Wars of Spain

The War of Spanish Succession 1701-1714

A.) Pre-History

Spanish King Carlos II. (1665-1700), of the Habsburg Dynasty, was without a male heir. The event of his death, and of an international dispute over his succession, had been expected and had kept European diplomats occupied. Emperor Leopold II. hoped to gain Spain and her dominions for one of his sons. France wanted to see a new dynasty on the throne. The diplomats of Europe's other powers were interested in both preventing France from extending her influence, and in preventing another costly and lengthy war to happen, after the Bavaria and grandson to Spanish King Carlos II., was to inherit the Spanish Empire in her entirety. Proposed by the French, the signatory powers of the treaty included the Dutch Republic and England. However, infant Prince Joseph-Ferdinand died in February 1699, and the project shattered. In March 1700, France, the Dutch Republic and England signed yet another treaty, agreed on the partitioning of the Spanish Empire. Spain, with the Spanish Netherlands and with all her colonies, should go to Charles, the younger son of Emperor Leopold. The Duchy of Milan was to be given to the Duke of Lorraine; Lorraine was to be annexed by France. The Dauphin was to become King of the Two Sicilies. Emperor Leopold I. refused to sign the treaty; he wanted the entire Spanish Empire for his son.
On Nov. 1st 1700, Spanish King Carlos II. died, without male heir. In his will, he had named Philip of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou, his heir. This was another achievement of French diplomacy, which had won over the ambitions of the Austrian line of the Habsburg Dynasty. In Spain, especially among the high clergy, the option of an Austrian inheritance was rather unpopular. Pope Innocent XII. spoke out for French succession in Spain. In February 1701 Philip of Bourbon, yet 17 years old, entered a cheering Madrid; he was crowned King Felipe V. (Philip V.).

B.) Military Course of Actions

B.1) The Belligerents

While young King Philip established himself in Madrid, a coalition was formed by Austria, England, the Dutch Republic, and, passively, by Portugal. France and (not yet consolidated) Bourbon Spain were allied with Bavaria, Cologne and Savoy; the latter switched sides in 1703, when Brandenburg-Prussia and Hannover entered the anti-French alliance. From 1704 to 1709, even Denmark was involved. A Danish auxiliary corps fought alongside the Austrian army. The Great Northern War (1700-1721) was, from French perspective, a side show to the War of Spanish Succession (France paid subsidies to Sweden), Sweden neutralizing Russia, Poland and, temporarily, Denmark, potential Austrian/English allies.

B.2) The War on the Spanish Peninsula

Archduke Charles of Austria contested the rule of Philip V. over Spain, the other nations resented the expansion of Bourbon influence and eyed at the acquisition of parts of the Spanish Empire.
The war began in earnest in 1702 in the Spanish Netherlands and in Italy. In 1704 an Anglo-Dutch fleet sank the Spanish Treasure Fleet off Vigo, and then proceeded to take Gibraltar. King Philip returned from the Italian theatre of war. Archduke Charles, still in Vienna, had been crowned King Carlos III.; he reached Barcelona in 1705, where many Catalans expressed their support of him. Habsburg and allies armies took Madrid and Zaragoza, but here Charles III. found a much cooler reception; Charles withdrew from Madrid in late 1706. The Bourbon firce, commanded by the Duke of Berwick, was victorious in the Battle of Almansa. Valencia and Aragon were taken. In 1708 the English took Menorca.
Peace negotiations were held, and temporarily Louis XIV. dropped his support for Philip V.; the Bourbon troops had to withdraw from Madrid once more. Yet in the end Louis XIV did not accept the conditions offered, and resumed his support for Philip V. In 1611 Charles III.'s elder brother, Emperor Joseph I., died, and Charles succeeded him as Emperor Charles VI. If he would hold on to Spain, this would recreate the Dynastic Union of Austria and Spain, an idea neither of her allies supported. In 1713 the UK, the Dutch Republic, Savoy, Portugal and late-entry Brandenburg-Prussia signed peace; Austria followed in 1714. Philip V. held on to the Spanish crown; Gibraltar and Menorca remained British. Austria held on to Mallorca until June 13th 1715, when the island (Austrian garrison 1,000 men) was conquered by a Franco-Spanish force of 22,000.

B.3.) The War in the Spanish Netherlands

In 1702, French troops occupied the Spanish Netherlands "in order to secure them for Philip of Bourbon". The Dutch and British campaigned in the Spanish Netherlands. The Duke of Marlborough was victorious in the Battle of Blenheim 1704, Austrian forces in the Battles of Ramillies 1706, Oudenaarde 1708, an Austro-English force the Battle of Malplaquet 1709. The treaty of Utrecht awarded the bulk of the Spanish Netherlands to Austria, ceded some border stretches to France, Obergeldern to Prussia. The Dutch Republic was granted the right to garrison the barrier cities. In 1711 the Duke of Marlborough was recalled from the continent.

B.4.) The War in Germany

In 1703, the Bavarians were defeated in the Battle of Pontlatz Bridge (Tyrol) 1703, an Anglo-Austrian army defeated the French in 1704 in the Battle near Höchstätt, after which the Franco-Bavarian troops withdrew to the left bank of the Rhine. Under Austrian occupation, the Bavarian peasants revolted (Bavarian Rising 1705-1706. On April 29th 1707, Emperor Joseph I. declared the ban against Duke Maximilian of Bavaria and his brother, Archbishop Joseph Clement of Cologne (for supporting King Louis XIV., enemy of the Holy Roman Empire).
Bourbon France supported the Hungarian Kuruc Rebels (1703-1711), in the hope of tying up Austrian troops.

