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War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714)

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War of the Spanish Succession

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The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have drastically altered the European balance of power. The war was fought primarily by forces supporting the unification, the Spanish loyal to Philip V, France and the Electorate of Bavaria, against those opposing unification, the Spanish loyal to Archduke Charles, the Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Portugal and the Duchy of Savoy. The forces were known as the Two Crowns and Grand Alliance, respectively.


The war was fought mostly in Europe but included Queen Anne's War in North America and it was marked by the military leadership of notable generals including the Duc de Villars, the Jacobite Duke of Berwick, the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy. It is also marked by several battles that are considered classics in history, notably the overwhelming Grand Alliance victories at Blenheim (1704) and Ramillies (1706) which drove the French forces from Germany and the Netherlands. Inconclusive fighting and skirmishing followed in Spain with little result, and the action turned to France. After considerable maneuvering and inconclusive action, the French were once again decisively defeated at the Battle of Oudenarde (1708). This string of losses prompted Louis XIV to start negotiations, but the terms were humiliating and he decided to press the war to its end.


This led to the Grand Alliance Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Malplaquet (1709) and a Two Crowns victory at the Battle of Villaviciosa (1710). Continued skirmishing, sieges and battles allowed the French to re-capture considerable ground, especially during 1712. At the same time, a series of events led to the Allied cause faltering in spite of their victories on the field. The recall of the Duke of Marlborough for political reasons, combined with a new parliament pressing for peace, dramatically reduced the effectiveness of the British forces. Peace negotiations between France and Britain started in secret. In 1711, Archduke Charles' elder brother Joseph died and the Archduke became Emperor Charles VI. Other members of the Allies were thus presented with the equally unsavoury possibility of a Spanish-German superpower in place of a Spanish-French one.


The war, over a decade long, was concluded by the treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714). As a result, Philip V remained King of Spain but was removed from the French line of succession, averting a union of the two kingdoms. The Austrians gained most of the Spanish territories in Italy and the Netherlands. France's hegemony over continental Europe was ended and the idea of a balance of power became a part of the international order.[5] Philip quickly revived Spanish ambition; taking advantage of the power vacuum caused by Louis XIV's death in 1715, Philip announced he would claim the French crown if the infant Louis XV died and attempted to reclaim Spanish territory in Italy, precipitating the War of the Quadruple Alliance in 1717.

Two Crowns : Spain and France

Countries

  • Spain
  • France

Commanders and Leaders

Grand Alliance

Countries

  • Holy Roman Empire
  • Great Britain
  • Dutch Republic
  • Portugal
  • Duchy of Savoy

Commanders and Leaders