Europe at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession
The question of the Spanish Succession, the chief motive for concluding the somewhat disadvantageous Peace of Ryswick, engrossed, towards the close of the seventeenth century, the attention of European statesmen. An attack of tertian fever, in 1697, had still further shattered the feeble constitution of Charles II; and though he survived three or four years a disorder which had threatened to be fatal, the effects of it at length brought him to the tomb. Feeble both in body and mind, his life had been nothing but a protracted malady, in which the last descendant of the Emperor Charles V seemed to typify the declining kingdom over which he reigned.
The majority of Charles II had been fixed at the age of fifteen, and the first act of his accession had been a kind of revolution. Maria Anna, the Queen Dowager, after the expulsion of Niethard had created Valenzuela a Marquis and grandee of the first class, and at length made him prime minister; while Don John of Austria was condemned to a sort of banishment in his governments of Aragon and Catalonia. But in 1677, when Charles II attained his majority, he recalled John to Court; the Queen was shut up in a convent at Toledo, and Valenzuela banished to the Philippine Islands. Don John’s administration, however, did not answer to the opinion which had been formed of his abilities. He found Spain involved in a ruinous war with France, which he was forced to terminate by acceding to the humiliating Peace of Nimeguen; and he further alienated the affections of the Spaniards, who detested the French, by negotiating a marriage between Charles II and Maria Louisa of Orleans, niece of Louis XIV. This union, which was celebrated at Quintanapulla, in October, 1679, he did not live to see. He died in the preceding month, in his fiftieth year, worn out, it is said, by chagrin at his unpopularity and by the anxiety occasioned by the machinations of the Queen’s friends. The Queen Dowager was now recalled; but, having grown cautious from her late misfortunes, took but little part in the conduct of affairs. The young King, who was himself incapable of business, successively entrusted the administration to a secretary named Eguia, to the Duke of Medina Celi, the Counts of Oropesa and Melgar, the Dukes of Sessa andInfantado, and the Count of Monterey; but these ministers, though differing in talent, all proved unequal to the task of raising Spain from the misery into which she was sunk, which was aggravated, not only by bad fiscal measures, but also by the natural calamities of earthquakes, hurricanes, inundations, and famines. The death of Charles II’s wife, Maria Louisa, in 1689, and his marriage the following year with Mary Ajine, of Neuburg, a sister of the Empress, naturally tended to draw him under the influence of the Austrian Court; especially as Mary Anne, after the death of the Queen Dowager, in 1696, obtained more undivided sway over her husband. This circumstance favouredthe Imperial claims to the Spanish succession; but in order to understand that question, and the politics of the different parties concerned in it, we must here give an account of the origin of their claims.
The three principal claimants were, first, the Dauphin of France, as son of the elder sister of Charles II; second, Joseph Ferdinand, the Electoral Prince of Bavaria, as grandson of his second sister; and third, the Emperor Leopold. The Emperor at first claimed, as male representative of the younger branch of the House of Austria, being descended from Ferdinand, second son of Philip and Joanna of Castile; and he alleged, in support of his claim, the family conventions entered into by the House of Austria; by which, if the males of one branch became extinct, the succession was to pass to the males of the next branch, to the exclusion of females, who could not succeed except in default of heirs male of all the branches. But as it was replied, that particular arrangements among members of the House of Austria could not abrogate the fundamental laws of Spain, by which direct female heirs were preferred to collateral male heirs, Leopold withdrew this argument and substituted another claim in right of his mother, Maria Anna, daughter of Philip III of Spain, who had done no act to invalidate her succession to the Spanish Crown.
In preferring this claim, Leopold became the rival of his own grandson, the Electoral Prince of Bavaria. Leopold had married for his first wife, Margaret, second daughter of Philip IV of Spain, and younger sister of Maria Theresa, Queen of Louis XIV; and as Margaret had made no renunciation of the Spanish Crown, and had been named among his heirs by Philip IV, she seemed to have a preferable title to her elder sister. Leopold had had by her an only daughter, Mary Antoinette, now dead, who had married Max Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria, and had had by him Joseph Ferdinand, the Electoral Prince in question, who, if the rights of his mother were admitted, was entitled to the Spanish throne. But Leopold, to guard against any claim which might divert the Spanish Succession from the House of Austria to that of Bavaria, had caused his daughter to execute an act of renunciation at the time of her marriage, which, however, had never been ratified either by the King of Spain or by the Cortes.
It was plain, however, that a question of such vast European importance would not be decided by the strict rules of hereditary succession, but must become a subject of negotiation, and even of war. The European Powers would hardly stand quietly by and see the vast dominions of Spain annexed to the already overgrown power of the Emperor; and Leopold, to evade this objection, transferred his claim to the Archduke Charles, his second son by his marriage with Eleanor Magdalene, Princess Palatine ofNeuburg: his eldest son Joseph, by the same marriage, having been elected King of the Romans, in 1690, and thus destined to succeed him on the Imperial throne. In like manner, to obviate any objection to the union of France and Spain, Louis ultimately proposed to give the crown of the latter country to Philip, Duke of Anjou, second son of the Dauphin.
The King of Spain’s second wife, Mary Anne of Neuburg, being a sister of the Empress, naturally promoted the views of Leopold; in which, however, she was opposed by the Queen-Mother, Mary Anne of Austria, who was in favour of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria; while Charles, incapable of forming a judgment, or maintaining an opinion of his own, was drawn to either side alternately. The Austrian influence began, indeed, to predominate after the death of the Queen- Mother in 1696; but her representations had made so lively an impression on Charles that he is said to have made a will in favour of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria. It was to efface these impressions that Leopold sent as his ambassador to Spain Count Harrach, a veteran diplomatist, who was charged to obtain the substitution of the Archduke Charles for the Bavarian Prince. Charles II consented to this arrangement, provided the Emperor would send that Prince into Spain, together with a force of 10,000 men, to assist in expelling the French from Catalonia; but Leopold, embarrassed at that time by the Turkish war, declined a proposal which suited neither his means nor his inclination. The negotiations lingered, and France, meanwhile, concluded the Peace of Ryswick, which put an end to the hopes which Leopold had founded on the Grand Alliance. England and Holland, in spite of their engagements with Leopold, inclined towards the Bavarian party, as best calculated to maintain the balance of power; and thus they abandoned the Emperor in the negotiations at Ryswick, in which not a word was said about the Spanish succession.
To counteract the Austrian influence, Louis XIV dispatched the Count d’Harcourtto Madrid early in 1698. The Germans were not popular in Spain; the Queen, by her maladroitness, had alienated several of the ministers and grandees, whom D’Harcourt, by his popular manners and winning address, and partly, also, it is said, by bribery, succeeded in conciliating to the French cause; and among them, in particular, the Cardinal Portocarrero, Archbishop of Toledo, one of the most influential men in Spain. The French ambassador also worked on the timid mind of Charles by threats, and plainly intimated a resort to force if the rights of the children of France should be superseded. By these means he induced the King of Spain at least to postpone any declaration in favour of the Archduke Charles, though without pressing the nomination of the Duke of Anjou, on which Louis himself had not yet determined. The French King felt the impossibility of securing the entire Spanish Succession without kindling afresh a general war in Europe, for which he was but ill-prepared; and he was therefore inclined to listen to the overtures made to him by William III, through the Earl of Portland, for a partition. As the Emperor now claimed the undivided succession for his second son, it was useless to think of renewing with him the eventual treaty of 1688; the better plan, therefore, seemed to be to come to an understanding with the King of England, and to force the Emperor to accept the settlement which they should agree upon. After long negotiations, a secret treaty was concluded at the Hague, October 11th, 1698, between France, England, and Holland. By this, which has been called the First Treaty of Partition, it was agreed that on the death of Charles II without issue, the Dauphin should have the two Sicilies, the Tuscan ports, the marquisate of Finale in Liguria, and the province of Guipuzcoa; that the Archduke Charles should have the Milanese; and that the remainder of the Spanish possessions, including the Belgian provinces, should fall to the Electoral Prince of Bavaria.
Although the share thus assigned to France in the Spanish spoils was far inferior to that apportioned to her by the eventual treaty with the Emperor, and though, to conciliate England and Holland, she had renounced her pretensions to the Flemish provinces, still the share which she thus obtained of Italy was most important. Charles II was very indignant on learning—for the secret soon oozed out—this dismemberment of his monarchy; and he resented it by making a new will, in which he appointed the Electoral Prince his universal heir, and named the Queen, his wife, Regent during the minority of Ferdinand Joseph. But all these arrangements were suddenly overthrown by an unexpected event. The Bavarian Prince died at Brussels in February, 1699, at the age of six years. By his death the contests of the Austrian and French parties were renewed with more vigour than ever at Madrid, the choice being now restricted between two parties, instead of three. The Spanish Queen exerted herself in favour of the Archduke Charles, while Portocarrero and the French party endeavored to sway the mind of the King by superstitious terrors. Meanwhile Louis XIV made overtures to William III for another partition treaty, which was executed at the Hague in March, 1700, by the parties to the former one. Louis being aware that the Maritime Powers would never consent that Spain and the Indies should fall to the share of France, now agreed that the greater part of the Spanish Succession should be assigned to the Archduke Charles, but on condition that the Crown of Spain should never be united with that of the Empire, the Dauphin retaining what had been apportioned to him in the former treaty, with the addition of Lorraine. The Duke of Lorraine, provided he should accede to the treaty, was to have the Duchy of Milan, which in the previous treaty had been given to the Archduke Charles. Three months were to be allowed to the Emperor to adhere to the treaty; and upon his definitive refusal, the share of the Archduke was to pass to a third party, not named, but who was understood to be the Duke of Savoy.
Thus the Spanish Succession was disposed of by two foreign Powers, one being a party interested in it, without consulting the Spanish monarch or nation, whose spoils were thus unceremoniously divided. Such a proceeding naturally irritated the Courts both of Vienna and Madrid, and their anger was principally directed against William III for interfering in a matter in which he was not directly concerned. So loud were the complaints of the Spanish minister at London that William ordered him to quit the kingdom; a step which was answered by the dismissal from Spain of the British and Dutch ambassadors. The Emperor at first endeavored to persuade Louis XIV to enter into a direct and separate negotiation; but not succeeding, refused to accept the Treaty of Partition. The other European Powers, to whom the treaty had been officially communicated, hesitated to guarantee it, and seemed inclined to await the course of events. Only the Duke of Lorraine accepted the proposed exchange.
Meanwhile the struggle of the contending parties was redoubled at Madrid. Each seemed alternately to gain the ascendant over the wavering mind of Charles, who was inclined to listen to everybody except the Cortes. At length Portocarrero, availing himself of his sacred office, and representing to the King that his eternal salvation depended on the appointment of a rightful successor, prevailed on him to submit the question to the profoundest lawyers of Spain and Italy. These decided unanimously infavour of the House of Bourbon, provided means were taken to prevent the union of the French and Spanish Crowns, the sole object of the renunciation of Maria Theresa. Charles, not content with this decision, referred the matter to Pope Innocent XII, who confirmed it, and added a letter strongly urging the Catholic King, as he valued his salvation, to secure the undivided inheritance of the Spanish monarchy to a son of the Dauphin, the rightful heir.
It was not, however, till after he had obtained the opinions of the Council of Castile and the Council of State, which agreed with that given by the Pope, that Charles, under the renewed spiritual menaces of the Archbishop of Toledo, at last drew up a testament in favour of the House of Bourbon. But as Louis XIV. had ostensibly bound himself to a different course of policy by the Treaty of Partition, Charles appears first of all to have obtained from the French King an assurance that he would accept a bequest of the whole Spanish monarchy, instead of a dismemberment, which was highly distasteful to the nation. On October 2nd, 1700, Charles signed a will in which, after many injunctions to his successor on the subject of religion, he declared his heir to be his nearest kinsman after those destined to mount the throne of France; that is to say, the Duke of Anjou, second son of the Dauphin
Should the Duke of Anjou inherit the throne of France, and prefer it to that of Spain, then his younger brother, the Duke of Berri, was named in his stead; and in his default, the Archduke Charles and the Duke of Savoy successively. Charles strictly enjoined his successors not to alienate any part of the Spanish monarchy. He died about a month after signing this will (November 1st), in the thirty-ninth year of his age and thirty-seventh of his reign.
