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The Peace of Aachen (1748) and the Rise of Multilateral Treaties

Ludwig Knaus [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the final months of 1748, the War of the Austrian Succession, which had begun in December 1740 with the invasion of the Austrian Duchy of Silesia by the young Prussian King Frederick II (r. 1740–1786), ended at the peace conference of Aachen [Aix-la-Chapelle]. Unlike the great peace conferences of the two preceding centuries, the Aachen conference did not produce a series of bilateral peace treaties, but a single multilateral treaty between no less than eight powers. Historians of international law generally indicate the Congress of Vienna (1815) at the end of the Napoleonic Wars as the starting point of the emergence of multilateral treaties. However, the Peace of Aachen forms an important precedent to Vienna.

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Image credit: Jacques Dumont - Allégorie en l'honneur de la publication de la paix d'Aix-la-Chapelle, Joconde Database: entry 11040000395 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  

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