Prussia 1701-1795 Austria 1740-1790

The War of Bavarian Succession 1778-1779

Also referred to as the Potato War

A.) The Diplomatic Pre-History of the War

On Dec. 30th 1777 Maximilian Joseph, Duke Elect of Bavaria died, and with him the Bavarian line of the House of Wittelsbach ended. Charles Theodor of the Pfalz line of the House of Wittelsbach claimed succession; Austria occupied Lower Bavaria to Austria; Charles Theodor offered to swap Bavaria to Austria for the Austrian Netherlands. (He immediately ceded Lower Bavaria in return for Austrian recognition of his claim, in the Vienna Convention, January 3rd 1778).
Karl Theodor had no sons; his heir presumptive, Duke Karl von Zweibrücken, advised by King Frederick the Great of Prussia, protested the transfer. Prussia (July 3rd 1778) and Saxony declared war on Austria. Prussia's main reason to interfere was to prevent Austria from getting stronger.

B.) The Military Course of Events

Prusso-Saxon forces invaded Bohemia in July 1778. The Austrian forces were commanded by Laudon and Lacy. With the winter approaching, Prussian forces withdrew to Silesia. No battles were fought; the conflict was solved, with Russian and French mediation (the Baron de Breteuil the French negotiator and architect of the peace), at the Congress of Teschen (May 13th 1779).

C.) The Legacy

Austria renounced its claim on Lower Bavaria, but held on to the Innviertel. Lower Bavaria remained part of the Duchy of Bavaria (which Duke Karl von Zweibrücken never inherited). Saxony received an indemnity. Austria accepted Prussia's claim to inherit the counties of Ansbach and Bayreuth when the line of counts became extinct, which occurred in 1791.
The war was part of the Prusso-Austrian contest for supremacy in Germany. Austria in 1784/85 offered to swap the Habsburg Natherlands (roughly equal to modern Belgium) for old Bavaria (a region much less important economically, but easier to defend and asministrate from Vienna); the deal did not materialize.

War of Bavarian Succession 1778-1779, from War Zone by
Encyclopedic articles from, from infoplease
Bayerischer Erbfolgekrieg, from aeiou, article in English
History of Bavaria, by Joel A. Ohmer, mostly on the War of Bavarian succession
The Baron de Breteuil and the Pavillion of Breteuil, from History of the Pavillion of Breteuil
Der Friede von Teschen und seine Bedeutung fuer Mecklenburg, from Jahrbuch, the Peace of Teschen and its importance for Mecklenburg (failed recognition for M. claims on the county of Leuchtenberg)
Article : Wenzel Anton Kaunitz, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 edition; Kaunitz was chancellor of state and minister of foreign affairs since 1753; he came up with the plan to swap the Habsburg Netherlands for Lower Bavaria and is credited with the gain of the Innviertel
Aus der heimatlichen Historik, from Heimatblatt fur die Kreise Hohenelbe und Trautenau , report on military action in Lauterwasser/Sudetenland in August/September 1778, in German.
Articles Kartoffelkrieg (Potato War), Bayrischer Erbfolgekrieg (Bavarian War of Succession), from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888-1890 edition, in German
REFERENCE Andreas Kraus, Geschichte Bayerns von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (History of Bavaria, from the origins to the present day), München : Beck (1983) 2nd edition 1988, in German, pp.358-359

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 19th 2004

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