Treaty of Reichenbach (1790)
The Treaty of Reichenbach was signed on July 27, 1790 in Reichenbach (present-day Dzierżoniów) between Prussia under King Frederick William II and Austria under Leopold II, who was also Holy Roman Emperor. The two countries tried to settle their differences, specifically Leopold attempted to be conciliatory toward Prussia, as Austria and Russia had recently made gains against the Ottoman Empire.
Based on the terms of the treaty, Austria agreed to restore all conquered territories to the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, Austria agreed to grant the Belgians both amnesty and their old constitution. The Prussian statesman, Count Ewald Friedrich of Hertzberg, managed to insert a clause whereby Austria would be able to make small acquisitions of Ottoman territory. However, Austria must first receive permission from the Sublime Porte and must also allow Prussia to acquire an equivalent amount of Ottoman territory. Even though Austria had to relinquish its conquered territories to the Ottoman Empire, it was allowed to retain its garrison in Chotin. Moreover, the accord guaranteed protection of the Bosnian frontier. In return for these concessions, Prussia made herself responsible for several stipulated compensations. In another aspect of the treaty, Austria was not allowed to overtly or covertly support Russia in its campaigns against the Sublime Porte.
Due to Leopold's diplomatic skill and sense of moderation, Austria attained a diplomatic victory through the treaty. In other words, the Treaty of Reichenbach helped to strengthen the level of respect Leopold received from foreign powers. Moreover, the accord helped Austria to focus on establishing peace within its own territories. Prussia, on the other hand, was forced to abandon its plans for expansion, as well as any attempts to acquire strategic benefits from Austria's losses. The Treaty of Reichenbach is seen by historians as a significant marker representing a Prussian retreat from the policies of Frederick the Great, as well as the beginning of Prussia's decline that found its nadir at the Battle of Jena.
- Lodge, p. 466. By the treaty of Reichenbach (27 July, 1790) Austria engaged to restore all her conquests to Turkey and to grant an amnesty and their old constitution to the Belgians. Hertzberg, who was completely disconcerted at the turn which affairs had taken, could only secure the insertion of a clause by which, if Austria did make any small acquisition of Turkish territory, it should be with the free will of the Porte, and Prussia was to get an equivalent.
- Williams, p. 497. "The status quo was accordingly accepted. Austria engaged herself to return to the Sublime Porte all acquisitions derived from the late war; only Chotin for the time being was to remain garrisoned, and the Bosnian frontier was to be protected. Prussia, in return, made herself responsible for several stipulated compensations. In a declaration commenting upon the arrangement, the expectation was expressed that during the continuance of the Russo-Austrian war Austria would hold herself aloof from any interference, and would refrain from giving direct or indirect assistance to Russia against the Porte. As to Belgian affairs, she declared that in the direction of subjugation as well as constitution she would be willing to throw her lot with the maritime powers."
- Williams, p. 497. "This Treaty of Reichenbach, signed July 27, 1790, is a great and most diplomatic victory for Austria, which is due to Leopold's skill and moderation. With one stroke the situation was adjusted, the respect for Leopold among foreign powers strengthened, action in relation to the Netherlands and Hungary freed from all outside restraints, and the way was cleared for concentrating all Austria's strength on establishing conditions of peace throughout the country itself. That, moreover, Prussia was compelled to withdraw from her wide-reaching plans, and obliged to give up the idea of turning Austria's embarrassment to her own profit, was a very decided advantage, obvious to all observers."
- Lodge, p. 466. The treaty of Reichenbach, as competent observers saw at the time, marks the first retreat from the policy of Frederick the Great and the first step in the decline of Prussia.
- Lodge, Richard. The Student's Modern Europe: A History of Modern Europe. From the Capture of Constantinople, 1453, To The Treaty of Berlin, 1878. American Book Company, 1885 (Originally from Harvard University).
- Williams, Henry Smith. The Historians' History of the World: A Comprehensive Narrative of the Rise and Development of Nations as Recorded by over Two Thousand of the Great Writers of all Ages. The Times, 1907.