Had Spain consulted her real interests, she would probably have adopted another pretender, Don Pedro II King of Portugal; whose claims, derived from Joanna, putative daughter of Henry the Impotent, were, however, never seriously regarded. By such a choice the union of Spain and Portugal might have been pacifically achieved; but the Spaniards, anxious to keep together a monarchy of whose extension they were proud, though they had not themselves the power to defend it, preferred the French Prince as more capable of maintaining an empire which was at once their glory and their ruin.
By the will, a Junta, or Council, of Regency was established, consisting of the Queen, as President, the Primate (Cardinal Portocarrero) the Inquisitor-General, the Presidents of Castile and Aragon, and two representatives of the grandees and Council of State. The Junta immediately assumed the direction of affairs, and dispatched a messenger to Louis with a copy of the will. Should Louis refuse to accept the inheritance, the messenger was instructed to proceed to Vienna and offer it to the Archduke Charles. The matter had been already discussed and decided; a French courier had previously arrived with the news, when Louis summoned a council consisting of the Dauphin, and three ministers of state, the chancellor Pontchartrain, the Duke de Beauvilliers, and Torci the foreign secretary, to discuss the momentous question of acceptance or rejection. Louis had to decide between a crown for his grandson, or the aggrandizement of France according to the Treaty of Partition. A decision either way might produce a war; but in the one case it would probably be short and successful, in the other it would be impossible to predict either its length or its issue. Beauvilliers alone is said to have declared against accepting the offer. His principal arguments were: that Louis would be accused of violating his engagements with England and Holland, who would not suffer him to give the law, in the name of his grandson, to the vast monarchy of Spain; that the wounds which France had received were still bleeding, and in case of acceptance must be again opened in a general European war; and that it would be a hundred times more advantageous for France to unite several fine provinces to the monarchy than to place a French Prince on a foreign throne, whose descendants would themselves shortly become strangers to the country of their ancestors. On the other side it was urged by Torci that the question lay not between war and peace, but between one war and another—between the Spanish monarchy or nothing; that, the will substituting the House of Austria for France, there could be no ground for claiming part of the inheritance, after rejecting the whole; that even this part would have to be conquered from the Austrians, aided by the Spaniards, who would support the integrity of their monarchy; that the English and Dutch would lend only a feeble aid, and probably abandon the contest altogether; and that thus an Austrian Prince would be again planted on the Pyrenees. The chancellor merely summed up the arguments without pronouncing any opinion; while the Dauphin, with unwonted energy, demanded the acceptance of the will, and declared that he would not renounce his claims except in favour of his son, the Duke of Anjou.
This discussion seems to have been a mere ceremony for the sake of appearances, and it is probable that Louis XIV had signified his assent to the will before its execution. Louis did not declare his resolution till three days after the meeting of the Council; when, in the presence of the Spanish ambassador, at Versailles, he announced it by addressing the Duke of Anjou as follows: “Sir, the King of Spain has made you a King. The grandees demand you, the people of Spain desire you, and I give my consent”. The Spanish ambassador, on his knees, then saluted and complimented his new master as “Philip V”, the folding doors were thrown open, Louis presented his grandson to the assembled courtiers with the words, “Sirs, here is the King of Spain”, and the ceremony ended by Louis exhorting Philip to be a good Spaniard, but at the same time to remember that he was born a Frenchman.
By character, however, Philip V might easily have been a lineal descendant of Philip IV, so closely did his habits resemble those of the hereditary Spanish House. Shy, hypochondriac, docile, monotonously regular, without either great faults or striking virtues, he was fit only to be governed, as his predecessors had been before him. At the time of his accession, indeed, being then only seventeen years of age, Philip’s character was as yet undeveloped, and consequently unknown to the Spaniards. Immediately on receipt of Louis XIV’s answer, the Junta caused Philip V to be proclaimed at Madrid, and addressed a letter to the Most Christian King, in which they begged him to dispose of everything in Spain, and assured him that his orders should be as exactly obeyed as in France. Philip passed the Bidasoa January 22nd, 1701, and on February 18th entered Madrid, where he was received with the acclamations of the people. All the European provinces, all the American and Asiatic possessions, of the vast Spanish Empire immediately recognized the new Monarch; nor was his title at first disputed by the greater part of the European Powers. The Elector of Bavaria, then resident at Brussels as governor of the Catholic Netherlands—a dignity which had been procured for him by William III—was the first prince who recognized Philip V; both from hatred of the Emperor, whom he suspected of having poisoned his son, and from the hope that Louis would convert his government in the Netherlands into an hereditary one. Louis XIV, as was indeed his interest, showed every disposition to conciliate the Courts of Europe. His minister at the Hague was instructed to insist on the sacrifices which the French King had made in not accepting the Partition Treaty, which would have aggrandized France by the addition of so many fine provinces; to declare that he had renounced these advantages rather than cause a war which would disturb the repose of Europe; and to point out that had he adhered to the Treaty, a war must have inevitably ensued both with Spain and Austria; the former nation being determined that their monarchy should not be divided, which, in the event of his refusal to accept it, would have been offered to the Archduke Charles.
Although this reasoning did not satisfy William III, he was compelled for a time, by the force of circumstances, to acquiesce in it. In England, William’s government was not popular, owing to the Treaties of Partition; the nation was at that time averse to a war with France, and it would have been impossible for him to obtain from Parliament the necessary supplies for carrying it on. With regard to Holland, Louis clinched hisreasonings by an appeal to force. By virtue of a convention with Philip II, some of the cities of the Spanish Netherlands, as Antwerp, Namur, Charleroi, and others, were garrisoned by Dutch troops, in order that they might serve as a barrier against France. But Louis, having obtained from Madrid authority to take such measures as he should deem necessary for the public good, the Elector of Bavaria, as governor of the Netherlands, was instructed to pay the same deference to his orders as to those of Philip V; and the Elector, who, as we have said, was well inclined to France, readily permitted French troops to enter the towns garrisoned by the Dutch. On the pretencethat the States-General were preparing a league, in conjunction with England, against Louis Philip V and France, the Dutch were now required to evacuate these towns; and they were not even allowed a free retreat till the States, alarmed at the force which menaced their frontier, consented to acknowledge Philip V as King of Spain. William, having at present no means of resistance, found it expedient to follow his example. In April, 1701, he addressed a letter to Philip V, in which he congratulated “his very dear brother” on his happy accession.
The situation of the rest of Europe was also, on the whole, at first favourable to Philip V. The Northern and Eastern Powers were occupied with the great war that had broken out among them. The greater part of the German princes, struck with astonishment that the Treaty of Partition, to which they had been so earnestly pressed to accede, should have been so suddenly abandoned, remained silent and inactive. The Emperor Leopold was threatened in his hereditary States by a Hungarian insurrection, while the Empire was in the throes of a crisis occasioned by the erection of the Hanoverian Electorate; the States confederated against this innovation were arming, and the Diet had been compelled to suspend its deliberations. Some of the German princes, as the Electors of Bavaria, and Cologne, the Dukes of Brunswick Wolfenbüttel, and Saxe Gotha, and the Bishop of Minister, declared for France; and in March, 1701, Bavaria concluded a formal treaty of alliance with Louis. The Duke of Savoy, already connected with France by the marriage of his daughter Adelaide to the Duke of Burgundy, and now further gained by the union of his younger daughter, Louisa Gabriella, with Philip V, as well as by the post of generalissimo of the Crowns of France and Spain in Italy, was among the first to recognize the new King of Spain; and he also engaged to allow the French troops at all times free passage into Italy. The marriage of Philip and the Piedmontese Princess was celebrated at Figueras in September, 1701. The bride was only in her fourteenth year, and as her extreme youth naturally gave rise to the expectation that she would be governed by some adviser, the Court of Versailles selected as her Camerera Mayor, or chief lady of her household, the celebrated Princess Orsini (or Des Ursins), who had gained the friendship and confidence of Madame de Maintenon, and who was deemed well fitted to promote French interests at the Spanish Court. The example of Victor Amadeus was followed by the Duke of Mantua (February, 1701). Portugal also pronounced itself in favour of the new Spanish dynasty, and ultimately a treaty was concluded at Lisbon between that Power and Spain (June, 1701); by which Portugal engaged to support the succession of Philip V, and to shut its ports against every nation that should attempt to hinder it by arms.
Under these circumstances, it is possible that if Louis had acted with moderation and judgment he might have prevented the great coalition which was at length formed against him.
But his measures were such as to excite suspicion and mistrust, while they offended by their arrogance. One of his first steps after the departure of the Duke of Anjou for Spain was to send him letters patent reserving his rights to the French crown in default of the Duke of Burgundy and his male heirs, and without any stipulation that he must choose between the crowns of France and Spain; thus renewing the fears respecting the union of those crowns on the same head. These letters were all the more impolitic from being superfluous, since the Duke of Anjou’s accession to the Spanish throne did not invalidate his rights to that of France; as appears in the instance of Henry III, who, though he had been King of Poland, succeeded his brother, Charles IX. Besides this measure, which concerned all Europe, he adopted others which irritated and alarmed particular States. The Dutch were injured in their commerce by Louis supplanting them in the Spanish Asiento, or monopoly of the slave trade; while at the same time the new works which he constructed within sight of their fortresses, and the increase of his army, excited their apprehensions that he contemplated renewing his former hostilities. The English, besides their commerce being injured, like that of the Dutch, by the exclusion of the ships of both those nations from Spanish ports, were further insulted by an open and flagrant violation of the Peace of Ryswick. James II having died at St. Germain, September, 1701, Louis, on September 16th, in contravention of that treaty, openly gave James’s son the title of King of England. The indignation which this act excited in England at length enabled William III to bring to a practical issue the negotiations which he had been long conducting with the Emperor.
When the testament of Charles II was declared, Count Harrach, the Imperial ambassador, quitted Madrid, after entering a formal protest against it. The protest was renewed at Vienna, and early in 1701 the Emperor entered into secret negotiations with William III with a view to overthrow the will. England and Holland also concluded an alliance with Denmark (January 20th, 1701), by which, in case of hostilities breaking out, that Power engaged to shut all her ports against ships of war, and in consideration of a subsidy, to the occupation of the Flemish fortresses by the French troops, William even obtained some supplies from the English Parliament; but the nation was not yet prepared to enter into a general war, and William had been compelled to content himself with some fruitless negotiations with Louis XIV; for, though very equitable conditions were offered, the French King would not listen to them. Leopold, however, drew the sword without waiting for the alliance of the Maritime Powers. That Upper Italy and Belgium should be in the hands of the French, appeared to Prince Eugene, Leopold’s counsellor as well as general, so pregnant with danger to Germany that he pressed the Emperor to assert his right to the Spanish inheritance, and undertook himself to open the war in Italy with 30,000 men. Leopold determined to follow Eugene’s advice, although all his other counsellors dissuaded him from it, and represented Austria as so overloaded with debt that she could not maintain an army of 15,000 men in the field. Austria, indeed, was not in a condition to oppose alone the united power of France and Spain; but Leopold was encouraged by the hope of the ultimate aid of England and Holland, as well as of the Empire. And although some of the minor Princes of the Empire, offended by the affair of the Hanoverian Electorate, had combined against the Emperor, and even appealed to France and Sweden, as guarantors of the Peace of Westphalia, yet all the Electors, except Bavaria and Cologne, were devoted to Leopold. George Louis of Hanover, as we have already seen, was bound to him by a formal treaty: and Leopold now enticed the much more powerful prince, Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, into a similar engagement, by conferring upon him the title of King.
