1648-1700 1745-1777

Bavaria, 1700-1745

In the last years of the 17th century, Duke Max Emanuel of Bavaria, his wife being a Spanish princess, hoped to inherit parts of or even the entire Spanish Empire (King Carlos II. of Spain had no son). When his wife died while giving birth to a son, this possibility became much less realistic, as Spain did only recognize her right to inherit, not that of her husband and son.
Max Emanuel had entered into secret negotiations with France. Following the death of King Carlos II. of Spain the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) broke out, with Bavaria fighting on the side of France. In 1703, the Bavarian army defeated invading Austrian armies. Then the combined Austro-Prussian-British troops took the Schellenberg on the Danube, a commanding position; in 1704, in the Battle of Höchstädt, the Franco-Bavarian forces suffered a severe defeat. Bavaria fell under Austrian occupation. Contributions and forced conscription by the Austrian occupiers caused a rebellion (1705-1706). Meanwhile the Imperial diet declared both Duke Max Emanuel of Bavaria and his brother, Joseph Clemens, Princebishop of Cologne (and of other princebishoprics) to have forfeited their lands (because they sided with the Empire's declared enemy) and to be banned. The Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate) was to be returned to Kurpfalz (Rhenish Palatinate); Emperor Joseph intended to hold on to Bavaria himself; Prussia protested.
Max Emanuel entered into secret negotiations with Britain and Austria, with the aim not only to regain Bavaria, but even to achieve either promotion to the rank of king or further territorial acquisitions. The death of Joseph I. in 1711 was fortunate for Bavaria, as the Habsburg candidate for the Spanish throne now became Emperor and ruler over Austria. England did not want to see a reunified Habsburg Empire; the Treaty of Utrecht 1713 restored Max Emanuel to the Duchy of Bavaria (without the Innviertel).
Emperor Charles VI. had no son; Duke Max Emanuel hoped to secure the Imperial crown after Charles' death, and concluded an alliance with France to secure the latter's support in 1714. In 1722 Max Emanuel married his son Charles Albrecht to a Habsburg princess. The 1720es saw frequently changing political constellations in Europe. In 1724 the various branches of the House of Wittelsbach signed a treaty of defensive alliance and cooperation (Wittelsbacher Hausunion), signatories Bavaria, Kurpfalz, Pfalz-Neuburg, Pfalz-Sulzbach, the Princebishoprics of Cologne and Trier. The House of Wittelsbach controlled 4 of the 9 electoral votes.
In 1726, Max Emanuel died; he was succeeded by Charles Albrecht. Bavaria entered into an alliance with Spain and the Emperor, which secured subsidies for Bavaria. In 1727 Bavaria renewed the French alliance. During the War of Polish Succession (1733-1735) the Wittelsbach countries remained neutral, despite the fact that the Holy Roman Empire declared war on France.
In 1740 Emperor Charles VI. died without a son; Habsburg diplomacy had prepared for the situation by getting the Pragmatic Sanction signed by domestic diets and foreign powers. On the other hand, Bavarian diplomacy had long prepared for the situation, and Charles Albrecht declared his candidacy for the Imperial crown. In 1741, Austrian troops invaded Upper Austria, then Bohemia, where he had himself crowned King of Bohemia (War of Austrian Succession 1741-1748). Maria Theresia took control of the Habsburg territories, signed a peace treaty with Prussia and then threw her forces against the Bavarian forces. In 1742 Charles Albrecht was elected Holy Roman Emperor Charles VII.; in the same year the Bavarian troops were expelled from Bohemia and Upper Austria; Austrian troops invaded Bavaria. The Bavarian commander had to sign a treaty in which he declared the neutrality of the Bavarian forces (1743); the French, Bavaria's most important allies, were defeated in the Battle of Dettingen 1744. In 1745 Bavaria, Prussia, Hessen-Kassel and Kurpfalz signed a renewed (anti-Habsburg) alliance; Charles Albrecht died in early 1745.

Bavarian History, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 edition
Karlheinz Scherr Bayern im Zeitalter des Furstlichen Absolutismus (17./18. Jahrhundert) (Bavaria in the Era of Ducal Absolutism) in : Politische Geschichte Bayerns (Political History of Bavaria), posted by HDBG
REFERENCE Territorien-Ploetz : Geschichte der Deutschen Länder (History of the German Territories), Vol.1, Würzburg 1964, in German
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
Selma Stern, The Court Jew, A Contribution to the History of Absolutism in Europe, NY (1950) : Transaction Books 1985, especially pp.95-98 (on Samuel Wertheimer)

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First posted on November 7th 2003, last revised on November 11th 2004

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