Third Treaty of San Ildefonso

Last updated

Third Treaty of San Ildefonso
North America; Louisiana-New Spain in white
ContextSpain agrees to exchange Louisiana with France for territories in Italy
Signed1 October 1800 (1800-10-01) [1]
Location Real Sitio de San Ildefonso

The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso was a secret agreement signed on 1 October 1800 between the Spanish Empire and the First French Republic by which Spain agreed in principle to exchange its North American colony of Louisiana for territories in Tuscany. The terms were later confirmed by the March 1801 Treaty of Aranjuez.



For much of the 18th century, France and Spain were allies, but after the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, Spain joined the War of the First Coalition against the French First Republic but was defeated in the War of the Pyrenees. In August 1795, Spain and France agreed to the Peace of Basel, with Spain ceding its half of the island of Hispaniola, the modern Dominican Republic. [2]

Charles Talleyrand, long-serving French Foreign Minister; the Treaty was part of a complex web of related agreements Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord by Francois Gerard, 1808.jpg
Charles Talleyrand, long-serving French Foreign Minister; the Treaty was part of a complex web of related agreements

In the 1797 Second Treaty of San Ildefonso, Spain allied with France in the War of the Second Coalition and declared war on Britain. This resulted in the loss of Trinidad and, more seriously, Menorca, which Britain occupied from 1708–1782 and whose recovery was the major achievement of Spain's participation in the 1778–1783 Anglo-French War. Its loss damaged the prestige of the Spanish government, while the British naval blockade severely impacted the economy, which was highly dependent on trade with its south American colonies, particularly the import of silver from Mexico. [3]

The effect was to place the Spanish government under severe political and financial pressure, the national debt increasing eightfold between 1793 and 1798. [4] Louisiana was only part of Spain's immense empire in the Americas, which it received as a result of the 1763 Treaty of Paris. [lower-alpha 1] Preventing encroachment by American settlers into the Mississippi Basin was costly and risked conflict with the US, whose merchant ships Spain relied on to evade the British blockade. [5]

Louis Berthier, French signatory Louisberthier1.jpg
Louis Berthier, French signatory

Colonies were viewed as valuable assets; the loss of the sugar islands of Saint-Domingue, Martinique, and Guadeloupe between 1791–1794 had a huge impact on French business. [lower-alpha 2] Restoring them was a priority and when Napoleon seized power in the November 1799 Coup of 18 Brumaire, he and his deputy Charles Talleyrand emphasised French expansion overseas.

Their strategy had a number of parts, one being the 1798–1801 Egyptian campaign, intended in part to strengthen French trading interests in the region. In South America, Talleyrand sought to move the border between French Guiana and Portuguese Brazil south to the Araguari or Amapá River, taking in large parts of Northern Brazil. [lower-alpha 3] [6] A third was the restoration of New France in North America, lost after the 1756–1763 Seven Years' War, with Louisiana providing raw materials for French plantations in the Caribbean. [7]

The combination of French ambition and Spanish weakness made the return of Louisiana attractive to both, especially as Spain was being drawn into disputes with the US over navigation rights on the Mississippi River. [7] Talleyrand claimed French possession of Louisiana would allow them to protect Spanish South America from both Britain and the US. [lower-alpha 4]


Mariano Luis de Urquijo, Spanish signatory Mariano Luis de Urquijo (Museo del Prado).jpg
Mariano Luis de Urquijo, Spanish signatory

The Treaty was negotiated by French general Louis-Alexandre Berthier and the Spanish former Chief Minister Mariano Luis de Urquijo. In addition to Louisiana, Berthier was instructed to demand the Spanish colonies of East Florida and West Florida, plus ten Spanish warships. [8]

Urquijo rejected the request for the Floridas but agreed to Louisiana plus "...six ships of war in good condition built for seventy-four guns, armed and equipped and ready to receive French crews and supplies." In return, Charles IV wanted compensation for his son-in-law Louis, Infanta Duke of Parma, since France wanted to annex his inheritance of the Duchy of Parma. [9]

Details were vague, Clause II of the Treaty simply stating 'it may consist of Tuscany...or the three Roman legations or of any other continental provinces of Italy which form a rounded state.' Urquijo insisted Spain would hand over Louisiana and the ships only once France confirmed which Italian territories it would receive in return. Finally, the terms reaffirmed the alliance between France and Spain agreed upon in the 1796 Second Treaty of San Ildefonso. [10]


