War of the Quadruple Alliance, 1718-1720

A.) Causes

Following the War of Spanish Succession 1701-1714, Philip V. of Spain could hold on to Spain proper and the Spanish colonial empire, but had to cede the Spanish Netherlands, Milan and Naples to Austria, Sicily to Savoy-Piemont and Obergeldern to Brandenburg-Prussia.
Sardinia, Sicily and Naples had, for centuries, been closely linked to Aragon and, in her succession, to Spain; significant elements in the population sympathized with their former masters, while the new Austrian respectively Savoyard masters, originally welcomed as liberators from Spanish rule, enjoyed limited public support.
Spanish Prime Minister, Cardinal Alberoni, pursued an ambitious foreign policy which aimed at regaining lost territory in Italy and even at claiming the French throne for King Philip V. (Louis XIV. had died in 1715).

B.) The War

In the years immediately following the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), Spain regarded Austria her archenemy; the Emperor and ruler of Austria, Charles VI., maintained his claim on the Spanish throne. From 1716 to 1718, Austria's forces were tied by the Austro-Ottoman War. Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy-Piemont and since 1713 King of Sicily, contemplated an ambitious plan - to erect an Italian League with Spanish support, with the intention to expel the foreigners (i.e. Austrians) from Italy. Yet the Spanish crown had little interest in this concept; her aim was to restore Spanish control over lost territories in Italy.

In Nov. 1717 a Spanish fleet landed on Sardinia and ended the brief period of Austrian rule over the island. In July 1718 a Spanish army was disembarked on Sicily.
On August 2nd 1718, Great Britain, Austria, France and the Dutch Republic concluded the Quadruple Alliance, formed in order to contain Spain. While the Dutch Republic did not live up to her treaty obligations, Savoy-Piemont was caused by Spanish policy to join the Quadruple Alliance. The British fleet defeated the Spanish at Cape Passaro near Syracuse; Austrian troops then took Messina on Sicily. A French force invaded the Spanish Basque territory. In 1719 Spain sent an invading force of 5,000 soldiers to Scotland to kindle another Jacobite Rising. The fleet was damaged by storm; when the invasion force landed, the leadership quarrelled, and few Scotsmen joined them. They surrendered to the English.
Spain had to enter into peace negotiations; the first victim was Prime Minister Alberoni, who was sacked (1719). Peace was concluded in Den Haag (The Hague) February 17th 1720; Sardinia now was allocated to Savoy-Piemont, Sicily to Austria, a deal favourable to Austria.

C.) The Legacy

Spain did not give up the idea of regaining lost territories in Italy; the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were regained in the War of Polish Succession (1733-1735), Parma in the War of Austrian Succession (1741-1748); both wars saw Bourbon Spain as an ally of Bourbon France.

Krieg der Quadrupelallianz, 1718-1720, from Kriege der Neuzeit, in German
Article Quadruple Alliance, from Columbia Encyclopedia
Article Giulio Alberoni, from Catholic Encyclopedia, from EB 1911
Gibraltar Scandal - Foreign Office Manipulation, by Robert Peliza, has narrative of War of Quadruple Alliance
The Jacobites, by Len Nicholson, from An Introduction to Scottish History, scroll down for 1719
DOCUMENTS Quadruple Alliance of 1718, French Text Articles 1 & 2, from Royal House of Bourbon
Renunciation of the Emperor Charles VI to the Spanish Thrones, from Royal House of Bourbon
Correspondence Cardinal Alberoni - King Philip V. of Spain, posted by http://www.gospelcom.net/chi/HERITAGF/Issuenos/chl148.shtml"> Christian History Institute
Article Quadruple-Allianz, from Zedlers Universallexikon (1732), posted by Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, in German, 18th century font
REFERENCE Franz Pesendorfer, Österreich - Grossmacht im Mittelmeer ? Das Königreich Neapel unter Karl VI. (1707/20-1734/35) (Austria - Great Power in the Mediterranean ? The Kingdom of Naples under Charles VI., 1707/20-1734/35), Wien : Böhlau 1998, in German [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 14th 2003, last revised on February 14th 2006

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