Sustaining the Munster Peace

B. De Ridder, ‘Sustaining the Munster Peace: The Chambre Mi-Partie as an Experiment in Transnational Border Arbitration (1648-1675), in: Journal of Modern European History (1), 35-53.


With the end of the Eighty Years War in the Low Countries, the Spanish-Habsburg monarchy and the Dutch Republic needed to transform their war-torn frontier into a peaceful international border. The 1648 Peace of Munster therefore decreed that a Chambre Mi-Partie would be created, a court of arbitration intended to settle the remaining territorial issues and to resolve all peace-related conflicts between the Habsburg Netherlands and the United Provinces. This article argues that, in contrast to many other early modern attempts at arbitration, the court functioned relatively well and demonstrates how a transnational organisation could aid the peaceful maintenance of a new border. One of the main reasons that the Chambre Mi-Partie managed to assume this role was its structure as a transnational legal institution. Being composed of eight judges from each country – men who worked well together and took their neutrality seriously –, the court bridged the new divide. The court served as an important alternative to diplomatic conflict resolution and ensured that the numerous small border conflicts of the post-war period did not spill over into renewed violence

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