vessel to the Spanish colonies
  5. the renewal of the article of the treaty of 1718 recognizing the Protestant succession in the English throne
  6. the recognition of the emperor Francis and the confirmation of the pragmatic sanction, i.e. of the right of Maria Theresa to the Habsburg succession
  7. the guarantee to Prussia of the duchy of Silesia and the county of Glatz.

Spain having raised objections to the Asiento clauses, the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was supplemented by Treaty of Madrid (5 October 1750), by which Great Britain surrendered her claims under those clauses in return for a sum of 100,000.

See A. J. H. de Clercq, Recueil des traites de la France; F. A. Wenk, Corpus juris gentium recentissimi, 1735–1772, vol. ii. (Leipzig, 1786), p. 337; Comte G. de Garden, Hist. des traites de paix, 1848–1887, iii. p. 373.