Exhibition in the Utrecht city archives
It happened in Utrecht in 1713 and had far reaching international consequences. Diplomats from Spain, Portugal, France, England, and the Habsburg Empire met in Utrecht in order to free Europe from ongoing wars and struggles. These had begun when the Spanish king Charles II. had died without successor in 1700 and subsequently all sorts of rulers claimed their rights to the Spanish throne, leading to the War of the Spanish Succession. The French claims of Louis XIV. constituted the most threatening danger. Imagine, a catholic empire stretching all over France and Spain - a thorn in the flesh for the (also catholic) Habsburgs as well as the protestant countries of England and the Netherlands.
A flood of diplomats and an economic boom in Utrecht
In order to finally end the militant controversies, it was agreed to meet in Utrecht for peace negotiations. These took quite some time because compromises needed to be found for large numbers of opposing interests. Apart from logistical challenges, this also presented economic advantages for the city of Utrecht. How we can imagine life in Utrecht in this period, is currently being presented in an exhibition in the Utrecht city archives, the Utrechts Archief, under the title Hoge pruiken, plat vermaak. Meaning "high wigs, trivial delights".
While high-ranking diplomats and their entourage struggled for housing befitting their social status and while special rules had to be issued for coaches passing each other in the narrow streets, the citizens of Utrecht searched and found ways to benefit from the lengthy negotiations. Publishers issued "Who is Who's", wainwrights, bakers and other craftsmen and merchants found more outlets for their products and services, and prostitution became more profitable than ever. Many a warden had to keep a constant eye on his daughters, so they wouldn't be easy prey to the seduction of foreign bachelors. Banquets and spectacles were organised on regular occasions. And those who want to have a "live" impression of Utrecht in this time, can make a real ride with a contemporary coach through the year 1713. Although the exhibition is nicely done, a little point of criticism needs to be mentioned: All information is given in Dutch only. So you might want to bring your dictionary.
Het Utrechts Archief, Hamburgerstraat 28, Utrecht.
March 16 to November 25, 2013
Complement your visit with a guided tour through the centre of Utrecht.
March 21st, 2013