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Spanish History: War of the Spanish Succession

“The War of the Spanish Succession” (1701-1714) saw the great European powers split over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Borbón monarch which would have drastically changed the European balance of power. The war was fought by, on one side, the Spanish loyal to Habsburg King Carlos VI, the Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Portugal and the Duchy of Savoy in northern Italy against, on the other side, the Spanish loyal to Borbón King Felipe V, France and the Electorate of Bavaria. It resulted eventually in the recognition of Felipe as King of Spain while requiring him to renounce any claim to the French throne and to cede much of the Imperial Spain’s possessions to the Holy Roman Empire, the Dutch Republic, the Duchy of Savoy and Great Britain. This included Gibraltar which went to Great Britain in 1714.
 
In 1700, Carlos II, the last Spanish monarch of the House of Habsburg, died bequeathing his possessions to Felipe, grandson of his half-sister and King Louis XIV of France. Felipe thereby became Felipe V of Spain and since he was also the younger son of the heir apparent of France, Felipe was in the line of succession to the French throne. Suddenly there was the possibility that the great multi-continental empire of Spain could pass under the control of France’s Louis XIV and this provoked a massive coalition of powers to oppose Felipe’s succession. Spain itself was divided over the succession and fell into civil war. The war was centred in Spain and West-Central Europe, but was also fought as far afield as the West Indies and colonial North and South America where the conflict became known to the English colonists as “Queen Anne’s War”.
 
Over the course of the fighting, some 400,000 people were killed. The War of the Spanish Succession was concluded by the “Treaty of Utrecht” in 1713 and the “Treaty of Rastatt” in 1714 and Felipe V remained King of Spain, though removed from the French line of succession, averting a union of the two kingdoms. Felipe quickly revived Spanish ambition. When Louis XIV died in 1715 he took advantage of the power vacuum to announce he would claim the French crown if the infant Louis XV died and attempted to reclaim Spanish territory in Italy. This precipitated “The War of the Quadruple Alliance” in 1717 when Spain was defeated by an alliance of Britain, France, Austria and the Dutch Republic. The War of the Quadruple Alliance provided a unique example during the eighteenth century when Britain and France were on the same side. It came during a period (1714-1731) when the two countries were allies. Spain would later join with France in the Borbón Compact and the two would become continual enemies of the British.
 
Felipe V photo by rahego         Louis XIV photo by MikeSheridan89
 

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