Frederick’s temper led him to attach much weight to the outward symbols of greatness. It was not without some feelings of envy that he had seen the Prince of Orange raised to the English throne, and Augustus of Saxony to that of Poland. He had been several years negotiating with the Emperor on this subject; but his elevation to the royal dignity had been warmly opposed as well by politicians as by religious zealots, who did not wish to see the number of Protestant Sovereigns increased. The affair of the Spanish succession, however, determined the Emperor to secure a powerful ally by a concession which cost him nothing. By a treaty between the Emperor and the Elector, commonly called the Treaty of the Crown, executed at Vienna November 16th, 1700, Leopold engaged to recognize the title which Frederick proposed to assume of King of Prussia, while Frederick bound himself to place 10,000 men in the field, to side in the Diet always with Austria, to give his electoral vote in favour of the descendants of the Emperor’s son Joseph, King of the Romans, etc., etc. No sooner did the Elector hear of the signing of this treaty than, in the middle of winter, he hastened with his family and Court to Konigsberg, and, with great pomp and ceremony, placed the crown upon his own head, January 18th, 1701. The Emperor sent an envoy extraordinary to Berlin to congratulate him, and this example was followed by most of the European Powers, except France and Spain. The assumption of the Prussian crown was opposed only by the Teutonic Order, a body now of no importance, and by Pope Clement XI, who had ascended the chair of Peter, November 23rd, 1700. In an allocution in the Consistory, Clement lamented that the Emperor should have sanctioned an act so detrimental to the Church, without reflecting that the Holy Chair alone has the power of appointing kings!
Eugene, who had massed his army in the environs of Trent and Roveredo, descended into the plains of Verona towards the end of May, 1701, with 25,000 men;Catinat, who commanded the French auxiliary army in Lombardy, retreating before him. Early in July the Imperialists defeated the French at Carpi, in the Duchy of Modena, and proceeded to occupy the whole district between the Adige and the Adda. The disappointment of Louis XIV was extreme: he recalled Catinat, though the reverses of the French seem to have been owing more to the Duke of Savoy, their generalissimo, who, in fact, did not wish for their success. Catinat was succeeded by Marshal Villeroi, who soon gave another proof of the incapacity which he had displayed in 1695, by incurring a signal defeat at Chiari, near Brescia. This was the last action this year in Lombardy, where alone the war had as yet broken out.
The successes of Prince Eugene encouraged William III to league himself with the Emperor; who, on September 7th, concluded, at the Hague, with England and the States-General, the treaty which must be regarded as the basis of the Grand Alliance. The object of it was stated to be to procure his Imperial Majesty a just and reasonable satisfaction for his claims, and the King of Great Britain and the States-General a sufficient security for their territories, navigation, and commerce. The Spanish Netherlands were to be conquered in order to serve as a barrier to the United Provinces; also the Milanese, the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, the Mediterranean islands, and the Spanish possessions on the coast of Tuscany. No peace was to be made without measures having been first adopted to prevent France and Spain from being ever united under the same king, to hinder the French from becoming masters of the Spanish Indies, and to insure to the English and Dutch the same commercial privileges in all the Spanish dominions which they had enjoyed under the late King of Spain. The Empire was to be particularly invited to accede to this treaty, as interested in the recovery of certain fiefs which had been detached from it.
War, however, was not yet declared against France, and might, perhaps, have been long deferred had not Louis com- mitted the mistake of recognizing as King of England the son of James II. In consequence of this step an article was added to the treaty (March, 1702), by which the Emperor engaged not to make peace with France till Great Britain had received satisfaction for this injury. William III, availing himself of the feeling excited in England by Louis’s act, summoned a new Parliament, which approved his now openly-avowed negotiations and policy, and granted liberal supplies of men and money to carry them out; attainted the pretended Prince of Wales, and by the Act of Abjuration for ever excluded the Stuarts from the throne of Great Britain. But at the moment when he had thus matured and organized the great league for resisting the ambition of France, he was prevented by death from directing, as he had purposed, the operations of the war (March 19th, 1702). His successor, Queen Anne, however, pursued the same line of policy which he had marked out; and the military affairs of the Grand Alliance probably suffered no detriment from being conducted (in place of the King) by the Earl of Marlborough, whom William had already dispatched with 10,000 men to Holland. In the United Netherlands also the death of William occasioned no change of foreign policy, although it was followed by a species of domestic revolution. A little before his death William had endeavored to procure the nomination of his cousin Friso of Nassau, who was already hereditary Stadholder of Friesland and Groningen, as his successor in the Stadholdership of Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Grelderland, and Overyssel; but that dignity was now abolished in these five provinces, which resumed the republican form of government established in the time of De Witt. The chief share in the direction of the affairs of the United Netherlands now fell to Daniel Heinsius, Grand Pensionary of Holland. Heinsius, Marlborough, and Eugene formed the soul of the Grand Alliance, and obtained the name of the Triumvirate of the Coalition. Louis XIV had endeavored to take advantage of the death of William to seduce the Dutch from their allies; but Heinsius was a devoted adherent to the system of that politic Prince, and the States-General indignantly repulsed the advances of France. The three allied Powers declared war against France and Spain in May, 1702.
Leopold used every endeavor to engage the confederated body of the Empire in the war; and in the preceding March he had succeeded in obtaining the accession of the five Circles of Swabia, Franconia, the Upper and Lower Rhine, and Austria, to the Grand Alliance. This example was soon afterwards followed by the Elector of Treves and the Circle of Westphalia. Swabia, Franconia, and the Rhenish Circles had previously belonged to a union, formed by the Elector of Bavaria at the instigation of Louis XIV, in the summer of 1701, for the purpose of maintaining their neutrality in the quarrel between the Emperor and Louis. The Elector of Bavaria engaged in the cause of France and Spain his brother, the Elector of Cologne, that very Joseph Clement whose investiture had been so strenuously resisted by Louis, and had been the immediate cause of the war of 1688. Joseph Clement admitted French garrisons into the fortresses of his Electorate and into the citadel of Liege, while the Elector of Bavaria continued to affect neutrality, and to negotiate with the Emperor; but in June, 1702, he concluded a secret treaty with Louis XIV and Philip V, who promised him the hereditary government of the Netherlands. In Lower Saxony the two malcontent Dukes of Brunswick Wolfenbüttel had raised an army of 12,000 men, and given the command to a Frenchman; but the Elector of Hanover entered their dominions with a stronger force (March, 1702), and compelled them to disarm; and the Emperor afterwards found means to separate the brothers by promising the sole sovereignty to the elder.
On September 8th the Elector of Bavaria at length threw off the mask, and obtained possession of the Imperial city of Ulm by sending into it, on the previous evening, soldiers disguised as peasants, who opened the gates to their comrades. Maximilian refused to give it up, in spite of a decree of the Diet of Ratisbon, as well as a remonstrance addressed to him by his father-in-law, the Emperor; and he proceeded to seize Memmingen and other places necessary to secure his communications with the French. The Emperor, having a majority in the Diet at Ratisbon, now issued a declaration of war against France in the name of the Empire (October 6th, 1702), which differed little in essential points from that which he had already published as Sovereign of Austria. The Diet also empowered the Emperor to adopt against Bavaria all the measures permitted by the constitution of the Empire; in consequence of which proclamations were issued commanding all subjects of the Empire, on pain of ban and over ban—that is, of death—to quit the service of the Elector, and to enter that of the Emperor and his allies. And a few weeks later the subjects of the Elector were released by Imperial letters patent from their allegiance to their Sovereign. Before these occurrences, the war, which in the previous year had been confined to Lombardy, had already become general.
1702.—In Italy, Prince Eugene opened the campaign at the beginning of February by surprising Cremona, the French head-quarters. His troops, however, were at length repulsed, but carried off prisoner Marshal Villeroi, the French Commander-in-chief, who was replaced by the Duke of Vendome.
Vendome compelled Eugene to raise the siege of Mantua (May). Philip V, who had landed at Naples in the spring, joined Vendome at Cremona in July, to take the command of the army in person. The combined forces—Philip V had brought a few thousand Spaniards—attacked Eugene near Suzzara, and captured that town (August). After this action, which was the last of any importance, Philip V set off for Spain, on the news of a descent of the English and Dutch near Cadiz.
On the Lower Rhine, the English and Dutch, under Marlborough as Commander-in-chief, began the campaign, in April, by an attack on the Electorate of Cologne, in execution of an Imperial decree against the Elector Joseph Clement. In this quarter the French were nominally under the command of the Duke of Burgundy, but were really led by Marshal Boufflers. The allies successively took Kaiserwerth, Venloo,Stephanswerth, and Ruremonde; and Marlborough, being thus master of the Lower Meuse, marched on and captured Liege, October 23rd.
On the Upper Rhine the Imperialists were commanded by Joseph, King of the Romans, and by Prince Louis of Baden, while the command of the French had been given to Catinat. It was with much reluctance and after long deliberation that Leopold had appointed his son Joseph to this post, out of anxiety for the life of his successor; and the King of the Romans proceeded to the army with so much pomp and so long a train that it was near the end of July before he joined the camp at Landau. That place, the bulwark of Alsace, which had been already invested during several months by Prince Louis of Baden, capitulated September 9th, the day after the surprise of Ulm by the Elector of Bavaria. In the following month Prince Louis was defeated at Friedlingenby Villars, who had joined the French army in Alsace, and was endeavoring to form a junction with the Elector of Bavaria (October 14th); but though this victory obtained for Villars the baton of Marshal, it led to no result.
In the autumn of this year an armament under the command of the Duke of Ormond, consisting of a combined English and Dutch fleet of fifty sail of the line, besides smaller vessels and transports, under Sir George Rooke, and having on board 14,000 soldiers under Sir H. Bellasis, attempted a descent at Cadiz, but were repulsed by the Marquis of Villadarias, “with a great deal of plunder and infamy”, to use the expression of Colonel Stanhope, who took part in the expedition. The allies were, however, in some degree, consoled for their ill success by destroying the Spanish West India fleet, which had put into the Bay of Vigo (October 22nd). Seven French men-of-war, which formed part of its escort, and six galleons were captured, and many more were destroyed. The victors obtained a large treasure in bullion; and a still greater sum went to the bottom of the sea, a terrible loss for the Spanish finances.
1703.—Marlborough, who had now been made a duke, returned into the Netherlands with reinforcements in the spring of 1703, where he was opposed byVilleroi, commander-in-chief of the French army, who had been ransomed, and, under him, by Marshal Boufflers. The allies took Bonn (May 15th), thus completing the conquest of the Electorate of Cologne; but Marlborough’s enterprises were checked by the delegates of the States-General, and little else of importance was done. The campaign ended by the allies taking Limbourg and Geldern.
