War of The Bavarian Succession - Diplomacy - Interested Parties

Interested Parties

Prussia also expressed an interest in the disposition of the duchy. Count Karl-Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein, First Minister (or prime minister) for Frederick the Great, believed that any Austrian acquisition in Bavaria would shift the balance of power in the Holy Roman Empire, diminishing Prussia's influence. Prussia's recent gains had been hard-won. Thirty years earlier, Frederick had engaged in protracted wars in Silesia and Bohemia, resulting in Prussia's annexation of most of Silesia. In the Silesian wars and the Seven Years War, he had earned a new, if grudging, respect for his kingdom's military and diplomatic prowess from the European power-states of France, Russia, Britain and Austria. To protect Prussia's status and territory, Finck and Frederick constructed an alliance with the Electorate of Saxony, ostensibly to defend the rights of Charles II August, Duke of Zweibrücken, Charles Theodore's heir presumptive.

Although equally interested in maintaining its influence among the German states, France had a double problem. As a supporter of the rebellious British colonies in North America, it was in France's interest to avoid a continental engagement. France could do more damage to the British in North America than in Europe. The diplomatic realignment in 1756 had overthrown 200 years of French foreign policy that united the French Crown and the French populace against the House of Habsburg, arguably bringing to France massive territorial gains in repeated wars with Habsburg Austria and Habsburg Spain. A reversal of this policy in 1756 tied French foreign policy in Europe to Vienna. Despite this restructuring, there existed in the French Court at Versailles, and in France generally, a strong anti-Austrian sentiment. The diplomatic revolution of 1756, sealed in 1770 with the personal union (the diplomatic term for marriage) of Louis, the Dauphin of Viennois, and the Austrian Archduchess Marie Antoinette, was considered both a political and matrimonial mésalliance in the eyes of many Frenchmen. It flew in the face of 200 years of French foreign policy, in which the central axiom "had been hostility to the House of Habsburg." The French foreign minister, Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes, maintained deep-seated hostility to the Austrians that pre-dated the alliance of 1756. He had not approved of the shift of France's traditional bonds, and considered the Austrians untrustworthy. He managed to extricate France from immediate military obligations to Austria by 1778.

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