Peace was made here

Allegory on the Treaty of Utrecht-Rastatt, after Paolo de Matteis (1662-1728), private collection, Hamburg
Allegory on the Treaty of Utrecht-Rastatt, after Paolo de Matteis (1662-1728), private collection, Hamburg

It is precisely 300 years ago that the Treaty of Utrecht was signed, a key event in world history. Quite remarkable is that Utrecht is often known internationally for this peace treaty, while in the Netherlands, and even in Utrecht, one hardly knows about it. In 1713, diplomats from all over Europe gathered in Utrecht to sign the Treaty of Utrecht, ending a series of violent wars that had tormented Europe for as long as two centuries. This year, Utrecht is celebrating this forgotten peace treaty in a big way. The celebration is focussed around this exhibition Peace Was Made Here, running from 12 April to 22 September 2013 in Centraal Museum. This international, historical exhibition takes visitors from the Reformation in the early sixteenth century through to 1713. From the peace treaty signed by all the diplomats, a gate of the Utrecht city hall, cannonballs from the battlefields, to a portrait of power-greedy Sun King Louis XIV and other authentic objects, the exhibition illustrates why the Treaty of Utrecht brought world fame to the city.

Maarten Luther (1483-1546), Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop 1546, Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht
Maarten Luther (1483-1546), Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop 1546, Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht

There is not one Treaty of Utrecht, as in one single document signed by all parties. It actually consists of a series of approximately twenty treaties, concluded from the year 1713 through to 1715, signed not only in Utrecht, but also in Madrid, south German Rastatt and Swiss Baden. As the majority and most significant of these treaties were signed in Utrecht, the event as a whole was given the name Treaty of Utrecht. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the Franco-Dutch peace treaty.

A city hall with two gates

The Treaty of Utrecht marked the end of two centuries of war on religion and power, which had destroyed large parts of Europe. Was the whole of Europe to become catholic once again under one ruler (such as Charles V or later LouisXIV), or could it accommodate more than one religion and equal power between countries? The latter occurred. European countries reached agreements, quite similar to our current European Union. Remarkable was that this peace treaty was established based on mutual respect, with no clear losers. Balance of power and acceptance of multiple religions was achieved through dialogue and negotiation. Utrecht served as a convenient, central location. Also, the Utrecht city hall had two gates allowing equal access to foreign diplomats.
The established peace in Utrecht, followed by that in Rastatt and Baden, led to great relief across the whole of Europe. Festivities took place in all kinds of ways, the most well-known example being the musical score Utrecht Te Deum, specially written for this occasion by German composer Georg Friedrich Händel.

Peace treaty between France and the United Provinces
Peace treaty between France and the United Provinces

Collection National Archives, The Hague

Peace was made here has a chronological-thematic set-up. Covering key themes and figures, and displaying authentic pieces on loan from both national and international collections, the exhibition takes you through the two centuries leading up to the Treaty of Utrecht. The exhibition includes the religious wars after the Reformation, the belligerent and power-greedy Louis XIV, William III who managed to forge a coalition between England, the Republic of the United Netherlands and German rulers to fight the rapidly expanding power of Louis XIV, the War of the Spanish Succession, the exceedingly high costs of the war, which eventually led to the need for a peace negotiation, the peace treaty itself and its celebration.

Multimedia Tour

The exhibition can be viewed with a multimedia tour, which is handed out to each visitor. Besides providing a guideline and a ‘test-your-knowledge’ quiz, this tour tells the personal story of the historical leading figures and other characters in the Treaty of Utrecht.

Children's Harness, collection Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History
Children's Harness, collection Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History

Photo: Danny Maes

Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue in Dutch, English and German: Renger de Bruin and Maarten Brinkman (eds.), In Vredesnaam. De Vrede van Utrecht 1713. With contributions by: Ana Crespo Solanes, Linda and Marsha Frey, Liesbeth M. Helmus, Alexander Jordan and Hartmuth Troll, David Onnekink, Guy Rowlands, Inken Schmidt-Voges, Joke Spaans and Rolf Stücheli. 194 pp., ca 125 ill. Price: € 29.95. Dutch: ISBN 978-3-86568-906-1; English: ISBN978-3-86568-905-4; German: ISBN 978-3-86568-896-5

International traveling exhibition
The international exhibition Peace Was Made Here is a collaboration between Centraal Museum, Wehrgeschichtliches Museum Rastatt, Historisches Museum Baden and Fundación Carlos de Amberes in Madrid, where a fundamental part of the exhibition will be housed next. The collaboration of these institutions in the cities where in 1712-1715 the dialogue on peace took place and where the treaties were signed places this peace treaty in the wider context of European history.

- Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 11 April - 22 September 2013
Fundación Carlos de Amberes, Madrid, 26 November 2013 - 23 February 2014
Wehrgeschichtliches Museum, Rastatt, 6 March - 15 June 2014
Historisches Museum, Baden, 7 September 2014 - 1 March 2015

Utrecht celebrates peace!

The exhibition in Centraal Museum is part of a larger international programme in the city, district and wider region. Treaty of Utrecht is an initiative of the Municipality and Province of Utrecht
www.vredevanutrecht2013.nl/en/


The Treaty restored tormented Europe, coin with Treaty of Baden, 1714, collection Schweizerischer Landesmuseum, Zürich
The Treaty restored tormented Europe, coin with Treaty of Baden, 1714, collection Schweizerischer Landesmuseum, Zürich

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