The campaign in Germany had been more active. The Imperial forces had not been hitherto strong enough to take the offensive against the Elector of Bavaria; the Elector of Saxony, who was also King of Poland, and the King of Prussia having been compelled to withhold their contingents in consequence of the invasion of Poland by the Swedes. But this spring Count Schlick, the Austrian commander, and CountStyrum, general of the army of the Circles, invaded the Bavarian dominions, Schlick on the side of the Inn, whilst Styrum attacked the Upper Palatinate. But the Elector, having defeated Schlick at Scharding (March 11th), and compelled Styrum to retire into Swabia, hastened to Ratisbon, and seized that important Imperial city, the seat of the German Diet. Marshal Villars, who had made himself master of Kehl, now resolved to form a junction with the Elector, which was effected at Villingen (May). But instead of adopting the suggestion of Villars, and marching upon Vienna, the capture of which might probably have been easily effected, the Elector preferred to attack Tyrol, where Vendome, marching by way of Trent, with half the army of Italy, was to form a junction with him. The Elector penetrated by Kufstein and Innsbruck to the foot of the Brenner, while Vendome, who had been somewhat slow in his movements, was bombarding Trent. But the Tyrolese peasants having risen against the Bavarians, whilst the Austrians had invaded Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate, the Elector was compelled to retreat. Many misunderstandings ensued between him and Villars, which prevented them from acting cordially together; but at length, having formed a junction atNordendorf, they inflicted a severe defeat on the Imperialists in the plain of Hochstadt(September 20th). New differences, however, arose between the two commanders, and Villars, in disgust, obtained his recall. He was replaced by Marshal Marsin, one of whose first exploits was to take Augsburg, which had been occupied by the Imperialists. Another opportunity now presented itself of marching upon Vienna. The insurrection in Hungary, led by Francis Ragotski, had assumed colossal proportions; the Hungarian light cavalry even threatened Vienna; and the Emperor was obliged to withdraw the garrisons from Passau and Pressburg in order to defend his capital. At the pressing instance of Louis XIV, the Elector now, when it was too late in the season, undertook to invade Austria, took Passau, and pressed on to Enns, in the Austrian dominions; but the rigour of the season compelled him to return to Munich. Meanwhile the French army on the Rhine, under the Duke of Burgundy, Vauban, andTallard, had taken Breisach (September 7th), defeated the Imperialists at Spirebach(November 15th), and recaptured Landau two days afterwards.
In Italy, Prince Eugene had temporarily resigned the command of the much-reduced Imperial forces to Count Stahremberg, and had proceeded to Vienna to solicit reinforcements, in which capital he acted as president of the Council of War. Vendome’s fruitless expedition into Tyrol, partly also his indolence, had, however, prevented him from taking advantage of his vast numerical superiority. The chief event in this quarter was the defection of the Duke of Savoy from the cause of his son-in-law, Philip V. The fickle Victor Amadeus, disgusted at not having received the command of the French and Spanish troops, as well as by the non-payment of the subsidies, and hoping also to obtain a share of the Milanese, acceded to the Grand Alliance in October. He stipulated that the Emperor should have an army of 120,000 men in Italy, which he was to join with 15,000, and to have the command-in-chief. The Duke’s negotiations with the Emperor, which had been going on since January, were well known to Louis XIV; the Piedmontese troops in the French service had been disarmed and arrested before the treaty was signed, and Vendome had demanded the surrender of Turin, which, however, he was not in a condition to enforce. The Duke of Savoy was not the only ally that Louis XIV lost this year. The Admiral of Castile, alienated from the cause of Philip V by having been dismissed from his office of Master of the Horse, had retired into Portugal; and he succeeded in persuading King Pedro II to accede to the Grand Alliance, who was enticed by the promise of the American provinces between the Rio de la Plata and Brazil, as well as a part of Estremadura and Galicia (May 6th). Pedro also entered into a perpetual defensive league with Great Britain and the States-General. In the following December Paul Methuen, the English minister at Lisbon, concluded the celebrated commercial treaty between England and Portugal named after himself. It is the most laconic treaty on record, containing only two Articles, to the effect that Portugal was to admit British cloths, and England to admit Portuguese wines, at one-third less duty than those of France.
Don Pedro’s accession to the Grand Alliance entirely changed the plans of the allies. Instead of confining themselves to the procuring of a reasonable indemnity for the Emperor, they now resolved to drive Philip V from the throne of Spain, and to place an Austrian Archduke upon it in his stead. The Emperor and his eldest son Joseph formally renounced their claims to the throne of Spain in favour of the Archduke Charles, Leopold’s second son, who was proclaimed King of Spain, with the title of Charles III. The new King was to proceed into Portugal, and, with the assistance of Don Pedro, endeavor to obtain possession of Spain.
Charles accordingly went through Holland to England, and, after paying a visit to Queen Anne at Windsor, sailed for Lisbon, February 17th, 1704.
Campaign of 1704.—This year was rendered memorable by Marlborough’s brilliant campaign in Germany. The French under Tallard and Marsin had determined to advance into Austria, and take Vienna, and force the Emperor to make peace. The English general, finding that Villeroi and Boufflers were resolved to remain on the defensive in Flanders, determined to proceed to the help of Austria. After a rapid and unopposed march he formed a junction with Prince Louis of Baden, near Ulm, June 22nd; and, on July 2nd, the united armies stormed and took the heights ofSchellenberg, near Donauworth, where Max Emanuel and Marsin had established a strongly fortified position. This victory rendered the allies masters of the course of the Danube, with the exception of Ulm and Ingolstadt; and they now offered the Electorfavourable conditions of peace, which, however, he refused. Marlborough was joined by Eugene with his forces at Donauworth, August 11th, while Louis of Baden besieged Ingolstadt. On the other hand, the French general, Tallard, having joined the Elector and Marsin, Max Emanuel determined to attack the allies, in spite of the representations of the French generals, who were for remaining at Hochstadt, a position easily defended. The French and Bavarians had encamped at a spot between Blenheim and Lutzingen, when, on the morning of August 13th, the allies determined to anticipate their attack. In the Battle of Blenheim, Marlborough commanded thecentre and left wing of the allied army, consisting of English and Dutch, and resting on the Danube. He was opposed to the French under Marshal Tallard; while Eugene, with the right wing of the allies, consisting of Austrians and Germans, was in face of the Elector and Marsin, who occupied the village of Lutzingen and some wooded heights in the neighborhood. Tallard was defeated and taken prisoner after a hot engagement, and Marlborough then detached some troops to the help of Eugene, who was maintaining an unequal struggle with the Bavarians and French. But the Elector and Marsin, observing the rout of Tallard, retired towards Ulm in good order, without attempting to aid him. By a series of cavalry charges Marlborough broke through thecentre and divided the enemy. The main struggle was at the village of Blenheim, whereTallard had imprudently massed a large body of infantry which was entirely useless. In the evening, these troops, to the number of between 10,000 and 12,000 men, were forced to surrender themselves prisoners of war, while a still greater number of killed and wounded strewed the field of battle. In consequence of this decisive victory Vienna was saved, all chance of a French invasion of England was over, and the French were compelled to recross the Rhine and evacuate all Germany. The allied generals also crossed the Rhine at Philippsburg, September 5th, Villeroi, with the French army of reserve in that quarter, not venturing to oppose them. The Germans and Austrians now invested Landau, where they were joined by the King of the Romans; while Marlborough, advancing to the Moselle, finished the campaign by occupying Treves, taking Trarbach, and pushing his advanced posts to the Sarre.
First Foot Guards advance to attack Blenheim: Battle of Blenheim 2nd August 1704
Landau surrendered to the Imperialists, November 24th. While the siege was going on, the Elector of Bavaria’s second wife, a daughter of John Sobieski, to whom he had abandoned the reins of government, appeared in the Imperial camp, and concluded a treaty with the King of the Romans, by which she agreed to dismiss her army, and to surrender to the Emperor all the fortresses of Bavaria, with the exception of Munich, which was to be reserved for her domain and residence, but dismantled. The Emperor appointed Count Lowenstein Governor of Bavaria, and Max Emanuel was forced to content himself with his ancient government of the Spanish Netherlands.
The French were more successful in Italy, which the allies had been obliged in a great measure to sacrifice to their important operations in Germany. Vendome succeeded in taking Vercelli and Ivrea, and in the following spring Verrua; thus rendering himself master of all the north of Piedmont, and re-establishing the communication with the Milanese, though he did not venture to attack Turin.
In March, 1704, the Pretender, Charles III., with an English and Dutch army of 12,000 men, landed in Portugal, with the intention of entering Spain on that side; but so far was he from accomplishing this plan that the Spaniards, on the contrary, under the Duke of Berwick, penetrated into Portugal, and even threatened Lisbon, but were driven back by the Marquis das Minas. An English fleet under Admiral Rooke, with troops under the Prince of Darmstadt, made an ineffectual attempt on Barcelona; but were compensated for their failure by the capture of Gibraltar on their return. The importance of this fortress, the key of the Mediterranean, was not then sufficiently esteemed, and its garrison had been neglected by the Spanish Government. A party of English sailors, taking advantage of a saint’s day (St. Dominic), on which the eastern portion of the fortress had been left unguarded, scaled the almost inaccessible precipice, whilst at the same time another party stormed the South Mole Head. The capture of this important fortress was the work of a few hours (August 4th). Darmstadt would have claimed the place for King Charles III, but Rooke took possession of it in the name of Queen Anne.
The general results, therefore, of the campaign of 1704 were greatly in favour of the allies, and may be said to have decided the whole future of the war. The French had been driven out of Germany, and had lost Bavaria as an ally; Gibraltar, the key of the Mediterranean, had fallen into the hands of England, while the English and Dutch, established upon the Moselle, threatened France herself. Against all this Louis could only set off his slight and indecisive success in Italy.
1705.—This year was marked by the death of the Emperor Leopold, May 5th; a feeble prince, governed alternately by his wives, his ministers, and his confessors. His son, Joseph I, who, as King of the Romans, immediately assumed the Imperial title was of a more enterprising and decisive character. One of his first acts was to endeavor to conciliate the revolted Hungarians. In the preceding year, the party of Prince Ragotskihad seized many of the towns of Hungary, and had even insulted Vienna itself; but had been beaten in July near Raab, and in December near Tyrnau. From these defeats, however, the Hungarians had recovered; and though Joseph endeavored to conciliate them by dismissing from office the friends of the Jesuits, whom they detested, and even accepted the mediation of England and Holland between himself and his revolted subjects, Ragotski’s party would hear of nothing short of the restoration of their elective constitution and the renunciation of Transylvania by the Emperor.
In a Diet, held in September, 1705, Ragotski was elevated on a buckler, as the supreme head of the Magyar confederation. But, without more help than Louis XIV was now in a condition to afford them, and while the Turks remained neutral, the Hungarian insurrection, though annoying, could not prove formidable to Austria, especially as Joseph, by way of diversion, had succeeded in exciting some of the Slavonic tribes against the Magyars.
The campaign of 1705 was destitute of any important events on the side of Germany and the Netherlands. Villars, who, after resigning his command, had been employed in the somewhat inglorious office of opposing an insurrection of theCamisards, or Protestants of the Cevennes, was this year sent to oppose Marlborough on the Moselle, while Berwick was withdrawn from Spain to supply his place. Villars, establishing a fortified camp at Sierck, prevented Marlborough, who was but ill supported by the Imperialists, from penetrating into Lorraine; and the rest of the season was spent in unimportant operations in the Netherlands. In Bavaria, the peasants, irritated by the oppressions of the Austrian Government, rose in a body, in the autumn, and, could they have been supported by France, would have placed the Emperor in great danger; but without that aid the insurrection only proved fatal to themselves. The insurgents were beaten in detail, and the Emperor now resolved on the complete dissolution of Bavaria as a state. The four elder sons of Maximilian were carried to Klagenfurt in Carinthia, to be there educated, under the strictest inspection, as Counts of Wittelsbach, while the younger sons were consigned to the care of a Court lady of Munich, and the daughters sent to a convent. The Electress, who had been on a visit to Venice, was not permitted to return to her dominions, and the Elector Maximilian, as well as the Elector of Cologne, was, by a decree of the Electoral College, placed under the ban of the Empire.
The Upper Palatinate was restored to the Elector Palatine, as well as the title ofArchdapifer (Seneschal); while by resigning the title of Arch treasurer (Erzschatzmeister), the Palatine enabled the Emperor to transfer it to the new Elector of Hanover, whose dignity was now universally acknowledged. The remaining Bavarian territories were confiscated, and divided among various princes.
