The Treaty of Ryswick or Ryswyck is the name of a series of agreements signed in Ryswick South Holland between 20 September and 30 October 1697 ending the Nine Years War between France and the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the United Provinces.


The Nine Years War was financially crippling for its participants; armies had increased in size from an average of 25,000 in 1648 to over 100,000 by 1697, a level unsustainable for pre-industrial economies.[a] Military spending in this period absorbed 80% of English government revenues, with one in seven adult males in the army or navy; figures were similar or worse for other combatants.[1]

French and Dutch representatives had been holding secret talks since 1693, the major obstacles being recognition of William III as King of England [b] in place of James II and compensation for the Duchy of Luxemburg, seized by the French in 1684.[2]

In 1696, the Duchy of Savoy left the Alliance; their Treaty of Turin with France of 29 August ended the war in Italy. The French then agreed to return Luxembourg to Spain and recognise William as King, the primary war aim of the British state [c]; while Louis did so unwillingly, this removed the Jacobites as a political threat and meant a treaty could now be signed.[3]


Huis ter Nieuwburg, where the Treaty was negotiated

Although the major points were agreed by the end of 1696, delays by Leopold I meant formal negotiations only began in May 1697. French representatives were based at The Hague, the Allies in Delft and meetings held in the Huis ter Nieuwburg at Ryswick mediated by Swedish diplomat and soldier Niels Eosander, Baron of Lilliënrot.

The much anticipated death of Charles II of Spain was the background to negotiations; the unfortunate victim of Hapsburg inbreeding,[d] he was 'short, lame, epileptic, senile and completely bald before 35, always on the verge of death but repeatedly baffling Christendom by continuing to live.'[4] Who would replace him as King of the Spanish Empire had been the central issue of European politics since his birth in 1665.

As Holy Roman Emperor and head of the Austrian Hapsburgs, Leopold wanted the Treaty to include clauses on Charles's successor. He would only agree a ceasefire, not a Treaty and initially persuaded the Spanish to support him, creating a split within the Alliance. 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]

The Treaty 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. 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. England would follow since William was also their Head of State and Spain would have to do the same, leaving the Holy Roman Empire at war with France on its own. Despite a resounding victory over the Ottomans at the Battle of Zenta in September 1697, a potential war on two fronts was too risky and Leopold signed on 30 October.

Main Provisions

Europe after the Treaty of Ryswick

The basis was a return to the territorial position agreed by the 1679 Treaty of Nijmegen. France retained Strasbourg but returned Freiburg, Breisach and Philippsburg to the Holy Roman Empire and the Duchy of Lorraine to Leopold Joseph. Spain recovered Catalonia and the fortresses of Mons, Luxembourg and Kortrijk in the Spanish Netherlands and the Dutch allowed to garrison Namur and Ypres. Louis recognised William as King, agreed not to support James II and abandoned claims in the Electorate of Cologne and the Electoral Palatinate.

The North American theatre of the Nine Years War or King William's War was a continuation of the contest between French and English economic interests. This pitted French colonies in Acadia and Canada against English colonies in New England, with both sides supported by their 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 Hudsons 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 from the Dutch.


The Needle of Rijswijk erected during 1792–1794

Since the primary drivers of the Treaty were mutual exhaustion and assembling allies in anticipation of Charles' death, it was seen as a pause not an end in hostilities. Who would inherit Charles' empire was left unresolved, Louis kept his army on a war footing and as expected hostilities began again in 1702 with the War of the Spanish Succession.[7]

Medal struck to commemorate the Treaty of Rijswijk 1697.

The Habsburg Monarchy stopped the Ottoman advance into Central Europe in 1683 at the Battle of Vienna and then took the offensive. The 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz established them as the dominant power in Central and Southeast Europe, reducing France's ability to use the Ottomans against them.[8] However, the continued fragmentation of Germany and weakening of Hapsburg control over states like Bavaria provided new opportunities for France to win allies.

The Nine Years War showed France was unable to force a military conclusion on its own, making any union between an increasingly confident Hapsburg Austria and Spain a threat that outweighed any other consideration. Louis was willing to make concessions to gain allies, most of which were retrieved in 1702, such as the Barrier forts held by the Dutch. In late 1700, it appeared he had achieved the aim of a French candidate on the Spanish throne without fighting; arguably it was only his mistakes that led to war.[9]

France's recognition of the settlement that followed the 1688 Glorious Revolution was a turning point in the rise of England [e] as a global power. While military actions outside Europe during the Nine Years War were relatively minor, they showed Spain and Portugal no longer dominated trade in the Americas and changed the focus of English mercantile interests. In addition, William's role as joint Head of State had reduced their commercial rivalry with the Dutch but this re-emerged after his death with the English in a far stronger position to exploit it.

This was another blow to the power and influence of the Dutch Republic, which ended the Nine Years War with huge debts, forcing them to reduce expenditure on the navy and further weakening their economy. The so-called Dutch Golden Age came to an end and by 1713 it had ceased to be a major European power.[10]


  1. ^ Per John Childs, armies reduced to 60,000 during the Spanish War of Succession.
  2. ^ Mary II his wife and James' daughter died in 1694.
  3. ^ The Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland
  4. ^ His parents Phillip and Mariana were uncle and niece, making him their son, cousin and great-nephew.
  5. ^ England became Britain after the 1707 Act of Union with Scotland.


  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. ^ Durant, Ariel, Durant, Will (1963). Age of Louis XIV (Story of Civilization). TBS Publishing. ISBN 0207942277. 
  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. ^ Meerts, Paul Willem (2014). Diplomatic negotiation: Essence and Evolution. http://hdl.handle.net/1887/29596: Leiden University dissertation. p. 168. 
  8. ^ Gábor Ágoston (2010). "Treaty of Karlowitz". Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Infobase Publishing. pp. 309–10. ISBN 978-0816-06259-1. 
  9. ^ Falkner, James (2015). The War of the Spanish Succession 1701-1714 (Kindle ed.). 96: Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781473872905. 
  10. ^ Meerts, Paul Willem (2014). Diplomatic negotiation: Essence and Evolution. http://hdl.handle.net/1887/29596: 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.

See also