- Describe the reasons why there was conflict over who should take the Spanish throne
- In the late 1690s, the declining health of childless King Charles II of Spain deepened the ongoing dispute over his succession. The main rivals for the Spanish inheritance were the descendants of Louis XIV of France and the Austrian Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, but the matter was of the utmost importance to Europe as a whole.
- In 1698 and 1700, Louis XIV and William III of England attempted to partition Spain in the effort to avoid a war. Charles II of Spain opposed partition and on his deathbed offered the empire to Philip, Duke of Anjou and Louis’s grandson, who became King Philip V Spain.
- Although most European rulers accepted Philip as king, tensions mounted, mostly because of a series of Louis’s decisions. Britain, the Dutch Republic, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the petty German states formed another Grand Alliance and declared war on France in 1702.
- With losses, victories, and significant financial costs on both sides, as well as a fragile Grand Alliance, French and British ministers prepared the groundwork for a peace conference, and in 1712 Britain ceased combat operations.
- By the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) and the Treaty of Rastatt (1714), the Spanish empire was partitioned between the major and minor powers. The Austrians received most of Spain’s former European realms, but the Duke of Anjou retained peninsular Spain and Spanish America, where, after renouncing his claim to the French succession, he reigned as King Philip V.
- The partition of the Spanish Monarchy had secured the balance of power and the conditions imposed at Utrecht helped to regulate the relations between the major European powers over the coming century.
Treaties of Rastatt and Baden
Two peace treaties that in 1714 ended ongoing European conflicts following the War of the Spanish Succession. The first treaty,
signed between France and Austria in the city of Rastatt, followed the earlier Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, which ended hostilities between France and Spain on the one hand, and Britain and the Dutch Republic on the other hand. The second treaty, signed in Baden, was required to end the hostilities between France and the Holy Roman Empire.
Treaty of the Hague
A 1698 treaty, known also as the First Partition Treaty, between England and France. The accord attempted to resolve who would inherit the Spanish throne, proposing that Duke Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria be the heir. Moreover, the agreement proposed that Louis, le Grand Dauphin, would get Naples, Sicily, and Tuscany, and Archduke Charles, the younger son of Emperor Leopold I, would get the Spanish Netherlands. Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, would take Milan, which in turn ceded Lorraine and Bar to the Dauphin.
Treaty of Utrecht
A series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of the Spanish Succession in the Dutch city of Utrecht in 1713. The treaties between several European states, including Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy, and the Dutch Republic, helped end the war.
Treaty of London
A 1700 treaty, known also as the Second Partition Treaty, attempting to restore the Pragmatic Sanction following the death of Duke Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria. The Pragmatic Sanction had undermined the First Partition Treaty (the Treaty of Hague). Under the new treaty, Archduke Charles (later Charles VI), the second son of Emperor Leopold I, was to become king of Spain when Charles II died, and acquire her oversees colonies.
A European coalition consisting (at various times) of Austria, Bavaria, Brandenburg, the Dutch Republic, England, the Holy Roman Empire, Ireland, the Palatinate of the Rhine, Portugal, Savoy, Saxony, Scotland, Spain, and Sweden. The organization was founded in 1686 as the League of Augsburg in an attempt to halt Louis XIV of France’s expansionist policies. After the Treaty of Hague was signed in 1701, it went into a second phase as the Alliance of the War of Spanish Succession.
In the late 1690s, the declining health of childless King Charles II of Spain deepened the ongoing dispute over his succession. Spain was no longer a hegemonic power in Europe but the Spanish Empire—a vast confederation that covered the globe and was still
the largest of the European overseas empires—remained resilient. Ultimately, the main rivals for the Spanish inheritance were the heirs and descendants of the Bourbon King Louis XIV of France and the Austrian Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. However, the inheritance was so vast that its transference would dramatically increase either French or Austrian power which, due to the implied threat of European hegemony, was of the utmost importance to Europe as a whole.
Rival Claims and Partitions
The French claim derived from Louis XIV’s mother, Anne of Austria (the older sister of Philip IV of Spain), and his wife, Maria Theresa (Philip IV’s eldest daughter). France had the stronger claim, as it originated from the eldest daughters in two generations. However, their renunciation of succession rights complicated matters, although in the case of Maria Theresa, the renunciation was considered null and void owing to Spain’s breach of her marriage contract with Louis. In contrast, no renunciations tainted the claims of the Emperor Leopold I’s son Charles, Archduke of Austria, who was a grandson of Philip III’s youngest daughter, Maria Anna. The English and Dutch feared that a French or Austrian-born Spanish king would threaten the balance of power, and thus preferred the Bavarian Prince Joseph Ferdinand, a grandson of Leopold I through his first wife, Margaret Theresa of Spain (the younger daughter of Philip IV).