While the campaign was thus unimportant in the Netherlands and Germany, the interest of the war was concentrated in Italy and Spain. In the former country the French forces were disposed in two divisions; one in Piedmont, whose object it was to take Turin, and the other in Lombardy, charged with preventing Eugene from marching to the assistance of the Duke of Savoy. This last object was accomplished by Vendome in person, who, having defeated Eugene at Cassano (August 16th), finally compelled him to re-enter the Tyrol. But this success was achieved by abandoning for the present the attempt on Turin; though, in other respects, the war in that quarter wasfavourable to the French, who, in course of the year, made themselves masters of Mirandola, Chivasso, Nice, and Montmelian. The last two places were dismantled.
While the French were thus successful in Italy, the still more important events in Spain were in favour of the allies. The Spaniards, sensible of the importance of Gibraltar, speedily made an effort to recover that fortress, and as early as October, 1704, it was invested by the Marquis of Villadarias with an army of 8,000 men. The French Court afterwards sent Marshal Tesse to supersede Villadarias, and the siege continued till April, 1705; but the brave defence of the Prince of Darmstadt, and the defeat of the French blockading squadron under Pointis by Admiral Lake, finally compelled the raising of the siege. On the side of Portugal, the operations of the allies were confined to the taking of the unimportant towns of Valenza, Salvaterra, and Albuquerque on the borders of Estremadura, and an ineffectual attempt on Badajoz. This want of success, however, on the western boundary of Spain was more than compensated on the opposite quarter. Charles Mordaunt, the celebrated Earl of Peterborough, who, with some 5,000 English and Dutch troops, had sailed from Portsmouth early in June with the fleet under Sir Cloudesley Shovel, was furnished with a sort of roving commission, well suited to his erratic and enterprising temper, either to aid the Duke of Savoy, or “to make a vigorous push in Spain”, at Barcelona, Cadiz, or wherever an opportunity might offer. Peterborough, having taken on board at Lisbon the Archduke Charles, and at Gibraltar the Prince of Darmstadt, was by them persuaded to undertake the siege of Barcelona. On the way thither, the castle of Denia, in Valencia, Charles III was occupied without much opposition, where Charles III was, for the first time, publicly proclaimed King of Spain and the Indies. The expedition arrived off Barcelona, August 16th, and that important and strongly fortified city was at length reduced to surrender (October 9th), through the bold and hazardous, but successful operation of Peterborough in first capturing Montjuich, an almost impregnable fort which commands the city. The Prince of Darmstadt was killed in the assault on Montjuich. Charles III entered Barcelona, October 23rd, amidst the acclamation of the people, and was again proclaimed King of Spain. The whole province of Catalonia now declared in his favour, and the example was soon followed by the greater part of Valencia.
James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick. Son of James II of England.
1706.—The military operations this year were still more disastrous for the French than those of 1704 had been. Philip V, in person, assisted by Marshal Tesse, made an attempt to recover Barcelona, assisted by a fleet under the Count of Toulouse; who, however, on the approach of the English and Dutch fleets, was compelled to retreat, and the siege was then raised (May 12th). Philip V and his army, afraid to retreat through Aragon amidst a hostile population, directed their march to Rousillon, and passing along the northern side of the Pyrenees, re-entered Spain through Navarre. The effect of this step was that all Aragon openly revolted, and proclaimed Charles III. The war on the Portuguese frontier was equally disastrous to Philip. The Duke of Berwick, who had assumed the chief command of the Spaniards in that quarter, was unable to arrest the progress of the allies. Alcantara and several other towns in Estremadura and Leon were rapidly taken; and on the news of the raising of the siege of Barcelona, the allies marched from Salamanca on Madrid. Philip V, who had regained his capital only a few days before, abandoned it on their approach (June 19th), having been preceded in his flight by the grandees, the Councils of State, and the public tribunals; so that the allies, on entering Madrid (June 25th), found it almost deserted. But the allied generals, Lord Galway and Das Minas, instead of pursuing and annihilating the Spanish forces, lost a whole month in the capital; while the Archduke Charles also delayed his march from Barcelona to Madrid, although he had been proclaimed King of Spain in that capital. Meanwhile the dormant loyalty, or rather, perhaps, the strong national feeling, of the Castilians and Andalusians was roused at seeing the capital of the kingdom in the possession of Portuguese and heretics. The Castilian cities rose against the garrisons which had been left in them by the invaders. At Toledo, where the Queen Dowager and Cardinal Portocarrero had taken up their residence, and forgetting their former quarrels in their common hatred of the new dynasty, had warmly welcomed the entry of the allies, the people rose in insurrection, tore down the Austrian standards which Portocarrero had blessed, and the Queen had hoisted at her palace, and made her a prisoner of state. The Andalusians raised of their own accord 14,000 foot and 4,000 horse for the cause of Philip. Towards the end of July the Duke of Berwick, having united his small army with the troops which had returned through Navarre from the siege of Barcelona, as well as with some new levies, advanced upon Madrid; when the allied generals, seeing no hope of holding that capital in the midst of a disaffected population, marched out to meet the Archduke Charles and Peterborough, whom they joined at Guadalaxara, August 5th. Their united forces, however, were still unequal to those of Berwick; the men were suffering from sickness and want; dissensions arose among the generals; and Peterborough, disgusted with his position, set off for Italy to assist the Duke of Savoy, as he was authorized to do by his instructions. The allies now retreated, pursued by Berwick, into Valencia, where they took up their winter quarters. Thus terminated one of the most singular campaigns on record, in which Philip V, after being driven out of his kingdom, and seeing the allies in possession of his capital, regained it again in the space of a few months without a single general engagement; while the allied army, after beginning the campaign on the western frontier of Spain, closed it in the most eastern province of that kingdom. Other events of this year in Spain were the capture of Alicant and Cartagena by the English and Dutch fleets; which also induced the Isles of Ibiza and Majorca to declare for Charles III. But Cartagena was retaken by Berwick in the autumn.
The fortune of war was still more adverse to the French arms this year in Italy and Flanders. In the former country the campaign opened, indeed, in favour of the French; Vendome defeated the Austrian general, Reventlow, at Calcinato (April 19th), and prevented Eugene from penetrating beyond the district of Trent. But in the middle of June, Vendome was recalled from Italy to take the command in Flanders, and resigned his Italian command to the Duke of Orleans and Marsin; not, however, before he had been compelled by the advance of Eugene to abandon the line of the Adige and retire beyond the Mincio. Eugene continued to advance, Orleans retreating before him, till he joined the army of La Feuillade, which had invested Turin since May. Eugene having formed a junction with the Duke of Savoy near Carmagnola (August 29th), their united forces attacked the French lines before Turin, September 7th, and gained a complete victory, all the siege artillery, more than 100 guns and 40 mortars, falling into their hands. In this battle Marsin was killed, and the Duke of Orleans twice wounded. By the mismanagement of the French generals, the consequences of this victory were that all Lombardy submitted to the Imperialists. Eugene and Victor Amadeus entered Milan, September 24th, where Charles III was proclaimed; and, in March of the following year, a convention was signed by which the French agreed to evacuate almost the whole of Northern Italy. The Imperialists took possession of the Milanese and the Duchy of Mantua, ceding to the Duke of Savoy the Alexandrine and Lomelline, according to agreement.
The chief event of the campaign in the Netherlands in 1706 was Marlborough’s decisive victory over Marshal Villeroi at Ramillies, near Tirlemont, May 23rd. The result of this battle, in which more than 13,000 French were either killed, wounded, or made prisoners, and 100 guns and 120 colours were captured, was the conquest of all Brabant and the greater part of Flanders, by the allies in a fortnight. In consequence of this disaster, Villeroi was superseded by Vendome, who was recalled from Italy, as already related; but though that general succeeded in covering Ypres, Lille, andTournai, he could not prevent Marlborough from taking Menin, Dendermond, andAth. The campaign closed with the fall of the last-named place, October 2nd. The jealousy of the Dutch had prevented Marlborough from besieging Dunkirk. On the side of the Rhine, where Villars commanded the French forces, nothing of much importance was attempted this year, either by that commander or by the Imperialists.
These reverses induced Louis XIV to renew the offer for a peace which he had already indirectly made at the close of the preceding campaign. He had then proposed to certain members of the States-General that Spain should cede Naples, Sicily, and Milan; he now reverted pretty nearly to the terms of the Second Treaty of Partition, and offered that Philip V should cede Spain and the Indies to Charles III, and the Spanish Netherlands to the Dutch, thus retaining only Milan, Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia. These offers were opposed by the Imperial and English Cabinets, though the Dutch were inclined to accept them. The Emperor wished to gain the Milanese, and Marlborough, who desired a continuance of the war, threw all his influence against any negotiations with France. Louis afterwards attempted, but with like success, to open a separate negotiation with the Austrian Cabinet through Pope Clement XI, offering to cede the Italian provinces on condition that Philip V should retain Spain and the Indies.
Campaign 1707.—The events of the following year were more favourable to Louis and his grandson. The campaign in Spain was opened by the memorable Battle ofAlmanza, April 25th, which proved fatal to the cause of Charles III in that country. Peterborough, who had returned to Valencia in the spring, but was soon afterwards recalled to England, had counselled the allies to remain on the defensive; but Galway and Das Minas resolved to attack Berwick, in the hope that they could do so before he had been joined by his reinforcements; in which, however, they were disappointed. Charles, by an unaccountable whim, had set off for Barcelona before the battle, taking with him several thousand Spanish and Dutch soldiers, so that when the allies arrived on the vega, or plain of Almanza, they had scarcely 12,000 infantry, whilst the enemy had double that number, besides being superior in cavalry. The battle ended in the entire defeat of the allies, nearly the whole of whose infantry were either killed, wounded, or made prisoners; together with the loss of all their baggage and artillery and 120 standards. The bulk of the cavalry succeeded in escaping to Tortosa. This victory was purchased, on the part of the French and Spaniards, with the loss of only about 2,000 men. On this occasion the French were commanded by the Duke of Berwick, an Englishman, and the English by a Frenchman, Ruvigni, a Huguenot refugee, who had been made Earl of Galway; and neither of the Kings whose crown depended on the issue appeared on the field of battle. The consequence of this victory was the submission of nearly all Valencia and Aragon to Philip V. Philip punished the Aragonese for their revolt by abolishing what still remained to them of their Fueros, or provincial privileges. The campaign was terminated by the siege and capture of Lerida, the bulwark of Catalonia, by the French. The arms of Philip had also been successful on the Portuguese frontier, where Ciudad Rodrigo was retaken.
The successful progress of the allies in Italy was some compensation for their reverses in Spain. A small Imperial army, under Daun, marched through the Papal territories and occupied Naples without resistance (July); and the Spanish viceroy, who defended himself awhile at Gaeta, having surrendered on September 30th, the whole kingdom submitted to the Imperialists. The reverses of Charles III in Spain had contributed to this result, by leading the Neapolitans to hope that he would take up his residence in their capital. In Northern Italy, however, the operations of the allies had not been attended with the like success. The Duke of Savoy and Prince Eugene penetrating into France by the Maritime Alps and Nice, appeared before Toulon towards the end of July, while Sir Cloudesley Shovel blockaded it by sea. But the Imperialists were prevented by Marshal Tesse from completing the investment of the city, and the approach of some strong French divisions compelled them to make a hasty retreat beyond the Var. The Duke of Savoy and Eugene revenged themselves by driving the French from Susa, which they had still continued to occupy.
Defeating France required a coalition effort, and by attacking Louis XIV across multiple fronts the Allies forced the French to divide their substantial military resources.
In the Netherlands, where Vendome was instructed to remain on the defensive, and where the operations of Marlborough were obstructed by the States-General, nothing of importance took place. In Germany, Villars forced the lines of Stolhofen, which had been so long successfully defended by Prince Louis of Baden. That commander was now dead, and his place had been very incompetently supplied by the Margrave of Baireuth. Villars penetrated to the Danube, and laid all Swabia and Franconia under contribution; but the Elector of Hanover, afterwards George I of England, having been appointed to the command of the Imperial army, ultimately forced the French to recross the Rhine.
