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Legal discourse between integration and disintegration: the case of the peaceful succession struggles, 1713-1739

Frederik Dhondt UGent (2013) European Traditions : Integration or Disintegration. p.159-174
abstract
Early modern European international relations (1450-1815) appear in contemporary manuals as a ceaseless succession of bloodshed and competing sovereign claims. Likewise, the development of international law is assumed to have known a qualitative boost at the end of the nineteenth century, when law turns into a ‘gentle civilizer of nations’ (Koskenniemi). Law disciplines the sovereign state by imposing order through universal principles, applicable to other entities (individuals/international organizations) as well. However, both narratives are inconsistent with international law’s prime objective: international order, which can also be achieved through legal arguments in a non-institutionalized and tempered anarchical environment. This is the case during ‘les trente heureuses’(Le Roy Ladurie), the period running from the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1714) to the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). With the break-up of medieval conceptual European unity at the Westphalia Treaties (1648), a new discourse accom-modating all partners had to be found. It took the ‘Société des Princes’ (Bély) until the 1713 Peace of Utrecht to develop a horizontal, instead of a vertical consensus. The political impracticability of the latter structure had been proven, since it supposed a sufficiently strong and buttressing hegemony, which neither the Emperor, nor the Spanish or French King could incarnate. Consequently, Imperial (leaning on Roman and Imperial feudal law), Spanish (based on Castilian public Law) and French (rooted in unwritten domestic fundamental laws) discourse was unacceptable as a common vector. Within the practical community of early eighteenth-century diplomats, horizontal discourse, or the conceptual language of treaty law, became predominant (Lesaffer). An eminent example of this were the successions of extinguished sovereign houses (Steiger). As one of the most fundamental political issues, the designation of the prince’s successor was determined by internal constitutionalized norms. However, this proved to be a political fiction, because of the combination of the European state system’s interdependence and power inequalities. Succession laws and even domestic private law were used by big powers as a pretext to invade whenever they felt pleased to (War of Devolution/Nine Years War). Internationally unregulated successions stimulated instinctive instability and were thus a liability to European order. Through the process of negotiation of the so-called partition treaties on the Spanish Succession (1668-1700 – Bérenger/Rule), an early consensus on this last point materialized amongst the big powers France, Britain-Holland and the Empire. The War of the Spanish Succession sealed the fate of pan-European war, the alternative to regulation (Dhondt). In this conference paper, I present how the ‘peace system’(Chaussinand-Nogaret) of abbot Dubois (1656-1723) and Earl Stanhope (1673-1721) dealt with succession questions in the post-Utrecht period, and how this practice evolved during the 1720’s and 1730’s, under Prime Ministers Cardinal Fleury (1653-1743) and Robert Walpole (1676-1745)(Vaucher/Black). Generally speaking, a Franco-British tandem acted as the motor of European affairs, mounting multilateral interventions against transgressors such as Spanish King Philip V in his 1717-1718 invasion of Italy, pushing bilateral issues up to a higher level of resolution, the political agora of European-wide congresses. These congresses, held at Cambrai (1722/1724-1725) and Soissons (1728-1729) have left ample dispatches by the pleni-potentiaries, in which the above cited rhetorical and conceptual oppositions come into light. It reinterpret the latter primary sources (State Papers, Kew – Archives Diplomatiques, Paris), which I currently examine in my doctoral dissertation, through the rich explanatory grid of international law.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
keyword
European History, International Relations, International Law
in
European Traditions : Integration or Disintegration
editor
J Oosterhuis and E Van Dongen
pages
159 - 174
publisher
Wolf Legal Publishers
place of publication
Nijmegen, The Netherlands
conference name
XVIIth European Forum of Young Legal Historians
conference location
Maastricht, The Netherlands
conference start
2011-04-13
conference end
2011-04-16
ISBN
9789058509444
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
1251858
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1251858
alternative location
http://www.aylh.org/annualforums/cfp/xvii
date created
2011-06-03 13:44:17
date last changed
2013-02-01 15:25:57
@inproceedings{1251858,
