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Peace of Münster

The swearing of the oath of ratification of the treaty of Münster in 1648 (1648) by Gerard ter Borch
Europe after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648
The Celebration of the Peace of Münster (1648) by Bartholomeus van der Helst

The Peace of Münster was a treaty between the Dutch Republic and Spain signed in 1648. It was a landmark treaty for the Dutch Republic and one of the key events in Dutch history; with it, the independence of the United Netherlands was finally recognized by the Spanish crown. The treaty was a part of the Peace of Westphalia which ended both the Thirty Years' War and the Eighty Years' War.

Dutch Revolt

The Dutch Revolt, or Eighty Years' War (1566–1648), was the revolt of the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands against the Spanish (Habsburg) Empire.

Spain was initially successful in suppressing the rebellion. In 1572, however, the rebels conquered Brielle, and the rebellion resurged. During the revolt the Northern Netherlands became de facto independent and rapidly grew to become a world power through their merchant shipping and experienced a period of economic, scientific, and cultural growth. However at the same time the Southern Netherlands (situated in modern-day Belgium, Luxembourg and Northern France) remained under Spanish rule. Despite various attempts the Dutch never managed to expel the Spanish. In the final years of the war the French allied themselves with the Dutch and they weakened the weakened Spanish in the rear. By 1648 large areas of the Southern Netherlands had been lost to France and despite many military successes Andries Bicker, Cornelis de Graeff and many others wanted to sue for peace.

Negotiations and peace

The negotiations between the fighting parties began in 1641 in the towns of Münster and Osnabrück, in present-day Germany.

Despite not formally being recognised as an independent state, the Dutch republic was allowed to participate in the peace talks; even Spain did not oppose this. In January 1646, eight Dutch representatives (two from Holland and one from each of the other six provinces) arrived in Münster to start the negotiations. The Spanish envoys had been given great authority by the Spanish King Philip IV who had been suing for peace for years. On 30 January 1648, the parties reached an agreement and a text was sent to The Hague and Madrid to be signed. On 15 May the same year peace was made. With the peace, the Netherlands was recognized as an independent country.

An original copy of the treaty is held by the Rijksarchief (Dutch national archives) in The Hague.


  • Boer, H. W. J. de, H. Bruch en H. Krol (red.) Adriaan Pauw (1585–1653); staatsman en ambachtsheer. Heemstede, VOHB, 1985
  • Manzano Baena, Laura, "Negotiating Sovereignty: the Peace Treaty of Münster, 1648", History of Political Thought, Volume 28, Number 4, 2007, pp. 617–641.
  • Poelhekke, J. J. De vrede van Munster. 's-Gravenhage, Martinus Nijhoff, 1948.
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