Campaign 1708.—The union between England and Scotland, effected in the preceding year, had caused a good deal of discontent in Scotland, of which Louis resolved to avail himself to attempt a descent of the Pretender, James III, in the Firth of Forth. Early in March the Pretender put to sea from Dunkirk with 5,000 men; but his fleet was dispersed by Admiral Byng, and the enterprise entirely frustrated.
The campaign this year was most active in the Netherlands where Marlborough had been joined by Prince Eugene. Early in July, Ghent and Bruges, disgusted, it is said, by the extortions of the allies, opened their gates to the French. A few days later (July 11th), the Duke of Burgundy and Vendome, attempting to prevent the allies from passing the Schelde near Oudenarde, were defeated with great loss by Marlborough and Eugene. This victory enabled the allies to enter French Flanders, where they laid siege to Lille, its capital, and obtained possession of the town by capitulation, October 22nd. The citadel, valiantly defended by Marshal Boufflers, did not surrender till December 9th. The Elector of Bavaria was compelled to raise the siege of Brussels, and Bruges and Ghent were retaken. Thus all Spanish Flanders, and part of French Flanders, remained in the hands of the allies.
On the Rhine, both sides remained on the defensive. In Spain, where Galway and Das Minas had been succeeded by Count Stahremberg and General Stanhope, Tortosaand Alicant were recovered by Philip V, and Charles III was compelled to shut himself up in Barcelona. Here he espoused a princess of Brunswick. The operations at sea were more favourable to the allies. The island of Sardinia voluntarily submitted to Admiral Lake and proclaimed Charles III (August); and in the following month Minorca was captured by the same Admiral and General Stanhope, Port Mahon was garrisoned by British troops, and, like Malta at a later period, continued many years to be England’s stronghold in the Mediterranean.
The length and ill success of the war had now begun to tell with fatal effect upon France. The financial difficulties occasioned by the enormous disbursements were met by ruinous loans, injudicious and vexatious taxes, the forestallment of future revenue, and the issue of paper money. The public misery was still further heightened by a winter of unparalleled severity. Even the impetuous Rhone was arrested by the ice; the sea froze as in the polar regions; the vines and fruit trees were destroyed; the corn perished in the earth. The pursuits of pleasure and the affairs of business were equally suspended; the tribunals, the theatres, and the shops were closed; whole families of the poor were found frozen to death in their hovels or their garrets. The dearth and famine which ensued produced discontent and sedition; insulting placards appeared against the government, and were affixed even to the statues of the Great King.
1709.—Louis, thus humiliated in the midst of all his glory, renewed his proposals for peace: and in the negotiations which were opened at the Hague went so far as to renounce, in the name of his grandson, the whole of the Spanish Succession, and even to offer to restore Strassburg to the Empire. The allies, however, and especially Marlborough and Eugene, entertained strong doubts of his sincerity, and regarded his proposals as designed only to adjourn the war to a more convenient season. Philip himself, so far from displaying any intention to abandon Spain, was making every effort to rouse the zeal and loyalty of the people in his favour; and during the progress of the negotiations he caused his son, an infant under two years of age, to be acknowledged by the Cortes of Castile and Aragon as Prince of Asturias and heir of the Spanish monarchy (April 7th, 1709). It was suspected that Louis would secretly help Philip to maintain himself in the Peninsula, as he had before succoured Portugal against Spain after the Treaty of the Pyrenees, and he was therefore required to assist the allies in compelling the Duke of Anjou to quit Spain at the expiration of two months. Louis availed himself of the harshness of this condition to rouse the pride of the French nation in his favour. In a public manifesto he detailed the sacrifices which he had been willing to make, and the insulting offers with which they had been met; an appeal which could not fail to be responded to by a nation like the French, who resolved to defend the honor of their king to the last extremity.
The Battle of Malplaquet, 1709: The Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene Entering the French Entrenchments
Extraordinary preparations were now made on both sides for renewing the war. Villars was selected to oppose Marlborough and Eugene in Flanders, the chief scene of operations this year. He could not save Tournai from the hands of the allies (September 3rd), who then invested Mons. For this purpose they were obliged to attack Villars in a strongly fortified position at Malplaquet, from which they succeeded in driving him, but not without suffering enormous loss (September 11th). From the numbers engaged, and the immense returns of killed and wounded—between 30,000 and 40,000 men in all, of which the far greater portion belonged to the allies—this has been reckoned the greatest and the bloodiest battle of the eighteenth century. Villars himself was severely wounded. In consequence of this victory, the allies obtained possession of Mons.
On the eastern frontier of France the Imperialists, under the Elector of Hanover, had formed the design of penetrating into Burgundy, where they were to be joined by the Duke of Savoy. But the Count de Mercy, with a chosen body of German troops, having penetrated into Haute Alsace, was defeated at Rumersheim (August 26th), and an end was thus put to the plan of the campaign. Nothing of much importance was done in Spain.
This year, Pope Clement XI, though friendly to the cause of Louis XIV and Philip V, was compelled to recognize Charles III as King of Spain. Clement had long complained in vain of the garrisons established by the Imperialists in the States of the Church, and of the exorbitant contributions which they levied, as well as of the acts of sovereignty exercised by Joseph in the Duchies of Parma and Piacenza; and in July, 1708, he had published a bull in which he threatened the Emperor with his temporal as well as spiritual weapons. In pursuance of these threats, Clement took measures for levying an army of 25,000 men; but on the approach of General Daun, he adopted more moderate counsels. He agreed to reduce his army to 5,000 men, and to permit the Imperialists free passage through the States of the Church, January 15th, 1709. In some secret articles he promised to recognize Charles III as King of Spain, and to invest him with the crown of both Sicilies. The questions respecting Parma, Piacenza, and Comacchio were to be settled in private conferences. A formal brief of recognition was eventually issued (June 26th). But this violence towards the Pope was prejudicial to Austrian interests in Spain, since it gave the French party a handle to represent Charles to the zealous Spaniards as a favourer of heretical principles, and to confirm the insinuation, already made through his alliance with Protestant Powers, that it was intended to place a heretic on the throne of the Catholic Kings.
A treaty was also concluded this year (October 29th) at the Hague between Great Britain and the States-General, by which the States engaged to guarantee the Protestant succession in England in favour of the House of Hanover; while Queen Anne, on her side, promised to procure for the Dutch an adequate barrier on the side of the Netherlands, consisting of the towns of Fumes, Nieuport, Ypres, Menin, Lille,Tournai, Conde, Valenciennes, Maubeuge, Charleroi, Namur, Halle, Damme,Dendermond, and the citadel of Ghent. Several of these places were not yet taken.
1710.—In the spring of the year Louis renewed at Gertruydenberg the conference for a peace, and in addition to his former proposals he now offered the allies a subsidy of a million livres a month against his grandson Philip V, in case the latter should refuse to content himself with Sicily and Sardinia. It was, however, a suspicious circumstance that at this very time Louis bestowed on the infant son of the Duke of Burgundy the title of Duke of Anjou, which belonged to Philip V in case of his renouncing the throne of Spain. The allies, who were determined on maintaining the war, required that Louis should himself expel his grandson from Spain without any assistance, except, perhaps, from their armies in Catalonia and Portugal. This outrageous proposition at once put an end to the conference.
There was no general engagement this year in Flanders, where the allies captured Douai, Bethune, St. Venant, and Aire, thus encroaching more and more on the French frontier. On the Rhine the armies contented themselves with observing each other; and a projected invasion of Dauphiné and Languedoc, from Savoy and the sea, proved a complete failure. The chief operations were in Spain, and were at first favourable to the allies. Stahremberg and Stanhope, by their victories at Almenara and Saragossa, were again enabled to penetrate to Madrid; while Philip V and his Court, and a great part of the population of the capital, retired to Valladolid. Charles III entered Madrid for the first time towards the end of September, but was received by the inhabitants with a sullen silence, which caused him immediately to leave it for a villa in the neighborhood. The arrival of Vendome in Spain, who reorganized Philip’s forces, and the advance of the Duke of Noailles to Perpignan, induced the allies to evacuate Madrid in November. Charles III hastened to rejoin his consort at Barcelona. General Stanhope, with the rear-guard of the allies, composed of between 5,000 and 6,000 British troops, was overtaken by Philip and Vendome at the little town of Brihuega(December 8th); where, being overpowered by superior numbers, and having exhausted all their ammunition, they were, after a brave and prolonged defence, compelled to surrender. Next day, Stahremberg, who was marching to Stanhope’s relief, but too slowly, was defeated by Philip and Vendome at Villa Viciosa, and compelled to hasten his retreat to Barcelona, where he arrived with only 7,000 men. These events were decisive of the fate of Spain. The Duke of Noailles having invaded Catalonia, Charles found his Spanish possessions reduced to Barcelona and Tarragona.
The work begun by Villars on defence positions during the summer of 1710 had been completed during the winter, and when Marlborough took the field in the spring he was confronted by a formidable system of field fortifications stretching across Northern France from the English Channel to the Meuse. This 150-mile barrier was based on a succession of rivers (the Canche, Gy, Scarpe, Sensée, Scheldt, Sambre and Meuse), a number of these having been dammed to inundate the banks. A series of elaborate earthworks protected the only part (about 15 miles) not covered by water or marsh, and the whole was considerably strengthened by the presence of a number of fortresses either in or close to the lines. These included the strongholds of Montreuil, Arras, Bouchain, Valenciennes, Maubeuge, Charleroi and Namur, the last forming the eastern anchor of the system; at the western end the Calais-St. Omer group of fortresses projected well forward to threaten the communications of any hostile effort against the centre. To Villars it seemed impossible that an invading army, even Marlborough’s, could advance beyond this position.
1711.—The war was now to take an unexpected turn through some unforeseen occurrences. In the course of 1710 that famous change of administration had taken place in England by which the Whigs were supplanted by the Tories. The influence of Marlborough and Godolphin gave place to that of Harley and St. John; the new ministry were inclined to peace, and were supported by the nation; for the people were weary of the war of which they bore the chief burden. While the English nation were in this temper, the death of the Emperor Joseph I, who died April 17th, 1711, at the age of thirty-two, changed the whole character of the War of the Spanish Succession. As Joseph left no male heirs, the hereditary dominions of the House of Austria devolved to his brother, the Archduke Charles; and though that prince had not been elected King of the Romans, and had therefore to become a candidate for the Imperial crown, yet there could be little doubt that he would obtain that dignity. Hence, if Charles should also become Sovereign of Spain and the Indies, the vast empire of Charles V would be again united in one person; and that very evil of an almost universal monarchy would be established, the prevention of which had been one of the chief reasons of the Whig opposition to Philip V.
The English ministry had already made advances to the French King before the death of the Emperor, and Louis had expressed his willingness to enter into a separate negotiation with them. The terms proposed by the English Cabinet were: security that the crowns of France and Spain should never be united on the same head (a tacit acknowledgment of Philip V); barriers for Holland and the Empire; the restitution of the conquests made from the Duke of Savoy and others; and a vague stipulation for “the satisfaction of all the allies”. As regarded the particular interests of Great Britain, it was required that Louis should recognize Queen Anne and the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover, and dismiss the Pretender from France; that the fortifications of Dunkirk should be razed; that Gibraltar, Minorca, and St. Christopher’s should be ceded to England, and that the privilege of the Asiento, that is, the monopoly of the slave-trade, should also be transferred to her; that the English should be placed on the footing of the most favoured nations in their trade with Spain; and that France should cede Newfoundland and Hudson’s Bay and Straits; each country otherwise retaining its possessions in North America. These articles were signed as the preliminaries of a peace between France and England by Menager, Louis’s envoy to London, October 8th.
