The War of the Bavarian Succession (July 1778 – May 1779) was fought between the Habsburg Monarchy and a Saxon–Prussian alliance to prevent the Habsburg acquisition of the Duchy of Bavaria. The war had no battles beyond a few minor skirmishes, but still resulted in significant casualties, as several thousand soldiers died from disease and starvation. Reflecting the soldiers' frustrating quest for food and forage, the conflict was also called the Kartoffelkrieg (Potato War) in Prussia and Saxony; in Habsburg Austria, it was sometimes called the Zwetschgenrummel (Plum Fuss).
On 30 December 1777, Maximilian Joseph, the last of the junior line of Wittelsbach, died of smallpox, leaving no children. Charles IV Theodore, a scion of a senior branch of the House of Wittelsbach, held the closest claim of kinship, but he, too, had no legitimate children to succeed him. His cousin, Charles II August, Duke of Zweibrücken, therefore had a legitimate legal claim as Charles Theodore's heir presumptive. Across Bavaria's southern border, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, coveted the Bavarian territory and had married Maximilian Joseph's sister Maria Josepha in 1765 to strengthen any claim he could extend. His agreement with the heir, Charles Theodore, to partition the territory did not take into account any claims of the heir presumptive, Charles August.
The acquisition of territory in the German-speaking states was an essential part of Joseph's policy to expand his family's influence in Central Europe. For Frederick II of Prussia, Joseph's claim threatened the Hohenzollern ascendancy in German politics, but he questioned whether or not he should preserve the status quo through war or through diplomacy. Empress Maria Theresa, who co-ruled with Joseph, considered any conflict over the Bavarian electorate not worth the cost. Neither Maria Theresa nor Frederick saw any point in pursuing hostilities. Joseph would not drop his claim, despite his mother's insistence. Frederick Augustus I of Saxony wanted to preserve the territorial integrity of the Duchy for his brother-in-law, Charles August, and had no interest in seeing the Habsburgs acquire additional territory on his southern and western borders. France became involved to maintain the balance of power. Finally, Catherine II of Russia's threat to intervene on the side of Prussia with 50,000 Russian troops forced Joseph to reconsider his position. With Catherine's assistance, he and Frederick negotiated a solution to the problem of the Bavarian succession with the Treaty of Teschen, signed on 13 May 1779.
For some historians, the War of the Bavarian Succession was the last of the old-style Cabinet Wars (Kabinettskriege) of the Ancien Régime in which troops maneuvered while diplomats traveled between capitals to resolve their monarchs' complaints. The subsequent French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars differed in scope, strategy, organization and tactics. Historians of 19th- and 20th-century Germany have also found the roots of German dualism in this brief war.
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... When the British had been Austria's allies, Austria could count on British support in its wars, but Britain was now allied with Prussia ... Russia, which also had been an important Austrian ally for most of the Seven Years War, sought opportunities for expansion at the expense of its weak neighbors ... The Bavarian succession crisis provided Joseph with a viable opportunity to consolidate his influence in the Central European states, to bolster his ...
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