Amongst the many ill consequences of the treaty of Utrecht, it was within a point of giving my uncle Toby a surfeit of sieges; and though he recovered his appetite afterwards, yet Calais itself left not a deeper scar in Mary’s heart, than Utrecht upon my uncle Toby’s. To the end of his life he never could hear Utrecht mentioned upon any account whatever,—or so much as read an article of news extracted out of the Utrecht Gazette, without fetching a sigh, as if his heart would break in twain.
Now the fourth largest city in The Netherlands, Utrecht enjoys an illustrious history spanning back to Roman times, and subsequently coloured by its bustling trade thanks to its location on the banks of the Rhine.
As a fortified town it played a key role in seventeenth-century warfare, but also later in the peace negotiations which brought an end to the War of the Spanish Succession. It was here that, in 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht – part of a series of peace treaties negotiated from April 1713-February 1715 – was signed, bringing an end to France’s aim to become the dominant European power.
In Tristram Shandy, the peace spells disaster for Toby’s militaristic interests: ‘Amongst [its] many ill consequences’, it brings a hasty conclusion to his fantasised warfare enacted on the bowling-green. With no real-life wars to mimic in the safety of his garden, Toby is as one ‘naked and defenceless’, being without ‘a siege out of his head’.
About the conference venue
The conference will be hosted in the Literatuurhuis in the centre of Utrecht’s old town.
Find maps of Utrecht here.