  abstract     = {Early modern European international relations (1450-1815) appear in contemporary manuals as a ceaseless succession of bloodshed and competing sovereign claims. Likewise, the development of international law is assumed to have known a qualitative boost at the end  of the nineteenth century, when law  turns into a {\textquoteleft}gentle civilizer of nations{\textquoteright}  (Koskenniemi). Law disciplines the sovereign state by imposing order through universal principles, applicable to other entities (individuals/international  organizations) as well. However, both narratives are inconsistent with international law{\textquoteright}s prime objective: international order, which can also be achieved through legal arguments in a non-institutionalized and tempered anarchical environment. This is the case during {\textquoteleft}les trente heureuses{\textquoteright}(Le Roy Ladurie), the period running from the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1714) to the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). With the break-up of medieval conceptual European unity at the Westphalia Treaties (1648), a new discourse accom-modating all partners had to be found. It took the {\textquoteleft}Soci{\'e}t{\'e} des Princes{\textquoteright} (B{\'e}ly) until the 1713 Peace of Utrecht to develop a horizontal, instead of a vertical consensus. The political impracticability of the latter structure had been proven, since it supposed a sufficiently strong and buttressing hegemony, which neither the Emperor, nor the Spanish or French King could incarnate. Consequently, Imperial (leaning on Roman and Imperial feudal law), Spanish (based on Castilian public Law) and French (rooted in unwritten domestic fundamental laws) discourse was unacceptable as a common vector. Within the practical community of early eighteenth-century diplomats, horizontal discourse, or the conceptual language of treaty law, became predominant (Lesaffer). An eminent example of this were the successions of extinguished sovereign houses (Steiger). As one of the most fundamental political issues, the designation of the prince{\textquoteright}s successor was determined by internal constitutionalized norms. However, this proved to be a political fiction, because of the combination of the European state system{\textquoteright}s interdependence and power inequalities. Succession laws and even domestic private law were  used by big powers as a pretext to invade whenever they felt pleased to (War of Devolution/Nine Years War). Internationally unregulated successions stimulated instinctive instability and were thus a liability to European order. Through the process of negotiation of the so-called partition treaties on the Spanish Succession (1668-1700 -- B{\'e}renger/Rule),  an early consensus on this last point materialized amongst the big powers France, Britain-Holland and the Empire. The War of the Spanish Succession sealed the fate of pan-European war, the alternative to regulation (Dhondt). In this conference paper, I present how the {\textquoteleft}peace system{\textquoteright}(Chaussinand-Nogaret) of abbot Dubois (1656-1723) and Earl Stanhope (1673-1721) dealt with succession questions in the post-Utrecht period, and how this practice evolved during the 1720{\textquoteright}s and 1730{\textquoteright}s, under Prime Ministers Cardinal Fleury (1653-1743) and Robert Walpole (1676-1745)(Vaucher/Black). Generally speaking, a Franco-British tandem acted as the motor of European affairs, mounting multilateral interventions against transgressors such as Spanish King Philip V  in his 1717-1718 invasion of Italy, pushing bilateral issues up to a higher level of resolution, the political agora of European-wide congresses. These congresses, held at Cambrai (1722/1724-1725) and Soissons (1728-1729) have left ample dispatches by the pleni-potentiaries, in which the above cited rhetorical and conceptual oppositions come into light. It reinterpret the latter primary sources (State Papers,  Kew -- Archives Diplomatiques, Paris), which I currently examine in my doctoral dissertation, through  the rich explanatory grid of international law.},
  author       = {Dhondt, Frederik},
  booktitle    = {European Traditions : Integration or Disintegration},
  editor       = {Oosterhuis, J and Van Dongen, E},
  isbn         = {9789058509444},
  keyword      = {European History,International Relations,International Law},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Maastricht, The Netherlands},
  pages        = {159--174},
  publisher    = {Wolf Legal Publishers},
  title        = {Legal discourse between integration and disintegration: the case of the peaceful succession struggles, 1713-1739},
  url          = {http://www.aylh.org/annualforums/cfp/xvii},
  year         = {2013},
}

Chicago
Dhondt, Frederik. 2013. “Legal Discourse Between Integration and Disintegration: The Case of the Peaceful Succession Struggles, 1713-1739.” In European Traditions : Integration or Disintegration, ed. J Oosterhuis and E Van Dongen, 159–174. Nijmegen, The Netherlands: Wolf Legal Publishers.
APA
Dhondt, F. (2013). Legal discourse between integration and disintegration: the case of the peaceful succession struggles, 1713-1739. In J. Oosterhuis & E. Van Dongen (Eds.), European Traditions : Integration or Disintegration (pp. 159–174). Presented at the XVIIth European Forum of Young Legal Historians, Nijmegen, The Netherlands: Wolf Legal Publishers.
Vancouver
1.
Dhondt F. Legal discourse between integration and disintegration: the case of the peaceful succession struggles, 1713-1739. In: Oosterhuis J, Van Dongen E, editors. European Traditions : Integration or Disintegration. Nijmegen, The Netherlands: Wolf Legal Publishers; 2013. p. 159–74.
MLA
Dhondt, Frederik. “Legal Discourse Between Integration and Disintegration: The Case of the Peaceful Succession Struggles, 1713-1739.” European Traditions : Integration or Disintegration. Ed. J Oosterhuis & E Van Dongen. Nijmegen, The Netherlands: Wolf Legal Publishers, 2013. 159–174. Print.