Louis of Parma; France agreed to create an Italian Kingdom for Charles IV's son-in-law Luis de Etruria.jpg
Louis of Parma; France agreed to create an Italian Kingdom for Charles IV's son-in-law

On 9 February 1801, France and the Austrian Emperor Francis II signed the Treaty of Lunéville, clearing the way for the Treaty of Aranjuez in March 1801. This confirmed the preliminary terms agreed at Idelfonso and created the short-lived Kingdom of Etruria for Maria Luisa's son-in-law Louis. [11]

Charles Leclerc, leader of the Saint-Domingue expedition; he died of yellow fever, like most of his army General CHARLES-EMMANUEL LECLERC (1772-1802).jpg
Charles Leclerc, leader of the Saint-Domingue expedition; he died of yellow fever, like most of his army

The Treaty has traditionally been seen as extremely one-sided in favour of France, but modern historians are less critical. In reality, Spain exercised effective control only over a small part of the territory included in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase while an attempt to control US expansion into Spanish territories by the 1795 Pinckney's Treaty proved ineffective. [12] Spain's Chief Minister Manuel Godoy saw disposal as a necessity, later justifying it at length in his Memoirs. [lower-alpha 5] [13]

From 1798-1800, France and the US waged an undeclared war at sea, the so-called Quasi-War, which was ended by the Convention of 1800 or Treaty of Mortefontaine. The US viewed French ambitions in North America with great concern, since with British Canada to the north, they wanted to avoid an aggressive and powerful France replacing Spain in the south. [14] For commercial reasons, Napoleon wanted to re-establish France in North America, the November 1801 Saint-Domingue expedition being the first step. [15] The March 1802 Treaty of Amiens ended the War of the Second Coalition and in October, Spain transferred Louisiana to France. [16]

However, by now it was clear the Saint-Domingue expedition was a catastrophic failure; between May 1802 and January 1803, a yellow fever epidemic killed over 40,000, including Napoleon's brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc. [17] This made Louisiana irrelevant and with France and Britain once more on the verge of hostilities, France sold Louisiana to the US for $15 million in April 1803, much of the purchase price being borrowed from British bankers. [18]

See also


  1. Their ally France ceded it as compensation for Spanish concessions to Britain elsewhere.
  2. Losses were not confined to plantation owners in the Caribbean but inlaced slave traders in colonies like Senegal that supplied labour. France abolished slavery in 1794 but reimposed it in 1802 in French sugar-cane islands.
  3. Terms were contained in the draft 1797 Treaty of Paris which was never approved although similar conditions were imposed on Portugal in the 1801 Treaty of Madrid
  4. Letter to Urquijo; ...the power of America is bounded by the limit which it may suit the interests and the tranquillity of France and Spain to assign here. The French Republic... will be the wall of brass forever impenetrable to the combined efforts of England and America.
  5. Godoy wrote ...(Louisiana) not yielding much to our treasury, nor to our trade, and generating sizeable expenses in money and soldiers, ...the return...can be deemed as a gain, instead of a sacrifice...(Tuscany), cultivation perfect, industry flourishing, trade expanded...a million and a half inhabitants; state revenues of about three million pesos fuertes... The weakness of this argument is France was effectively returning territory to those it had taken it from in the first place.

Related Research Articles

Louisiana Purchase Acquisition by the United States of America of Frances claim to the territory of Louisiana

The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition of the territory of Louisiana by the United States from France in 1803. In return for fifteen million dollars, or approximately eighteen dollars per square mile, the United States nominally acquired a total of 828,000 sq mi. However, France only controlled a small fraction of this area, with most of it settled by Native Americans; for the majority of the area, what the United States bought was the "preemptive" right to obtain Native American lands by treaty or by conquest, to the exclusion of other colonial powers. The total cost of all subsequent treaties and financial settlements over the land has been estimated to be around 2.6 billion dollars.

West Florida region

West Florida was a region on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico that underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. As its name suggests, it was formed out of the western part of former Spanish Florida, along with lands taken from French Louisiana; Pensacola became West Florida's capital. The colony included about two thirds of what is now the Florida Panhandle, as well as parts of the modern U.S. states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Pinckneys Treaty 1795 treaty between the US and Spain

Pinckney's Treaty, also commonly known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo or the Treaty of Madrid, was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on October 27, 1795 and established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain. It also defined the border between the United States and Spanish Florida, and guaranteed the United States navigation rights on the Mississippi River. With this agreement, the first phase of the ongoing border dispute between the two nations in this region, commonly called the West Florida Controversy, came to a close.