In an attempt to avoid war, Louis signed the Treaty of the Hague with William III of England in 1698. This agreement divided Spain’s Italian territories between Louis’s son le Grand Dauphin and the Archduke Charles, with the rest of the empire awarded to Joseph Ferdinand. The signatories, however, omitted to consult Charles II, who was passionately opposed to the dismemberment of his empire. In 1699, he re-confirmed his 1693 will that named Joseph Ferdinand as his sole successor, but the latter died six months later. In 1700, Louis and William III concluded a fresh partitioning agreement, the Treaty of London. It allocated Spain, the Low Countries, and the Spanish colonies to Archduke Charles. The Dauphin would receive all of Spain’s Italian territories. On his deathbed in 1700, Charles II unexpectedly offered the entire empire to the Dauphin’s second son, Philip, Duke of Anjou, provided it remained undivided. Anjou was not in the direct line of French succession, thus his accession would not cause a Franco-Spanish union. Louis eventually decided to accept Charles II’s will, and Philip, Duke of Anjou, became King Philip V of Spain.
Although most European rulers accepted Philip as king, tensions mounted, mostly because of a series of Louis’s decisions. Louis’s actions enraged Britain and the Dutch Republic. With the Holy Roman Emperor and the petty German states, they formed another Grand Alliance. French diplomacy, however, secured Bavaria, Portugal, and Savoy as Franco-Spanish allies. Around the same time, Louis decided to acknowledge James Stuart, the son of James II, as king of England on the latter’s death, infuriating William III. While William died in March 1702, the Austrians, the Dutch, and English allies formally declared war in May 1702.
War of the Spanish Succession
By 1708, the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy had secured victory in the Spanish Netherlands and in Italy and defeated Louis XIV’s ally Bavaria. The Allies suffered a Pyrrhic victory at the 1709 Battle of Malplaquet, with 21,000 casualties, twice that of the French. French forces elsewhere continued to fight despite their defeats. The Allies were definitively expelled from central Spain by the Franco-Spanish victories at the Battles of Villaviciosa and Brihuega in 1710. France faced invasion, but the unity of the allies broke first. With the Grand Alliance defeated in Spain and its casualties and costs mounting and aims diverging, the Tories came to power in Great Britain in 1710 and resolved to end the war. Eventually, France recovered its military pride with the decisive victory at Denain in 1712. Yet French and British ministers prepared the groundwork for a peace conference, and in 1712 Britain ceased combat operations. The Dutch, Austrians, and German states fought on to strengthen their own negotiating position, but, defeated by Marshal Villars, they were soon compelled to accept Anglo-French mediation.
The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht recognized Louis XIV’s grandson Philip, Duke of Anjou, as King of Spain (as Philip V), thus confirming the succession stipulated in the will of Charles II. However, Philip was compelled to renounce for himself and his descendants any right to the French throne. The Spanish territories in Europe were apportioned: Savoy received Sicily and parts of the Duchy of Milan, while Charles VI (the Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria) received the Spanish Netherlands, the Kingdom of Naples, Sardinia, and the bulk of the Duchy of Milan. Portugal had its sovereignty recognized over the lands between the Amazon and Oyapock rivers, in Brazil. In addition, Spain ceded Gibraltar and Minorca to Great Britain and agreed to give to the British the Asiento, a monopoly on the oceanic slave trade to the Spanish colonies in America. In North America, France ceded to Great Britain its claims to Newfoundland, the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Acadian colony of Nova Scotia, and the formerly partitioned island of Saint Kitts.
After the signing of the Utrecht treaties, the French continued to be at war with Emperor Charles VI and with the Holy Roman Empire until 1714, when hostilities were ended with the Treaties of Rastatt and Baden. Spain and Portugal remained formally at war with each other until the Treaty of Madrid of February 1715, while peace between Spain and Emperor Charles VI, unsuccessful claimant to the Spanish crown, came only in 1720 with the signing of the Treaty of The Hague.
The War of the Spanish Succession brought to an end a long period of major conflict in Western Europe. The partition of the Spanish Monarchy had secured the balance of power, and the conditions imposed at Utrecht helped to regulate the relations between the major European powers over the coming century.