Treaty of Versailles 1783

Definitive Treaty of Peace and Friendship between his Britannic Majesty, and the King of Spain. Signed at Versailles the 3rd day of September 1783.

In the name of the most holy and undivided trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. So be it.

Be it known to all those whom it shall or may in any manner concern. The most serene and most potent prince George the 3rd, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, duke of Brunswick and Luneburg, arch-treasurer and elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc. and the most serene and most potent prince Charles the 3rd, by the grace of God, King of Spain and of the Indies etc, being equally desirous to put an end to the war, which for several years past afflicted their respective dominions, accepted the offer which their Majesties, the Emperor of the Romans, and the Empress of all the Russias, made to them of their interposition and of their mediation; but their Britannic and Catholic Majesties, animated with a mutual desire of accelerating the re-establishment of peace, communicated to each other their laudable intention; which Heaven so far blessed, that they proceeded to lay the foundations of peace, by signing preliminary articles at Versailles the 20th of January, in the present year.

Their said Majesties, the King of Great Britain and the Catholic King, thinking it incumbent upon them to give their Imperial Majesties a signal proof of their gratitude for the generous offer of their mediation, invited them in concert to concur in the completion of the great and salutary work of peace, by taking part, as mediators, in the definitive treaty to be concluded between their Britannic and Catholic Majesties.

Their said Imperial Majesties having readily accepted that invitation, they have named as their representatives; viz. his Majesty the Emperor of the Romans, the most illustrious and most excellent lord Florimond, count Mercy Argenteau, viscount of Loo, baron of Crichegnée, knight of the Golden Fleece, chamberlain, actual privy councillor of state to his Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty, and his ambassador to his most Christian Majesty; and her Majesty the Empress of all the Russias, the most illustrious and most excellent lord prince Iwan Bariatinskoy, lieutenant-general of the forces of her Imperial Majesty of all the Russias, knight of the orders of St. Anne and of the Swedish Sword, and her minister plenipotentiary to his most Christian Majesty, and the lord Arcadi de Marcoff, councillor of state to her Imperial Majesty of all the Russias, and her minister plenipotentiary to his most Christian Majesty.

In consequence, their said Majesties, the King of Great Britain and the most Christian King, have named and constituted for their plenipotentiaries, charged with the concluding and signing of the definitive treaty of peace; viz. the King of Great Britain, the most illustrious and most excellent lord George, duke and earl of Manchester, viscount Mandeville, baron of Kimbolton, lord lieutenant and custos rotulorum of the county of Huntingdon, actual privy councillor to his Britannic Majesty, and his ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to his most Christian Majesty; and the Catholic King, the most illustrious and most excellent lord Peter Paul Abarca de Bolea Ximenes d’Urrea etc. count of Aranda and Castel Florido, marquis of Torres, of Villanan, and Rupit, viscount of Rueda and Yock, baron of the baronies of Gavin, Sietamo, Clamosa, Eripol Trazmos, La Mata de Castil-Viejo, Antillou, La Almolda, Cortés, Jorva, St. Genis, Rabovillet, Arcau and Ste. Colome de Farnés, lord of the tenance and honour of Alcalatén, the valley of Rodellar, the castles and towns of Maella, Mesones, Tiurana, and Villa Plana, Taradel and Viladrau, etc. rico-hombre in Arragon by descent, grandee of Spain of the first class, knight of the order of the Golden Fleece, and of that of the Holy Ghost, gentleman of the King’s chamber in employment, captain-general of his forces, and his ambassador to the most Christian King; who, after having exchanged their respective full powers, have agreed upon the following Articles:

Art. I.
 There shall be a Christian, universal, and perpetual peace, as well by sea as by land, and a sincere and constant friendship shall be re-established, between their Britannic and Catholic Majesties, and between the heirs and successors, kingdoms, dominions, provinces, countries, subjects, and vassals, of what quality or condition soever they be, without exception, either of places or persons; so that the high contracting parties shall give the greatest attention to the maintaining between themselves and their said dominions and subjects, this reciprocal friendship and intercourse, without permitting hereafter, on either part, any kind of hostilities to be committed, either by sea or by land, for any cause or under any pretence whatsoever; and they shall carefully avoid, for the future, every thing which might prejudice the union happily re-established; endeavouring, on the contrary, to procure reciprocally for each other, on every occasion, whatever may contribute to their mutual glory, interests, and advantage; without giving any assistance or protection, directly or indirectly, to those who would do any injury to either of the high contracting parties. There shall be a general oblivion and amnesty of every thing which may have been done or committed, before or since the commencement of the war which is just ended.

