Anglo-French negotiations on the Spanish Partition Treaties (1698–1700):A Re-evaluation
The Spanish partition treaties were as much indicative of the decline of the Spanish Empire, as they were of Anglo-French rivalry.5 A decade earlier, in 1688, the Nine Years War had erupted, described as the start of a ‘Second Hundred Years War’
between France and Britain6 which would end only on the battlefield of Waterloo in 1815. In the view of such commentators, the seeds of the epic conflict can be traced back to the highly personalised enmity between William III and Louis XIV. Especially to British and Dutch historians, the struggle of William III against Louis XIV essentially seemed a battle pitting two liberal, Protestant, ‘parliamentarian’ states against the aggressive forces of Catholicism and absolutism. It is difficult to underestimate the extent to which this image has pervaded even most of the modern literature on this subject, and few works make an attempt to question this paradigm. Yet this view is misleading because it presupposes an inevitability which cannot be substantiated. This article reinterprets the late-seventeenth-century rapprochement between Britain and France as a period of real significance in its own right and not merely a prelude to the renewal of war.