War of the Spanish Succession

The War of the Spanish Succession was a European great power conflict that took place from 1701 to 1715. The death of childless Charles II of Spain in November 1700 led to a struggle for control of the Spanish Empire between his heirs, Philip of Anjou and Charles of Austria, and their respective supporters, among them Spain, Austria, France, the Dutch Republic, Savoy and Great Britain. Related conflicts include the 1700–1721 Great Northern War, Rákóczi's War of Independence in Hungary, the Camisards revolt in southern France, Queen Anne's War in North America and minor trade wars in India and South America.

War of the Spanish Succession
Part of the French–Habsburg rivalry

Clockwise, from top left:
Date9 July 1701 – 6 February 1715
(13 years, 6 months and 4 weeks)
Result Treaties of Utrecht, Rastatt, and Baden
Commanders and leaders
Casualties and losses
  • : 250,000 killed and wounded
  • : 200,000 killed and wounded[lower-alpha 6]
  • : 50,000 killed and wounded
  • : 50,000 killed and wounded[11]
  • 400,000–500,000 killed and wounded
  • : c.100,000 killed and wounded[11]
  • Total deaths in combat (both sides): 400,000[11]
  • Total including disease: 700,000[12] to 1,251,000[13]

Although weakened by over a century of continuous conflict, Spain remained a global power whose territories included the Spanish Netherlands, large parts of Italy, the Philippines, and much of the Americas, which meant its acquisition by either France or Austria potentially threatened the European balance of power. Attempts by Louis XIV of France and William III of England to resolve the issue through diplomacy were rejected by the Spanish and Charles II named Louis' grandson, Philip of Anjou, as his heir. His proclamation as king of an undivided Spanish Empire on 16 November 1700 led to war, with France and Spain on one side and the Grand Alliance on the other.

The French held the advantage in the early stages, but were forced onto the defensive after 1706; however, by 1710 the Allies had failed to make any significant progress, while Bourbon victories in Spain had secured Philip's position as king. When Emperor Joseph I died in 1711, Archduke Charles succeeded his brother as emperor, and the new British government initiated peace talks. Since only British subsidies kept their allies in the war, this resulted in the 1713–15 Peace of Utrecht treaties, followed by the 1714 Treaties of Rastatt and Baden.

Philip was confirmed as King of Spain in return for renouncing the right of himself or his descendants to inherit the French throne; the Spanish Empire remained largely intact, but ceded territories in Italy and the Low Countries to Austria and Savoy. Britain retained Gibraltar and Menorca which it captured during the war, acquired significant trade concessions in the Spanish Americas, and replaced the Dutch as the leading maritime and commercial European power. The Dutch gained a strengthened defence line in what was now the Austrian Netherlands; although they remained a major commercial power, the cost of the war permanently damaged their economy.

France withdrew backing for the exiled Jacobites and recognised the Hanoverians as heirs to the British throne; ensuring a friendly Spain was a major achievement, but left them financially exhausted. The decentralisation of the Holy Roman Empire continued, with Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony increasingly acting as independent states. Combined with victories over the Ottomans, this meant Austria increasingly switched focus to southern Europe.

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