Art. 2. The treaties of Westphalia of 1648; those of Madrid of 1667, and of 1670; those of the peace and of commerce of Utrecht of 1713; that of Baden of 1714; of Madrid of 1715; of Seville of 1729; the definitive treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748; the treaty of Madrid of 1750; and the definitive treaty of Paris of 1763, serve as a basis and foundation to the peace, and to the present treaty; and for this purpose, they are all renewed and confirmed, in the best form, as well as all the treaties in general which subsisted between the high contracting parties before the war, and particularly all those which are specified and renewed in the aforesaid definitive treaty of Paris, in the best form, and as if they were herein inserted word for word; so that they are to be exactly observed for the future in their full tenor, and religiously executed by both parties, in all the points which shall not be derogated from by the present treaty of peace.

Art. 3. All the prisoners taken on either side, as well by land as by sea, and the hostages carried away or given, during the war, and to this day, shall be restored, without ransom, in six weeks at latest, to be computed from the day of the exchange of the present treaty; each crown respectively discharging the advances which shall have been made for the subsistence and maintenance of their prisoners, by the sovereign of the country where they shall have been detained, according to the receipts, attested accounts, and other authentic vouchers, which shall be furnished on each side; and sureties shall be reciprocally given for the payment of the debts which the prisoners may have contracted in the countries where they may have been detained, until their entire release. And all ships, as well men of war as merchant ships, which may have been taken since the expiration of the terms agreed upon for the cessation of hostilities by sea, shall likewise be restored, bona fide, with all their crews and cargoes. And the execution of this article shall be proceeded upon immediately after the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty.

Art. 4. The King of Great Britain cedes, in full right to his Catholic Majesty, the island of Minorca; provided that the same stipulations inserted in the following article shall take place in favour of the British subjects, with regard to the abovementioned island.

Art. 5. His Britannic Majesty likewise cedes and guarantees, in full right, to his Catholic Majesty, East Florida, as also West Florida. His Catholic Majesty agrees that the British inhabitants, or others who may have been subjects of the King of Great Britain in the said countries, may retire in full security and liberty, where they shall think proper, and may sell their estates and remove their effects, as well as their persons, without being restrained in their emigration, under any pretence whatsoever, except on account of debts, or criminal prosecutions; the term limited for this emigration being fixed to the space of eighteen months, to be computed from the day of the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty; but if, from the value of the possessions of the English proprietors, they should not be able to dispose of them within the said term, then his Catholic Majesty shall grant them a prolongation proportioned to that end. It is further stipulated, that his Britannic Majesty shall have the power of removing from East Florida all the effects which may belong to him, whether artillery or other matters.

Art. 6. The intention of the two high contracting parties being to prevent, as much as possible, all the causes of complaint and misunderstanding heretofore occasioned by the cutting of wood for dying, or logwood; and several English settlements having been formed and extended, under that pretence, upon the Spanish continent; it is expressly agreed, that his Britannic Majesty’s subjects shall have the right of cutting, loading, and carrying away logwood, in the districts lying between the rivers Wallis or Bellize, and Rio Hondo, taking the course of the said two rivers for unalterable boundaries, so as that the navigation of them be common to both nations; to wit, by the river Wallis or Bellize, from the sea, ascending as far as opposite to a lake or inlet which runs into the land, and forms an isthmus, or neck, with another similar inlet, which comes from the side of Rio Nuevo or New River; so that the line of separation shall pass straight across the said isthmus, and meet another lake formed by the water of Rio Nuevo, or New River, at its current. The said line shall continue with the course of Rio Nuevo, descending as far as opposite to a river, the source of which is marked in the map, between Rio Nuevo and Rio Hondo, and which empties itself into Rio Hondo; which river shall also serve as a common boundary as far as its junction with Rio Hondo to the sea, as the whole is marked on the map which the plenipotentiaries of the two crowns have thought proper to make use of, for ascertaining the points agreed upon, to the end that a good correspondence my reign between the two nations, and that the English workmen, cutters, and labourers, may not trespass from an uncertainty of the boundaries. The respective commissaries shall fix upon convenient places, in the territory above marked out, in order that his Britannic Majesty’s subjects, employed in the felling of logwood, may, without interruption, build therein houses and magazines necessary for themselves, their families, and their effects; and his Catholic Majesty assures to them the enjoyment of all that is expressed in the present article; provided that these stipulations hall not be considered as derogating in any wise from his rights of sovereignty. Therefore all the English, who may be dispersed in any other parts, whether on the Spanish continent, or in any of the islands whatsoever, dependent on the aforesaid Spanish continent, and for whatever reason it might be, without exception, shall retire within the district which has been above described, in the space of eighteen months, to be computed from the exchange of the ratifications; and for this purpose orders shall be issued on the part of his Britannic Majesty; and on that of his Catholic Majesty, his governors shall be ordered to grant to the English dispersed every convenience possible for their removing to the settlement agreed upon by the present article, or for their retiring wherever they shall think proper. It is likewise stipulated, that if any fortifications should actually have been heretofore erected within the limits marked out, his Britannic Majesty shall cause them all to be demolished; and he will order his subjects not to build any new ones. The English inhabitants, who shall settle there for the cutting of logwood, shall be permitted to enjoy a free fishery for their subsistence, on the coasts of the districts above agreed on, or of the islands situated opposite thereto, without being in any wise disturbed on that account; provided they do not establish themselves, in any manner, on the said islands.