Meanwhile the war still continued. Marlborough, though he had political influence at home, retained the command of the army in Flanders; but his only exploit in this campaign was the capture of the little town of Bouchain (September 12th). The war was almost equally featureless in other quarters. In Spain, Philip V. took Gerona andBalaguer; in France, Marshal Berwick again prevented the Duke of Savoy from penetrating into Dauphiné In Germany, Eugene, who had been recalled from the Netherlands to command the united army of Austria and the Empire, contented himself with covering the Electoral Diet which had assembled to choose an Emperor; nor was the Marquis d’Harcourt, the French commander, disposed to molest an assembly whose purpose would be of essential service to the actual policy of France. After an interregnum of half a year, during which the affairs of the Empire had been conducted by the Elector Palatine and the Elector of Saxony, as Imperial Vicars for South and North Germany, the Archduke Charles was unanimously chosen King of the Romans, and consequently “Emperor Elect,” by the Electoral College (October 12th); except that the Electors of Bavaria and Cologne, being under the ban of the Empire, had not been summoned to that assembly, and entered a solemn protest against its proceedings. Charles, who had embarked for Italy and Germany towards the end of September, leaving his consort at Barcelona as Regent, and as a pledge for his return, received the German crown at Frankfurt, December 22nd, with the title of Charles VI.
The news of preliminaries having been signed between France and England had been received with dismay and dissatisfaction at Vienna, and the Hague; and indeed the conduct of the new Tory ministry in thus separating from their allies can hardly be defended, although Great Britain had just reason to complain that neither the Emperor nor the States-General had borne their fair share in a war conducted chiefly for their benefit. The object of the Tories was to end the war as soon as possible, in order that they should have time to settle the succession question before the death of Anne. The envoys at London of the Emperor, the States-General, and the Elector of Hanover, the last of whom was embittered against Louis as the protector of his rival, the Pretender, strained every nerve to overthrow the new ministry and defeat the peace; but though Prince Eugene came in person to support their representations, their efforts served only to confirm the English Court in its new policy. The majority of the House of Lords, which was adverse to the ministry, was swamped by the creation of twelve new peers; and Marlborough, besides being dismissed from all his offices, was accused of peculation. He was succeeded as Commander-in-chief by the Duke of Ormond.
There was now no alternative but to agree to a conference for a general peace, which was opened at Utrecht, January 29th, 1712. Three French plenipotentiaries, the Marshal d’Huxelles, the Abbé de Polignac, and Menager, who had settled the preliminaries at London, had the difficult task of replying to eighty ministers of the allies; but they were supported by the English plenipotentiaries, the Bishop of Bristol, and Earl Strafford. It had been a principle of the Grand Alliance that the allies should treat jointly for a peace, which the ministers of the Allied Powers interpreted to mean, all together, in one act or treaty. The French, however, insisted that it merely meant at one and the same time, but by separate acts or treaties; and this interpretation being approved by the English envoys, all general conferences ceased, and the ministers of the various States assembled in private to deliberate on their proceedings. The French propositions were in the main conformable to the preliminaries already mentioned as signed at London: viz., the recognition of Queen Anne and the Protestant succession in England; a barrier for Holland; the cession of Landau to the Empire, and of the twoSicilies, the Spanish Netherlands, and the Milanese to the House of Austria; the re-establishment of the Electors of Bavaria and Cologne, and the transfer of the Island of Sardinia to the former as compensation for the Upper Palatinate; finally, Louis engaged to agree to any measures which might be deemed requisite to prevent the union of the crowns of France and Spain. To these propositions the allies, with the exception of England, replied only by counter-propositions still more extravagant than those they had already made. The Emperor demanded to be recognized as universal heir of the dominions of Charles II; the Empire insisted on the restoration of Alsace, the three bishoprics, and Franche-Comté; the States-General required as a barrier all the towns of the Netherlands which France had acquired by the treaties of Aix-la-Chapelle and Nimeguen, except St. Omer and Cambrai; even the Duke of Savoy demanded an accession of territory on the side of Dauphiné and the principality of Monaco. These extravagant demands only further stimulated Louis to make a separate peace with England; but some fatal events which had taken place in France tended to protract the negotiations even between these two countries.
The Dauphin had died in April, 1711, and was succeeded in that title, as heir of the French monarchy, by his son, the Duke of Burgundy, the elder brother of Philip V of Spain.
The Duke of Burgundy had been the pupil of Fenelon—the Telemachus for whom the precepts of Mentor had been elaborated—and his talents and virtues had caused him to be regarded, both by his grandfather and the French nation, with joy and hope as the future king of France. Unfortunately, however, in February, 1712, he died of a fever which had carried off, a few days before, his wife, Mary Adelaide of Savoy. Nor was this the whole of the misfortunes of the royal House of France. The two children of the Dauphin were seized with the same disorder which had proved fatal to their parents; the elder, who bore the title of Duke of Brittany, expired in a few days; the younger, the Duke of Anjou, survived indeed the crisis of the malady, but was left in a weak condition. This infant of two years was, therefore, now the only life between Philip V and the crown of France; and the English Cabinet, naturally desirous of fresh guarantees against its union with that of Spain, demanded that Philip should cede his eventual rights to his younger brother, the Duke of Bern. Louis objected that such a renunciation was contrary to the fundamental laws of France; nevertheless the English Cabinet stated that it should be satisfied with such a renunciation, on the ground that it would be regarded in England as valid, and that, at all events, the claims of the prince, in whose favour the renunciation was made, could be justly supported by the parties to the convention. The negotiations on this subject, which were confined to the English, French, and Spanish Cabinets, were protracted several months. Philip at length consented to abandon the country of his birth for that of his adoption. In November, 1712, in presence of the Cortes assembled at Madrid, and of Lord Lexington, the English ambassador, he publicly renounced the rights and pretensions of himself and his posterity to the crown of France, to which the Duke of Berri was named next in succession after the Duke of Anjou; and in default of male heirs, the Duke of Orleans, Philip’s uncle, the Duke of Bourbon, his cousin; and the remaining French princes in their order. The Dukes of Berri and Orleans also renounced in turn their claims to the Spanish monarchy; the succession to which, in default of heirs of Philip V, was assured to the House of Savoy, as descended from Catharine, sister of Philip II. Philip’s renunciation was registered by the Parliament of Paris, and Louis cancelled the letters patent by which he had reserved to Philip his eventual claim to the French throne.
Battle of Denain, by Jean Alaux. In Napoleon’s words, ″Denain saved France”
Louis XIV had acceded to these terms several months before, upon the English ministry showing a resolution to adopt vigorous measures. Meanwhile the allied armies had taken the field as usual in May; but Ormond had declined all active co-operation with Eugene; and in June, on receipt of intelligence that Louis had agreed to the proposed terms, he announced to the Germans in the pay of England an armistice of four months with France. On July 17th Ormond and the English troops separated from the allies; and about the same time a body of 5,000 English took possession of Dunkirk as the price of the truce and a pledge of the fulfillment of the promises made by the French King. Eugene, left to contend alone against Marshal Villars, soon felt the disastrous consequences of the defection of his allies. On July 24th he was defeated by Villars at Denain, who pursued this success by the recapture of Douai, Le Quesnoi, andBouchain. In other quarters the war this year was wholly unimportant.
The Barrier Treaty of 1713
The defeat of the allies at Denain greatly modified the views of the Dutch; while Louis felt the advantage of his position and insisted on a considerable modification of the barrier which they demanded. The English Cabinet persuaded the States-General to accept most of these alterations; and on January 29th, 1713, a new Barrier Treaty was signed between the two Maritime Powers. The places destined to serve as a barrier were now reduced to Furnes, the fort of Knocque, Ypres, Menin, Tournai, Mons, Charleroi, the citadel of Ghent, and some fortresses in the neighborhood of that city and Bruges; and Great Britain engaged to procure for the Dutch the right of garrison in them from the future Sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands. There was now nothing to hinder a peace between England, France, and Holland; but it was delayed awhile in order that all the belligerents should, if possible, sign together. The Emperor, who complained that England had betrayed him, still refused to join in the negotiations at Utrecht. He was desirous, however, of effecting a convention for the evacuation of Catalonia, where his army was compromised by the withdrawal of the English forces in the autumn, and subsequently of the Portuguese; whose king, now John V, had signed a truce at Utrecht, November 7th. France and England agreed to such a convention, the neutrality of Italy being also guaranteed, without which peace would have been impracticable; since, if Savoy should be attacked by the Emperor, the Maritime Powers were bound to come to the Duke’s support. An amnesty was stipulated for the Catalans, and Queen Anne promised her good offices for the maintenance of their ancient privileges, or Fueros, a promise, however, which was shamefully neglected. Charles VI having by this convention recovered his troops and his wife, who was still holding her Court at Barcelona, was only the more obstinate in rejecting the peace. The Catalans refused to accept the amnesty without the confirmation of their Fueros, and it became necessary to reduce them by arms. Barcelona was not captured by Marshal Berwick till September 12th, 1714, after a defence of almost unparalleled heroism.
England had fixed April 11th, 1713, as the day by which the allies were to accept the offers of France; after which term neither of those countries was to be bound by them. Count Zinzendorf, the Imperial minister, having rejected a paper containing the French proposals handed to him by the British plenipotentiaries, the latter accordingly signed a treaty with France; and on the same day separate treaties were also signed with that Power by the ministers of the States-General, Prussia, Portugal, and Savoy.
The principal articles of the treaty between France and Great Britain were conformable to those already mentioned in the negotiations between the two countries; viz., the recognition by France of the Hanoverian succession in England, the abandonment of the Stuarts, the acknowledgment of the various renunciations of the French and Spanish Crowns, as before stated, the destruction of the fort and fortifications of Dunkirk, the cession to England of Acadia (Nova Scotia), Hudson’s Bay and Straits, Newfoundland, and St. Kitts. On the same day a treaty of commerce was concluded between France and England, by which the subjects of either Power were placed on the footing of the most favoured nations.
The treaty between France and Portugal related only to colonial possessions, and some cessions were made in favour of Portugal.
By the treaty with Prussia, Louis recognized the Elector of Brandenburg as King of Prussia, consented to give him the title of “Majesty”, ceded to him by virtue of a power from the King of Spain, the Spanish portion of Gelderland, except Venloo, andRuremonde, but on condition that the Catholic religion should be upheld; assigned to him, as representative of the House of Chalons, amalgamated with that of Orange, the sovereignty of Neufchatel and Valengin, in Switzerland, vacant by the death of the Duchess of Nemours, without children, in 1707; when the States of Neufchatel had decided in favour of the King of Prussia’s claims. Frederick William, on his side, renounced his pretensions to the principality of Orange and the lands and lordships belonging to it. He was the only German prince who treated separately and independently in these conferences, with Savoy.
The treaty between Louis XIV and Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, restored to the latter Savoy and Nice, and ceded to him Exilles, Fenestrelle, and Chateau Dauphin. The summit, or water-shed, of the Alps, was henceforth to be the boundary between France and Piedmont, and the plateau of those mountains was to be divided. Sicily, with the title of King, was guaranteed to the Duke; and he and his posterity were recognized as the legitimate heirs of the Spanish monarchy in default of heirs of Philip V. The cessions made to the Duke by the Emperor Leopold in the treaty of Turin (October, 1703) were confirmed.
The treaty between France and the States-General to the Dutch all that part of the Spanish Netherlands still held by the French, which the States were to hand over to Austria so soon as a barrier should have been arranged; and a portion of the French Netherlands was also ceded in like manner through the States to Austria. The States, on their part, agreed to restore certain places to France, as Lille, Orchies, Aire, Bethune, etc. A commercial treaty was also concluded between the two countries.
