imperial wars of the 18 th century


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  • IMPERIAL WARSE. TREATY OF RYSWICK (1697):. Louis recognized William III as king of England, France kept Strasbourg and Louis' ''reunion'' acquisitions along the Franco-German border, but gave up most of his post-l679 conquests. The question of the succession to the Spanish throne remained a major issue in European affairs, however and led directly to the War of the Spanish Succession.


  • IMPERIAL WARSII. WAR OF THE SPANISH SUCCESSION (1701-1714): Last, longest, and bloodiest of the wars of King LouisA. CAUSES1. Charles II of Spain: the last Spanish Habsburg king, died in 1700 without an uncontested heir 2. Louis XIV and William III had drawn up treaties (1698, 1700) dividing the inheritance of the sickly Charles between the leading claimants, the French Bourbons and the Austrian Habsburgs. However the dying king bequeathed all his territories to Philippe, duc d'Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV. If Philippe declined the inheritance, it would go to the Austrian archduke Charles (later Emperor Charles VI), second son of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I.

  • IMPERIAL WARS3. Louis accepted the inheritance for his grandson, who became Philip V of Spain, breaking the partition agreement. By subsequently coordinating the military, commercial, and political policies of Spain and France, Louis upset the European power balance. As a result, an anti-French alliance was formed.

    B. COMBATANTS: France, Spain, and Bavaria faced a Grand Alliance of the Austrian. Habsburgs, most German princes, the United Provinces, Britain, and, after 1703, former French allies Portugal and Savoy.

  • IMPERIAL WARSC. WAR ON THE CONTINENT: French victories in southwest Germany offset by Britain's seizure of Gibraltar and by the allied conquest of Bavaria. France lost the Spanish Netherlands and all of Italy. Franco-Spanish success was limited to Spain. Louis XIV faced with defeats a financial crisis, a crippling winter, and the revolt of the Camisards (Huguenots of the Cevennes Mountains), offered to renounce the Spanish inheritance but fought on when Anglo-Dutch diplomats insisted that he drive his grandson from Spain. Fighting continued until political events brought the war to an end. In Britain, the Whig party was replaced by the pro-peace Tories. The deaths of all but two direct descendants of Louis XIV (Philip V of Spain and the future Louis XV of France) and of Emperor Leopold and his first son Joseph I (leaving Emperor Charles VI as sole Austrian Habsburg) forced a compromise settlement of the Spanish succession since none of the leading European powers would tolerate a union of Austrian and Spanish domains.

  • IMPERIAL WARSD. WAR IN THE AMERICAS: Called Queen Anne's War, it consisted of French & Indian raids against New England, Spanish raids on Carolina settlements. The English captured Acadia and renamed it Nova Scotia. English privateer Edward Teach would turn to piracy after the war and terrorize the coastal settlements of Virginia and the Carolinas as Blackbeard until he was finally killed on Nov. 22, 1718 during an engagement with a force sent from Virginia.

  • IMPERIAL WARSE. PEACE OF UTRECHT (17l3-14): Awarded Spain and its colonies to Bourbon Philip v, keeping France separate but without significant territorial losses. Britain emerged as the great colonial, commercial, and naval power in the world, gaining Gibraltar, Minorca, Hudson Bay, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Saint Kitt's and the sole right to the slave trade with Spain's American colonies. Austria acquired the Spanish Netherlands Naples, Milan, and Sardinia. This new balance of power remained until the War of the Austrian Succession.

  • IMPERIAL WARSIII. WAR OF JENKINS EAR (1740-1744): Caused by commercial rivalry between Britain and Spain, named for the alleged mutilation of an English sea captain by the Spanish in 1739. Fighting took place in the Caribbean and in Georgia where James Oglethorpe led Carolinians and Georgians against Saint Augustine in 1740, but had to abandon the siege after several weeks. In 1742 he thwarted a Spanish invasion of Georgia, making the war in the south a standoff. This war would merge with the War of the Austrian Succession in 1744.

  • IMPERIAL WARSIV. WAR OF THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION (1744-1748)A. CAUSESUNDERLYING: Competition between Prussia and Austria in central Europe, long-standing differences between Austria and France and a worldwide struggle between England and France for superiority in overseas trade and colonial empire.IMMEDIATE: On Oct. 20: 1740, emperor Charles VI died without a male heir, and his lands passed to a daughter, Maria Theresa, as provided in the Pragmatic Sanction. Two months later, Frederick II of Prussia invaded Silesia, a province bordering Bohemia.

