War of The Spanish Succession

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the feared possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch.

Spain suffered a steep decline in the second half of the 17th century, particularly under the reign of its last Habsburg king Charles II, to the point that by 1700 its neglected forces were barely considered those of a first rate power. However, it still possessed an immense territorial domain, including Milan and southern Italy, the southern Netherlands, the Philippines, vast territories in the Americas, and various other smaller territories and islands, making it by far the largest and most important global empire. For this reason, other European powers felt that the possible unification of Spain with France would drastically alter the European balance of power in favour of the French throne. The war was fought primarily by forces supporting the Bourbon candidate – the Spanish loyal to Philip V, France, and the Electorate of Bavaria, together known as the Two Crowns – against those supporting the Austrian candidate – the so-called Grand Alliance among the Spanish loyal to Archduke Charles, the Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Portugal and the Duchy of Savoy.

The war was fought mostly in Europe but included Queen Anne's War in North America. 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. Several battles are considered classics in history, notably the Grand Alliance victories at Blenheim (1704) and Ramillies (1706), which drove the French forces from Germany and the Netherlands, or the French victory at Almansa (1707). 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, such as the decisive victory of Denain (1712), 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. 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. 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.

Read more about War Of The Spanish Succession:  Background, Prelude, Early Fighting: 1701–1703, Final Phase: 1710–1714, West Indies and South America, North America, Aftermath

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War Of The Spanish Succession - Aftermath
... was recognized as King Philip V of Spain, but renounced his place in the French line of succession, thereby precluding the union of the French and Spanish crowns (although ... He retained the Spanish overseas empire, but ceded the Southern Netherlands, Naples, Milan, and Sardinia to Austria Sicily and parts of the Milanese to Savoy ... he granted the British the exclusive right to non-Spanish slave trading in Spanish America for thirty years, the so-called asiento ...
Spain–United Kingdom Relations - History - War of The Spanish Succession
... The War of the Spanish Succession saw the invasion of Spain by the Holy Roman Empire (mainly Austria and Prussia, as well as other minor German states ... In this war, Spain lost Minorca and Gibraltar to the British but the Bourbon dynasty remains on the Spanish throne until this day ...
Leopold I, Prince Of Anhalt-Dessau - Military Career - War of The Spanish Succession
... Leopold's career as a soldier in important commands began with the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701 ... He had many improvements made in the Prussian army, notably the introduction of the iron ramrod about 1700, and he now took the field at the head of a Prussian corps on the Rhine, serving at the sieges of Kaiserswerth and Venlo in 1702 ...
Louis D'Aubusson De La Feuillade - War of The Spanish Succession
... After the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, La Feuillade obtained a brigadier's commission and, a year later, that of a marechal de camp ...

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