Spain could not take part in the general pacification till Philip V had been recognized, and the Spanish ministers therefore did not appear at Utrecht till the treaties had been signed by the other Powers. The peace between Spain and Great Britain was retarded by the difficulties raised by Philip V respecting the renunciation of Sicily; but these having been at length removed, a treaty was signed between those Powers, July 13th, 1713. The principal articles were the recognition by Spain of the Hanoverian succession, the cession of Gibraltar and Minorca to England, but on condition that no Moors nor Jews should establish themselves in either, and the assignment of the Asiento to an English company for a period of thirty years from May 1st, 1713. In a previous assignment of this privilege by Philip V to a French company in 1701, a fourth part of the profits of this trade had been reserved for the Kings of France and Spain, and similar shares were now assigned to the sovereigns of Spain and England. The number of negroes to be imported yearly into Spanish America was fixed, as before, at 4,800. At the intercession of the Queen of England, the Catalans were to have an amnesty, and all the privileges enjoyed by Castilians: a virtual abolition of their Fueros, or ancient and peculiar liberties.
By the treaty with the Duke of Savoy, August 13th, 1713, Spain ceded Sicily to that House as a kingdom, and Victor Amadeus II was crowned at Palermo, November 14th, 1713; but both the Pope and the Emperor refused to recognize him. Subsequently, by the Treaty of Quadruple Alliance, 1718, the Duke was forced to exchange Sicily for Sardinia.
The peace between Spain and the States-General was delayed till June 26th, 1714, chiefly through the extravagant ambition of the Princess des Ursins, who wished to persuade Philip V to erect some part of the Spanish Netherlands into an independent sovereignty in her favour, to which both the Dutch and the Emperor were opposed. The treaty between Spain and the United Netherlands relates chiefly to colonies and commerce.
The last treaty signed at Utrecht was that between Spain and Portugal (February, 1715), which had been delayed by the mutual animosity of the two nations. Everything taken during the war was reciprocally restored, so that the limits of the two kingdoms remained the same as before. Spain ceded the colony of St. Sacrament, on the north bank of the river La Plata.
All these treaties together form the Peace of Utrecht. As it consisted of so many particular conventions, which might be violated without the parties to them being in a condition to claim the help of their former allies, the Grand Alliance was consequently dissolved, and the Emperor, who was the centre of it, was left without support. A delay, till June 1st, 1713, was accorded to him to accede to the peace; but he could not yet digest the terms offered to him by France, and especially the proposal to give Sardinia to the Elector of Bavaria, by way of compensation for the Upper Palatinate, which had been restored to the Elector Palatine. He therefore resolved to continue the war, in the hope that the talents of Prince Eugene might procure him a victory, and enable him to treat on better terms. With this view he assembled all his forces on the Rhine; but the campaign turned out very much to his disadvantage. Eugene could not prevent Villars from taking Landau (August), and subsequently Freiburg, the capital of the Breisgau(November). Charles VI now consented to treat. Eugene and Villars, so lately opposed in the field, met at Rastadt for that purpose; and their negotiations proceeded much more rapidly than those of professional diplomatists. The Peace of Rastadt, signed March 7th, 1714, was the last service rendered by Villars to Louis XIV, who told him that he had crowned all his laurels with that olive branch. The definitive treaty, however, was not signed till September 7th, at Baden, in Switzerland. The treaty was formed on the basis of that of Ryswick, and no regard was paid to the protests of the German States against the fourth clause of that treaty, so prejudicial to the interests of Protestantism. The Pope had exhorted Louis not to abrogate the clause; but it has been only lately known that Clement was incited to this step by the Court of Vienna. All places on the right bank of the Rhine were restored to the Empire; but Landau and its dependencies were ceded to France. The House of Austria was allowed to take possession of the Spanish Netherlands, according to the stipulations in the Treaties of Utrecht; that is, reserving a barrier for the Dutch, and also Upper Gelderland, which had been ceded to Prussia. Charles VI was permitted to retain possession of all the places he occupied in Italy; as the Kingdom of Naples, the Duchy of Milan, Sardinia, and the fortresses on the Tuscan coast. The Electors of Bavaria and Cologne were reinstated in their dominions and dignities; but the Emperor preferred to restore the Upper Palatinate to the former, rather than give him the Island of Sardinia. This island was promised to the Elector Palatine by way of compensation for the Upper Palatinate; but the promise was never performed. Such was the treaty which the House of Austria, through its stubborn obstinacy, was at length compelled to accept, instead of the infinitely more advantageous terms offered by Louis XIV at the Hague andGertruydenberg!
The ministers of the Emperor and the States-General met at Antwerp to carry out the stipulations respecting the Dutch barrier, under the mediation of George I, who had now ascended the throne of England; and the Third Barrier Treaty was signed November 15th, 1715. It was agreed that after the surrender of the Spanish Netherlands to the Emperor, a body of troops should be maintained in them, of which three-fifths were to be provided by the Emperor, and two-fifths by the Dutch. Dutch garrisons were to be placed in Namur, Tournai, Menin, Furnes, Warneton, Ypres, and the fort ofKnocque, and a mixed garrison of Spaniards and Dutch in Dendermond; the Dutch commandants taking an oath to hold these places for the House of Austria. The Emperor ceded Venloo and some other places, and especially such as were necessary for inundating the country in time of war. England guaranteed the treaty, and engaged to support it by arms. The Dutch delivered, in February, 1716, to the Emperor the Spanish Netherlands, as possessed by Charles II; but not till 1719 the places ceded by France.
Thus was at length terminated the war of the Spanish Succession, the greatest which had agitated Europe since the Crusades. Its effect was to modify considerably the situation of the different European States. Spain herself was apparently the greatest loser, having been deprived of her dominions in the Low Countries and Italy, and compelled to allow England a settlement in one of her islands, and even on her very soil. But, on the other hand, she retained her American possessions; and the loss of her outlying territories in Italy and the Netherlands strengthened her. From this period she began slowly to revive: and the decrease in her population, which had been gradually going on since the time of Charles V, was now arrested. Austria, though compelled to renounce the hope of reaping the whole Spanish Succession, acquired the greater part of those territories of which Spain was deprived; yet as these acquisitions lay not contiguous to her, it may be doubted whether they were not rather a cause of weakness than of strength, by increasing her danger in a greater ratio than they multiplied her resources. France lost a portion of the frontier which she had formerly acquired, while the fear with which she had inspired the different States, drove them to unite themselves more closely with Austria. But these losses were nothing in comparison with her internal ills—the disorder of her finances and the exhaustion of her population. After the Peace of Utrecht, France, though still one of the principal elements of the European system, required a long period of rest before she could take an active part in European politics. In the great struggle with the Habsburgs, Louis XIV had been successful. He had placed his grandson on the throne of Spain, and had confined the Habsburgs to Germany. The influence and reputation of England, were much increased by the results of the war, in which she had proved herself able to counterbalance the power of France and Spain. Holland, on the other hand, gained nothing besides her barrier, and from this time her commerce began to fall into the hands of the English. Death of Neither Louis XIV nor Queen Anne long survived the Queen Peace of Utrecht. Anne died on August 1st, 1714. She was succeeded by the Elector of Hanover, with the title of George I, a prince whose chief political tenet was, like that of his predecessor, William III, hatred of Louis XIV. One of his first acts was to dismiss the Tory Ministry, whom he regarded with abhorrence, as the advisers of the Peace of Utrecht. The Whigs were reinstated in office, and Marlborough, who at this very time was intriguing with the Pretender, was again made Captain-General and Master of the Ordnance.
Louis XIV survived the English Queen thirteen months; but it would have been better for his fame if he had preceded her to the tomb. He was now sunk in bigotry and intolerance. Since the death of his confessor, Father la Chaise, in 1709, Louis hadintrusted the keeping of his conscience to Father le Tellier, a Jesuit, whose religion was tinctured with pride and malignancy, instead of the Christian virtues of humbleness and charity. One of the first acts of Le Tellier was to procure the destruction of the celebrated convent of Port Royal, the refuge of the Jansenists, the enemies of his Society (November, 1709). He also obtained from Pope Clement XI the celebrated bullUnigenitus (September, 1713), by which were condemned 101 propositions extracted from the Reflexions Morales sur le Nouveau Testament, an esteemed work byQuesnel, now the head of the Jansenists—a book which had received the approbation of Father la Chaise, and even of Clement himself. It would have been fortunate, however, if Le Tellier had confined himself only to attacking speculative doctrines. He persuaded the King to revive the intolerant spirit which had prompted the repeal of the Edict of Nantes, and to invade the privilege of conscience and the sanctuary of domestic life. In 1712 a royal ordinance was published prohibiting physicians fromsuccouring, after the third day, patients labouring under dangerous maladies, unless they could produce from an ecclesiastic a certificate of confession! This atrocious edict was followed, in 1715, by another, which denied those who died without receiving the sacraments the rites of sepulture.
Yet the political conduct of this royal zealot was marked in his last years by the grossest perfidy. Although he literally fulfilled his engagement to fill up the port of Dunkirk, he endeavored to evade the spirit of it by causing to be made between that place and Mardyck a huge canal, a league in length, and capable of sheltering vessels of 80 guns. This was done on the pretence of providing an outlet for some canals previously emptied by the sluices at Dunkirk, and it was only after some threateningremonstrances from the English Government that the undertaking was suspended. Again, by the Peace of Utrecht Louis had solemnly recognized the succession of the House of Hanover in England, and had promised to withdraw his protection from the Stuarts; yet he secretly encouraged the pretended James III’s ill-judged and abortive expedition to Scotland in 1715, by procuring for him a vessel, arms for 10,000 men, and a loan from Philip V of 1,200,000 francs, which he was not able to advance out of his own funds. If these are bad specimens of Louis’s political honesty, his legitimatization of his children by Madame de Montespan, his endowing them with the rights of princes of the blood, and making them capable of succeeding to the crown, are no less open to criticism.
It is not improbable that Louis’s efforts in favour of the Pretender might have again precipitated France into a war with England had the King’s life been prolonged. But in August, 1715, he was seized with a slow fever, which put an end to his life, September 1st. In the last days of his existence this mighty King was abandoned by all his family and courtiers, and died in the presence only of priests, physicians, and attendants. He had attained the age of seventy-seven years, during seventy-two of which he had sat upon the throne, the longest reign on record. He died with constancy and resignation, and the last days of his life show him to more advantage as a man than the season of his greatest glory and prosperity. It had been well for his people had the aged monarch been impressed at an earlier period of his reign with those words of counsel which he addressed on his deathbed to the youthful Dauphin. “My child”, said he, “you will soon be the sovereign of a great kingdom. Do not forget your obligations to God; remember that it is to Him you owe all that you are. Endeavour to live at peace with your neighbors; do not imitate me in my fondness for war, nor in the exorbitant expenditure which I have incurred. Take counsel in all your actions. Endeavour to relieve the people at the earliest possible moment, and thus to accomplish what, unfortunately, I am unable to do myself”.
These words, which were afterwards inscribed on the bed of Louis XV by order of Marshal Villeroi, are, in fact, a condemnation by Louis himself of his whole reign. In that retrospect of conscience, he denounces his constant wars, his profligate expenditure, his uncontrollable self-will, and regrets that no time was left him to repair the misfortunes which they had produced. This condemnatory review was confirmed by the French people. The day of his funeral was a day of rejoicing and holiday; the procession was greeted with laughter and songs by the carousing populace, who added another article of reproach, over which the royal conscience had slumbered. Some proposed to use the funeral torches to set fire to the houses of the Jesuits; but Louis had expired without giving the slightest indication that the course which he had pursued in religious matters gave him any compunction. In spite, however, of his defects, Louis XIV must be allowed in many respects to have possessed the qualities of a great sovereign. He was generous and munificent; in grace, affability, and dignity of manner, in all that goes to constitute the outward semblance and bearing of a king, he was unrivalled; and all his projects, however unjust and impolitic, were marked by grandeur of conception, and ability and perseverance in their execution. And now that the misery inflicted by his reign has been forgotten, and only the French, its glory and conquests are remembered, it is probable that the image of Louis XIV will continue to occupy a conspicuous niche in the national Pantheon of the French, a nation ever ready to pardon the faults of those who have extended their boundaries, upheld their military reputation, and promoted the fame of their literature and art.