  • IMPERIAL WARSB. COMBATANTS: Prussia, Bavaria, Spain, France vs. Austria, GreatBritain, Netherlands.C. WAR of THE CONTINENT: Initial Prussian victories did not force Maria Theresa into surrender. She countered a Franco-Bavarian offensive by making a temporary truce with Prussia. Aided by subsidies from England and Holland she attacked her remaining enemies. Austrian successes brought Prussia back into the war in May 1742 and again in June 1744. Victories by Frederick II in 1745 compelled Maria Theresa to sign the Treaty of Dresden on Dec. 25, 1745, reaffirming Prussian control of Silesia. Fighting continued between the French and English.

  • IMPERIAL WARSD. WAR IN THE AMERICAS: Called King George's War, A New England army captured the French fortress of Louisbourg from which French sea raiders had preyed upon colonial shipping.E. TREATY OF AIX-LA-CHAPELLE (Oct- 18, 1748): Restored all the prewar territorial arrangements in western Europe and the colonial sphere (Louisbourg was returned to the French). In central Europe, however, Austria reluctantly recognized Frederick II's annexation of Silesia. The wealth and population of Silesia immediately elevated Prussia into the ranks of the great European powers. However, Austria's determination to recover Silesia was a chief cause of the second major European conflict, the SEVEN YEARS' WAR.

  • IMPERIAL WARSV. SEVEN YEARS' WAR (1756-1763): first of the imperial wars to begin in America and spread to Europe. It was an extension of the old disputes and antagonisms that had caused the War of the Austrian Succession. Prussia and Austria renewed their contest for possession of Silesia and for political dominance in central Europe. At the same time Britain and France continued their long struggle for naval and colonial supremacy.

  • IMPERIAL WARSA. FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR (1754-1763): Colonial rivalry erupted between the French and the English in the Ohio Valley. The French constructed Fort Duquesne and defeated a young George Washington at Fort Necessity in July of 1754. The British government in London, realizing that the colonies by themselves were unable to prevent the French advance into the Ohio Valley, sent a force of regulars under General Edward Braddock to uphold the British territorial claims.

  • IMPERIAL WARSIn July 1755, Braddock's army was disastrously defeated as it approached Fort Duquesne. With the majority of the Indians fighting on the side of the French, the English did not need any other subversive activity so they forcibly deported virtually the entire French peasant population of Nova Scotia (Acadia) to increase the security of that province. But it was not until May 1756, nearly two years after the outbreak of hostilities on the Virginia frontier, that Britain declared war on France.

  • IMPERIAL WARSWAR ON THE CONTINENT1. COMBATANTS: Britain and Prussia against Austria, France, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and (after 1762) Spain.2. BATTLES: Hostilities began on Aug. 29, 1756, when Frederick II of Prussia, anticipating an assault from Maria Theresa of Austria and Elizabeth of Russia, launched a surprise offensive. However he was not able to end the war quickly and found himself at a disadvantage against those allied against him while receiving little aid from the British who paid him financial subsidies and maintained an army in northwestern Germany to shield Hanover, a possession of the British king, from French attack. He suffered the worst defeat of his entire career against the Russians at Kunersdorf on Aug. 12, 1759. By the end of 1761 the Austrians had moved into Saxony and Silesia, and Russian troops held Prussian Pomerania

  • IMPERIAL WARS3. LUCKY BREAK: At this critical moment the Russian empress died (January 1762) and was succeeded by Peter III, one of Frederick's devoted admirers. Peter immediately withdrew from the war, and Austria, unable to defeat Prussia alone, was compelled to end the fighting in Germany.

  • IMPERIAL WARSC. WAR IN THE AMERICAS: Under effective generalship of the marquis de Montcalm, New France enjoyed victory after victory. But William Pitt (the Elder), Britain's new prime minister had adopted a policy of drastically increasing aid to the American colonies, and he was able to do so because the Royal Navy kept the sea-lanes open.

  • IMPERIAL WARSFrance, in contrast, found itself unable to maintain large-scale support of its colonies. As a result, by 1758, the period of French ascendancy was coming to an end. The British, employing increasing numbers of regulars, sometimes in conjunction with provincial troops, began gaining important victories. Winning a stunning victory against the French at Quebec on the Plains of Abraham, at the cost of the lives of both Montcalm and the British commander James Wolfe, the British completed the conquest of Canada with a successful offensive against Montreal. By the end of 1760, French resistance in North America had virtually ceased.