Poland : Era of Liberty
Austria 1648-1740 Austrian Netherlands
France : Louis XV. Piemont-Sardinia
Bourbon Spain Both Sicilies

The War of Polish Succession 1733-1735

A.) The Diplomatic Pre-History of the War

King AUGUST II. THE STRONG of Poland, Duke Elector of Saxony, died in 1733. Poland was an elective kingdom; the majority of Poland's magnates in the Sejm elected STANISLAS LESZCZYNSKY king. Yet a minority elected the Duke Elector of Saxony, AUGUST III., son of August II., king. A Polish civil war broke out, in which foreign parties became involved; France supported Stanislas, Russia and Austria supported Augustus III. This Polish civil war turned into a European conflict, where France, Spain (Treaty of Escorial, Nov. 7th 1733) and Sardinia, with Polish King Stanislas Leszczynsky and his side, would oppose Austria, whose forces were joined by Russian (20,000, since 1734) and Prussian troops, and Saxony with Augustus III. side. Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden remained neutral.

B.) The Military Course of Events

War broke out on August 14th 1733. There were four principal theatres of war - Poland, the Rhine, Northern Italy and Sicily & Naples.
In the Polish theatre of war the decision fell with the surrender of Danzig (June 2nd 1734) to Russian forces.; King Stanislas fled to France.
At the Rhenish front, French forces laid siege to the fortress of PHILIPPSBURG, which fell on July 18th 1734. French forces had occupied the Duchy of Lorraine and the Habsburg Netherlands.
In Northern Italy, a French-Sardinian army occupied Milan, fought an Austro-Prussian army, commanded by Prince Eugene, in the BATTLE OF PARMA (June 29th 1734) which was indecisive, and again in the BATTLE OF GUASTALLA (Sept. 19th 1734), which ended with a Franco-Sardinian victory credited to the Sardinians. At Guastalla 49,000 French and Sardinian troops had faced 40,000 Austrian and Prussian troops.
In the BATTLE OF BITONTO (May 25th 1734) Spanish forces had defeated the Austrian forces in the Kingdom of Naples; the Spanish occupied Naples and Sicily.
In 1735 the war was practically over, although a number of sources have the war end in 1738. Sept. 15th 1734 Battle of Secchia.

C.) The Legacy

Poland : August III., the candidate supported by Austria and Russia, had succeeded in defending his claim to the throne. Poland's fate had been determined by foreign armies respectively diplomacy; France had sacrificed influence in distant Poland for gains in nearby territories. The POLISH PARTITIONS of 1772 to 1795 were the result of a Polish weakness already obvious in 1733-1735.
Lorraine : Duke Francis of Lorraine, soon to be husband of Austrian heiress Maria Theresia, ceded his duchy of Lorraine (already occupied by the French) to ousted Polish king Stanislas Leszczynski (after whose death the duchy was annexed by France in 1766). In return France recognized the PRAGMATIC SANCTION allowing Maria Theresia to succeed her father, Emperor Charles VI., in her Habsburg territories (1740). Furthermore, Duke Francis was promised compensation in form of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which he was to inherit when the ruling Medici dynasty was to extinguish (which happened in 1737). The TREATY OF VIENNA on Nov. 18th 1738 assured this transfer.
Austria ceded a strip of western Milan (with the city of Novara) to Piemont. The succession in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was promised to Francis, ex-Duke of Lorraine.
Kingdom of Two Sicilies : In the TREATY OF VIENNA on October 3rd 1735 Austria recognized Bourbon rule in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; the Bourbon were to rule until 1860. Thus the old connection of the two Sicilies with Aragon/Spain, which had been interrupted only in 1714, was restored. .
The Habsburg Netherlands were returned to Austria.

The spheres of influence of the major camps, the French and the Austrian, had shifted a little; overall the war was regarded a French victory. Yet the settlement was not lasting; the War of Austrian succession was soon to follow, again seeing France and Austria opposed to each other.

Encyclopedic articles from infoplease
The Saxon Army in the War of Polish Succession, by Vlad Gromoboy
La Battaglia di Guastalla 1734, from hmforum
Russian Auxiliary Corps on Austrian Service, 1734-1735, by Vlad Gromoboy
The Diukes of Lorraine, from Baron Richecourt Official Website
Biography of Maurice, Comte de Saxe, Marechal de France, from Web Gallery of Art
Regiment of infantry of national ordinance SAVOYE 1636- 1798' by Jean Cerino Badone, short on the War of Polish Succession; mainly on regiment composition and uniforms
The Royal House of Bourbon : the French succession; the Renunciations of 1712, the treaties of Utrecht and their aftermath in international affairs, from Chivalric Orders, scroll down for description of War of Polish Succession
From Danzig to Kolberg, in History of the Russian Navy
Article Polnischer Erbfolgekrieg (Polish War of Succession), from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888-1890 edition, in German
DOCUMENTS Map of the fortress of Philippsburg in 1734, from Badische Heimat

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

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