War of the Oranges conflict

The War of the Oranges was a brief conflict in 1801 in which Spanish forces, instigated by the government of France, and ultimately supported by the French military, invaded Portugal. It was a precursor to the Peninsular Wars, resulting in the Treaty of Badajoz, the loss of Portuguese territory, in particular Olivenza, as well as ultimately setting the stage for the complete invasion of the Iberian Peninsula by French forces.

Convention of 1800 Treaty between the U.S. and France

The Convention of 1800 or the Treaty of Mortefontaine between the United States of America and France ended the 1798–1800 Quasi-War, an undeclared naval war waged primarily in the Caribbean, and terminated the 1778 Treaty of Alliance.

The Spanish–Portuguese treaty of 1750 or Treaty of Madrid was a document signed in the Spanish capital by Ferdinand VI of Spain and John V of Portugal on 13 January 1750, to end armed conflict over a border dispute between the Spanish and Portuguese empires in South America in the vicinity of the Uruguay River, an area known as the Banda Oriental. The treaty established borders between the Spanish and Portuguese empires, ceding much of what is today's country of Brazil to the Portuguese.

Louisiana (New France) Administrative district of New France

Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control 1682 to 1762 and 1801 (nominally) to 1803, the area was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.

West Florida Controversy

The West Florida Controversy refers to two border disputes that involved Spain and the United States in relation to the region known as West Florida over a period of 37 years. The first dispute commenced immediately after Spain received the colonies of West and East Florida from the Kingdom of Great Britain following the American Revolutionary War. Initial disagreements were settled with Pinckney's Treaty of 1795.

Pacte de Famille series of 3 alliances (1773, 1743, 1761) between the Bourbon kings of France and Spain

The Pacte de Famille is one of three separate, but similar alliances between the Bourbon kings of France and Spain.

First Treaty of San Ildefonso

The First Treaty of San Ildefonso was signed on 1 October 1777 between the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire. It settled long-running territorial disputes between the two countries in South America, primarily in the Río de la Plata region.

Treaty of Aranjuez (1801)

The Treaty of Aranjuez (1801) was agreed on 21 March 1801 by France and Spain. It confirmed the terms of the secret Third Treaty of San Ildefonso dated 1 October 1800, in which Spain agreed to exchange its North American colony of Spanish Louisiana for territories in Tuscany.

Treaty of Aranjuez (1779)

The Treaty of Aranjuez (1779) was signed on 12 April 1779 by France and Spain. Under its terms, Spain agreed to support France in its war with Britain, in return for French assistance in recovering the former Spanish possessions of Menorca, Gibraltar and the Floridas.

Treaty of El Pardo (1778)

The Treaty of El Pardo signed on 11 March 1778 finalised colonial borders between Spain and Portugal in the Río de la Plata region of South America. Portugal acquired Spanish territories in South America, later on given to Brazil, Spain acquired Portuguese territories in Africa, today known as the independent state of Equatorial Guinea.

Louisiana (New Spain) Administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain

Spanish Louisiana was a governorate and administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1763 to 1801 that consisted of a vast territory in the center of North America encompassing the western basin of the Mississippi River plus New Orleans. The area had originally been claimed and controlled by France, which had named it La Louisiane in honor of King Louis XIV in 1682. Spain secretly acquired the territory from France near the end of the Seven Years' War by the terms of the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762). The actual transfer of authority was a slow process, and after Spain finally attempted to fully replace French authorities in New Orleans in 1767, French residents staged an uprising which the new Spanish colonial governor did not suppress until 1769. Spain also took possession of the trading post of St. Louis and all of Upper Louisiana in the late 1760s, though there was little Spanish presence in the wide expanses of the "Illinois Country".

The Treaty of Florence, which followed the Armistice of Foligno, brought to an end the war between the French Republic and the Kingdom of Naples, one of the Wars of the French Revolution. Forced by the French military presence, Naples ceded some territories in the Tyrrhenian sea and accepted French garrisons to their ports on the Adriatic sea. All Neapolitan harbours were closed to British and Ottoman vessels.

Treaty of Badajoz (1801) peace treaty

The Treaty of Badajoz was signed by Spain and Portugal on 6 June 1801. Portugal ceded the border town of Olivença to Spain and closed its ports to British military and commercial shipping.

