War of Spanish Succession

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The War of Spanish Succession was an eleven year war that began in 1701. The war came about as a controversy as to who should next occupy the Spanish throne. The last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, Charles II, was dying, but he did not have any children. As a result, there was no solid heir to the throne.

In 1700 Louis XIV, the powerful king of France, enouraged Charles II to designate Louis' grandson, Duke Philip of Anjou, as his heir and successor to the throne of Spain. Louis XIV wanted to bring about the unification of Spain and France. The other major powers, and many of the smaller powers as well, did not agree to this decision. They did not want to disrupt the delicate balance of powers in Europe. After King Charles II had died, the other European powers determined that, in the interest of stablity, Archduke Charles of Austria should become ruler of the Spanish kingdom.

Archduke Charles was one of Charles II's cousins, and also the brother of King Joseph I of Austria, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The parties could not resolve this dispute, so a war that came to be known as the War of Spanish Succession broke out. Battles erupted between France, Spain, Italy, the German States, and the Low Countries that lasted for about eleven years. Duc de Villars and the Duke of Berwick for France, the Duke of Marlborough for England, and Prince Eugene of Savoy for the Austrians were the most notable generals of the war. The French were on the losing side when hostilites were suddenly halted. News spread that Joseph I of Austria had died, therefore crowning Archduke Charles heir of the Austrian throne. The powers against France then realized that the unification of Austria and...