B.5.) The War in Italy

The War began with an Austrian army invading Lombardy in 1701, with the objective of conquering Milan. Spain defended her possessions in Italy, but the Anglo-Dutch fleet harrassed her communications with Spain. In 1703, Savoy-Piemont, at the outset of the war a French ally, switched sides. The arrival of contender Charles III. in Spain (1704) forced King Philip V. to leave the Italian theatre of war. In 1706 the Austrians defeated the French in the Battle of Turin; Austrian forces occupied Milan (March 1707) and Parma; Naples was occupied by Austrian troops in 1707. Franco-Spanish troops were cleared from the Italian peninsula. When Duke Carlo Ferdinando Gonzaga of Mantua died (1708), Austria annexed the Duchy (occupied since 1707), ending the rule of the Gonzaga-Nevers dynasty, suspected of her traditional loyalty to a French alliance. In 1708, the Spanish garrison on Sardinia had to surrender to an English fleet; in 1708 an Anglo-Austrian fleet began to take the Stato dei Presidii from the Spanish. In 1712 an Austrian fleet continued the mission, but failed to take the Spanish possessions on Elba.
In the Treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714), Spain ceded Sicily and parts of western Lombardy to Savoy-Piemont, Sardinia, Naples, Milan and the Spanish Netherlands to Austria. Savoy-Piemont also annexed the Principality of Monferrato.

B.6.) Rebellions supporting either sides

In France, the Camisards rebelled against Bourbon rule; in Hungary the Kuruc rebelled against Habsburg rule 1703-1711. Both groups were not mentioned in the Treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714). A planned French invasion in support of a planned Jacobite rising in Scotland did not materialize.
The Vorarlberg Peasant Revolt of 1707 seems to have had exclusively local causes.

B.7.) From the Negotiations of 1709 to the end of the War

In 1709 Anglo-French secret negotiations took place; the concept to partition the Spanish Empire, to grant Milan to the Duke of Lorraine in return for Lorraine, and to grant the Kingdom of Naples to Bourbon Philip V., was revived. The Habsburgers, Carlos III. and his brother, Emperor Joseph I. rejected the proposal outright.
In 1711 England and France secretly negotiated a peace treaty, according to which England's hold on Gibraltar and Menorca was confirmed. Austria denounced the negotiations, refusing to accept them as a base for a future general peace. With the vital support of the Maritime Powers now lackluster (even more so after Carlos III. had succeeded his brother Joseph I. as Holy Roman Emperor in 1711, under the name of Karl (Charles) VI), the position of Habsburg Carlos III. in Spain became more and more difficult. The peace treaties of Utrecht and Rastatt (1713/1714) formally terminated the war; Austrian forces were only expelled from Mallorca in 1715.

C.) Legacy

Aragon-Catalonia-Valencia, because of her support for Charles, had been deprived of their privileges.
The Spanish court did not accept the cession of so many territories, and King Philip even planned to succeed French King Louis XIV. In 1717 a Spanish fleet retook Sardinia, in 1718 landed on Sicily; the War of the Quadruple Alliance ensued, which brought a Spanish defeat; Sardinia and Sicily had to be returned. In the War of Polish Succession, Spain regained the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, in the War of Austrian Succession Parma.

The Battle of Blenheim 1704, Chapter XI from Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, by Edward Shepherd Creasy, posted by Pierre Sandboge
War of Spanish Succession, by Ben Levick
War of Spanish Succession, from Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth, links
War of Spanish Succession, by Maarten Folkers, detailed, year-by-year accounts
Oudenarde, from History4War, in French; from Historiske Slag, in Danish; from aeiou
Spanske Arvefølgekrig, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Ramillies, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Malplaquet, from Historiske Slag, in Danish; from aeiou
The French Succession : The Renunciations of 1712, the Treaties of Utrecht and their Aftermath in International Affairs, from The Royal House of Bourbon
Philip V., from EB 1911
Article Spanischer Erbfolgekrieg, from aeiou, in English, from schoolweb.de, in German
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from Columbia Encyclopedia, from Wikipedia
Guerres, batailles, troubles et repressions sous le regne de Louis XIV, from Huchehault, in French, scroll down for Guerre de Succession d'Espagne
Et dansk korps i østrigsk tjeneste 1704 - 1709 (A Danish Corps in Austrian Service), from Danish Military History, in Danish
The Contemplator's Short History of the Jacobite Uprisings, from Folk Music of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and America
DOCUMENTS Diorama Schlacht von Höchstädt (Diorama Battle of H.), from Heimatmuseum Höchstädt
Select Articles from the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, from Jacobite Heritage (Treaty between England, France and Spain; articles relevant to Canada selected)
Article 10 of the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, from Gibnet, English, Spanish, original Latin version; on Gibraltar
Treaties of Utrecht 1713 and Rastatt 1714, from Heraldica, in French
Article Spanischer Successions-Krieg, from Zedlers Universallexikon (1732), posted by Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, in German, 18th century font
REFERENCE Peter Pierson, The History of Spain, Greenwood, 1999, 248 pp.; KMLA Lib.Sign. 946 P624t pp. 73-75
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.309-314
Geoffrey Symcox, The political world of the absolutist state in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, pp.104-122 in : John A. Marino (ed.), Early Modern Italy (Short Oxford History of Italy), Oxford : UP 2002
Werner Kleindel, Österreich, Daten zur Geschichte und Kultur, Wien : Ueberreuter 1978, in German [G]
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 13th 2003, last revised February 18th 2006

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