The wars of Louis XIV (3)
Archduke Charles (1685-1740)
Philip V of Spain,
Duke of Anjou
The War of
the Spanish Succession, 1702-13
The death of
Charles II of Spain had long been anticipated in view of his
poor health. Charles had no children and all Europe was concerned
as to who would succeed him.
[Not all marriages and
offspring are shown].
Louis XIV's wife, Maria Theresa (sister of Charles II and daughter of
Philip IV) died in 1683, but left a son. She had formally
renounced her claims to the throne on marriage. The rest of Europe was
horrified at the idea of France (already too powerful) controlling
Spain and its dominions.
Louis XIV did not think that France could afford to fight all Europe,
so in October 1698 he agreed to the First Partition Treaty, which gave
Spain and its colonies, along with the Spanish Netherlands, to Joseph
Ferdinand (son of Maximilian Emmanuel, Elector of Bavaria, and Maria
Antonia Hapsburg, who had died giving Joseph Ferdinand birth). In the event that
the male line died out, Philip IV of Spain had left a will bequeathing
the realm to his younger daughter, Margaret Theresa (who had renounced
her claims to inheritance on marriage - just like Marie Theresa)
mother of Maria Antonia, grandmother of Joseph Ferdinand.
Unfortunately Joseph Ferdinand died in 1699.
A second Partition Treaty was then signed granting Spain, its colonies
and the Spanish Netherlands to
Leopold I's younger son, the Archduke Charles, but giving Naples
and Sicily to France. The Spanish, however, did not want the Spanish
Empire broken up in this way.
Louis XIV accepting Charles II's will
In 1700, Charles II bequeathed the entire inheritance to Philip, Duke
of Anjou - younger grandson of Louis XIV; the will stated that if
France did not accept this, the entire inheritance should go to
Louis XIV accepted this arrangement to prevent encirclement
by Hapsburg powers, and (the
extremely odd) Philip acceded to the throne.
Louis XIV had an army of almost a quarter of a million men, and he
maneuvered it as though about to start a new offensive war. In June
1700, the normally fractious English House of Commons voted support
for William II against the French. In December 1700, Leopold I began
to raise an army on the Rhine.
In 1701, France allied with Bavaria, Cologne and Portugal, while
Britain, Prussia, the United Provinces and the Holy Roman Empire
formed a rival alliance.
September 1701 - on the death of
James II, Louis recognized James Francis Edward Stuart (the "Old
Pretender") as James III.
15 May 1702, Queen Anne and the Emperor
Leopold declared war on France.
October 1702, the British seized the Spanish
million-pound treasure fleet in the Battle of Vigo Bay.
1703 - Savoy and Portugal joined the Allies against
July 1704, Admiral Sir George Rooke captured
Gibraltar. Of key strategic importance because of its commanding
position on the Straits of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean joins the
Atlantic, it remains under British control to this day.
August 1704 - Marlborough left the dull Dutch
deputies who wanted to stand on the defensive, marched with his
British troops to Bavaria to join Prince Eugene, and defeated the
French under Marshal Tallard at Blenheim. This was the first
significant defeat suffered by Louis XIV's armies.
John Churchill, Duke of
Prince Eugene of Savoy
The Allies' two greatest commanders were
Churchill, Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy.
victory at the
Battle of Blenheim (1704) was crucial to stopping French
23 May 1706 - Marlborough defeated
a French army under François de Neufville, Duke
de Villeroi at Ramillies.
25 April 1707 Allied troops
in Spain were defeated by the French at the Battle of Almanza,
establishing Bourbon control of Spain.
July 11, 1708 - Allied
victory at the Battle of Oudenaarde lost the French their
control of Ghent and Bruges.
11 September 1709, Battle of
Malplaquet. Marlborough and Eugene held the field against
Claude-Louis-Hector, Duke of Villars, and Marshal Louis-François, Duke
of Boufflers, but only at the cost of very heavy casualties (22,000
killed or wounded, against French casualties of about 12,000).
Boufflers told Louis XIV - " Si Dieu nous fait la grâce de
perdre encore une pareille bataille, Votre Majesté peut compter que
ses ennemis sont détruits" ("If God grants us the grace to lose
another such battle, Your Majesty can be assured that your enemies are ruined”).
From 1708, Louis XIV had been trying to negotiate
peace, but the Allies insisted on the removal of Philip V from the
throne of Spain and his replacement by the Archduke Charles. However,
in April 1711, Joseph I (Holy Roman Emperor from 1705) died suddenly
from smallpox. Charles succeeded his brother as Emperor, and Britain
and the United Provinces did not want Spain and the Hapsburg
territories combined any more than they wanted France and Spain
April 1713 - the Peace of Utrecht was
Philip V retained Spain and its American colonies, but the
Spanish Netherlands, Milan and the Kingdom of Naples became Austrian Hapsburg
possessions. The Dutch were allowed to retain fortresses in the
Spanish Netherlands to discourage French aggression.
France ceded Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, the
Hudson Bay territory, and the island of St. Kitts (in the Caribbean)
to Britain, recognized Queen Anne (i.e. stopped supporting James
Edward), and made certain trading concessions. The Duke of Savoy
became King of Sicily.
France did retain much of the
territory it had seized in Flanders and along the Rhine (although
Alsace and Lorraine remained a bone of contention between France and
Germany long after).
The armies of
these wars were not "national" in the modern sense. Over half of
the 130,000 soldiers who served the Dutch Republic, and of the 70,000 who
served Britain, were
Danish and German auxiliaries. During his twenties, John
Churchill had served as a colonel in the French army. Prince Eugene
of Savoy - son of a niece of Cardinal Mazarin and rumored to be
the bastard of Louis XIV - had been raised French. At the Battle
of Almanza (1707) the British forces were commanded by the
French Huguenot, Henri de Massue de Ruvigny, Earl of Galway,
while James Fitz-James, Duke of Berwick, (illegitimate son of
James II by John Churchill's elder sister) led the French.
|Louis XIV was king for 72 years - the longest reigning monarch
in European history - in an age of absolutism. Theorists such as
Jacques Bossuet and
Jean Domat argued that the king was God's agent on earth and to
be obeyed faithfully.|
|The reign of Louis XIV has excited strong reactions amongst
historians - some seeing it as disastrous, others as glorious.|
Voltaire, one of the great figures of the Enlightenment, recognized
the suffering caused by Louis' warmongering and religious
persecution and admired him nonetheless.
"The superior ability of
his early ministers and his early generals soon wearied him.
He liked nobody to be in any way superior to him. Thus he
chose his ministers, not for their knowledge, but for their
ignorance; not for their capacity, but for their want of it.
He liked to form them, as he said; liked to teach them even
the most trifling things. It was the same with his generals.
He took credit to himself for instructing them; wished it to
be thought that from his cabinet he commanded and directed all
his armies. Naturally fond of trifles, he unceasingly occupied
himself with the most petty details of his troops, his
household, his mansions. This vanity, this unmeasured and
unreasonable love of admiration, was his ruin."
Saint-Simon on Louis XIV
|Under Louis XIV, France was the cultural center of Europe. |
plays of Racine (1639-99) and Molière
(1622-73) took tragedy and comedy to new literary heights. The
architecture and landscaping of Versailles was copied in palaces
(Jean Baptiste Poquelin)
|Colbert's economic reforms did bear
fruit in making France a more prosperous and better administered
country. The costs of war were immense, but France did gain
aimé la guerre …"
"J'ai souvent entrepris la guerre trop légèrement et l'ai soutenu
(I loved war too much.)
(I often undertook war too lightly and persisted in it from vanity.)