Treaty of the Pyrenees

The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed in 1659 to end the war between France and Spain that had begun in 1635 during the Thirty Years' War. It was signed on Pheasant Island, a river island on the border between the two countries. The kings Louis XIV of France and Philip IV of Spain were represented by their prime ministers, Cardinal Mazarin and Don Luis de Haro, respectively.


France entered the Thirty Years' War after the Spanish victories in the Dutch Revolt in the 1620s and at the Battle of Nördlingen against Sweden in 1634. By 1640 France began to interfere in Spanish politics, aiding the revolt in Catalonia, while Spain in response aided the Fronde revolt in France in 1648. During the negotiations for the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, France gained Alsace and Lorraine and cut off Spanish access to the Netherlands from Austria, leading to open warfare between the French and Spanish.

After over ten years of war, an Anglo-French alliance was victorious at the Battle of the Dunes in 1658 and peace was settled by means of this treaty in 1659.


France gained Roussillon, Artois, parts of Luxembourg and Flanders, and a new border with Spain was fixed at the Pyrenees. However, the treaty only stipulated that all villages north of the Pyrenees should become part of France. For that reason there is an exclave of Spain in this part of France, the town of Llívia - considered a town and not a village - which remains Spanish control and is part of the "comarca" of Baixa Cerdanya, Spanish province of Girona. This border was not properly settled until the Treaty of Bayonne was signed in 1856.

In exchange for the Spanish territorial losses, the French king pledged to quit his support for Portugal and renounced to his claim to the county of Barcelona, which the French crown was claiming ever since the Reapers' War.

The treaty also arranged for a marriage between Louis XIV of France and Maria Theresa of Spain, the daughter of Philip IV of Spain. Maria Theresa was forced to renounce her claim to the Spanish throne, in return for a monetary settlement as part of her dowry. This settlement was never paid, a factor that eventually led to the War of Devolution in 1668.


The treaty of the Pyrenees is the last major diplomatic achievement by Cardinal Mazarin. Combined with the Peace of Westphalia, it allowed Louis XIV remarkable stability and diplomatic advantage by means of a weakened Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and a weakened Spanish Crown, along the agreed dowry, which was an important element in the French king's strategy:

All in all, in 1660, when the Swedish occupation of Poland finished , the entire European continent was at peace, and the Bourbons prevailed for the first time over the Habsburgs.

Consequences for Catalonia

In the context of the territorial changes involved by the Treaty of the Pyrenees, the pays of Roussillon, Conflent, Vallespir, Capcir and French Cerdagne, known nowadays in Catalonia as "Northern Catalonia" were transferred to France. Every year on 7 November, some Catalanists remember this event and demonstrate in Perpignan.

The treaty included several points about conserving Catalonian institutions, but Louis XIV did not respect them and so Catalan institutions were abolished just a year after the treaty was signed, and a royal French decree forbade Catalan language usage in any kind of official act.

ee also

*Language policy in France
*List of treaties

External links

*PDFlink| [ Full Text of Treaty] |16.8 MiB , France National Archives Transcription fr icon

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