Treaty of Madrid (1801) treaty signed in 1801 between John VI of Portugal and representatives from the French Republic

The 1801 Treaty of Madrid was signed on 29 September 1801 by Portugal and France. Portugal made territorial concessions to France in Northern Brazil, closed its ports to British shipping and paid an indemnity of 20 million francs.

Anglo-Spanish War (1796–1808) 1796–1808 war, part of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars

The Anglo-Spanish War was a conflict fought between 1796 and 1802, and again from 1804 to 1808, as part of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The war ended when an alliance was signed between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain, which was now under French invasion.

Manuel Godoy Prime Minister of Spain

Manuel Godoy y Álvarez de Faria, Prince of Peace, 1st Duke of Alcudia, 1st Duke of Sueca, 1st Baron of Mascalbó was First Secretary of State of Spain from 1792 to 1797 and from 1801 to 1808. He received many titles, including Príncipe de la Paz, by which he is widely known. He came to power at a young age as the favorite of the King and Queen. Despite multiple disasters, he maintained power. Many Spanish leaders blamed Godoy for the disastrous war with Britain that cut off Spain's Empire and ruined its finances.

Juan Manuel de Salcedo was the 11th and final governor of Spanish Louisiana, from 1801–1803. He was governor at the time of the cession of the Louisiana territory to France in fulfillment of the terms of the Treaty of San Ildefonso.


  1. "Treaty of San Ildefonso : October 1, 1800". The Avalon Project. Yale Law School.
  2. "Dominican Republic; Elections and Events 1791-1849". The Library, UC San Diego. Regents of the University of California. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  3. Sánchez, Rafael Torres (2015). Constructing a Fiscal Military State in Eighteenth Century Spain. AIAA. pp. 66 passim. ISBN   1137478659.
  4. Canga Argüelles, José (1826). Diccionario de hacienda (in Spanish). pp. 236–237.
  5. Maltby, William (2008). The Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire. Palgrave. p. 168. ISBN   1403917922.
  6. Hecht, Susanna (2013). The Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha. University of Chicago. pp. 113–114. ISBN   0226322815.
  7. 1 2 Kemp, Roger, ed. (2010). Documents of American Democracy. McFarland & Co. pp. 160–161. ISBN   0786442107.
  8. Rodriguez (ed), Junius P (2002). The Louisiana Purchase: A Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia. ABC Clio. p. 9. ISBN   0471191213.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. Tarver, Micheal Hn (Author, Editor), Slape, Emily (Author, Editor) (2016). The Spanish Empire; An Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 53. ISBN   161069421X.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. "Preliminary and Secret Treaty between the French Republic and His Catholic Majesty the King of Spain, Concerning the Aggrandizement of His Royal Highness the Infant Duke of Parma in Italy and the Retrocession of Louisiana". Yale Law School; Avalon Project Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  11. Charles Esdaile (14 June 2003). The Peninsular War: A New History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 7. ISBN   978-1-4039-6231-7 . Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  12. Maltby, William (2008). The Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire. Palgrave. p. 168. ISBN   1403917922.
  13. Godoy, Manuel (1836). Memoirs Of Don Manuel De Godoy: Prince Of The Peace, Duke Del Alcudia, Count D'everamonte Volume 2 (2012 ed.). Nabu. pp. 47–59. ISBN   1279296461.
  14. Kemp, Roger (ed) (2010). Documents of American Democracy. McFarland & Co. p. 160. ISBN   0786442107.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  15. Kemp, Roger (ed) (2010). Documents of American Democracy. McFarland & Co. pp. 160–161. ISBN   0786442107.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  16. Real cédula expedida en Barcelona, a 15 de octubre de 1802, para que se entregue a la Francia la colonia y provincia de la Luisiana. Coleccion histórica completa de los tratdos, convenciones, capitulaciones, armistricios, y otros actos diplomáticos de todos los estados: de la America Latina comprendidos entre el golfo de Méjico y el cabo de Hornos, desde el año de 1493 hasta nuestros dias, Volume 4 (in Spanish). Paris. 1862. pp. 326–328.
  17. Kohn, George (ed), Scully, Mary-Louise (author) (2007). Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence: From Ancient Times to the Present. Facts on File. p. 155. ISBN   978-0816069354 . Retrieved 10 October 2018.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  18. Docevski, Bojan. "The Louisiana Purchase: Napoleon, eager for money to wage war on Britain, sold the land to U.S.–and a British bank financed the sale". The Vintage News. Retrieved 10 October 2018.