Art. 7. His Catholic Majesty shall restore to Great Britain the islands of Providence and the Bahamas, without exception, in the same condition they were in when they were conquered by the arms of the king of Spain. The same stipulations inserted in the fifth article of this treaty shall take place in favour of the Spanish subjects, with regard to the islands mentioned in the present article.

Art. 8. All the countries and territories, which may have been or which may be conquered in any part of the world whatsoever, by the arms of his Britannic Majesty, as well as by those of his Catholic Majesty, which are not included in the present treaty, neither under the head of cessions, nor under the head of restitutions, shall be restored without difficulty, and without requiring any compensation.

Art. 9. Immediately after the exchange of the ratification, the two high contracting parties shall name commissaries to treat concerning new arrangements of commerce between the two nations, on the basis of reciprocity and mutual convenience; which arrangements shall be settled and concluded within the space of two years, to be computed from the 1st of January, 1784.

Art. 10. As it is necessary to appoint a certain period for the restitutions and evacuations to be made, by each of the high contracting parties, it is agreed, that the King of Great Britain shall cause East Florida to be evacuated three months after the ratification of the present treaty, or sooner, if it can be done. The King of Great Britain shall, in like manner, enter again into possession of the islands of Providence and the Bahamas, without exception, in the space of three months after the ratification of the present treaty, or sooner, if it can be done. In consequence whereof, the necessary orders shall be sent by each of the high contracting parties, with reciprocal passports for the ships which shall carry them, immediately after the ratification of the present treaty.

Art. 11. Their Britannic and Catholic Majesties promise to observe sincerely, and bona fide, all the articles contained and established in the present treaty; and they will not suffer the same to be infringed, directly or indirectly, by their respective subjects; and the said high contracting parties guarantee to each other, generally and reciprocally, all the stipulations of the present treaty.

Art. 12. The solemn ratifications of the present treaty, prepared in good and due form, shall be exchanged in this city of Versailles, between the high contracting parties, in the space of one month, or sooner if possible, to be computed from the day of the signature of the present treaty. In witness whereof, we, the underwritten ambassadors extraordinary, and ministers plenipotentiary, have signed with our hands, in their names, and by virtue of our respective full powers, the present definitive treaty, and have cause the seals of our arms to be affixed thereto.

Done at Versailles the 3rd day of September, 1783


Le Comte d’Aranda

Separate Articles

I. Some of the titles made use of by the contracting parties, whether in the full powers and other instruments, during the course of the negotiation, or in the preamble of the present treaty, not being generally acknowledged, it has been agreed that no prejudice shall ever result therefrom to either of the said contracting parties; and that the titles taken or omitted, on either side, upon occasion of the said negotiation, and of the present treaty, shall not be cited, or quoted as a precedent.

II. It has been agreed and determined, that the French language, made use of in all the copies of the present treaty, shall not form an example which may be alledged or quoted as a precedent, or in any manner prejudice either of the contracting powers; and that they shall conform, for the future, to what has been observed, and ought to be observed, with regard to and on the part of powers, who are in the practice and possession of giving and receiving copies of like treaties in a different language from the French; the present treaty having, nevertheless, the same force and virtue, as if the aforesaid practice had been therein observed.

In witness whereof, we the underwritten ambassador extraordinary, and ministers plenipotentiary of their Britannic and Catholic Majesties, have signed the present separate articles, and have caused the seals of our arms to be affixed thereto.

Done at Versailles, the 3rd of September 1783.

Le Comte d’Aranda


John William Bailly  15 January 2023

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