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Nine Years War

Nine Years War, 1689–97. Also known as ‘ King William's War’ or the ‘War of the English Succession’. William of Orange accepted England's throne in 1688 in the hope that the nation's superior sea power and financial strength could be used in his struggle against Louis XIV's ambitions in the Netherlands and Germany. The French king's support for the exiled James II in Ireland and his harassment of the English fleet early in 1689 made war inevitable, and in May William formed a Grand Alliance which included England, the United Provinces, and the Empire. What was initially envisaged as a short struggle to compel French recognition of the English succession developed into a prolonged conflict of unprecedented scale and financial commitment. In Ireland James's Franco-Irish army was soon defeated at the Boyne in July 1690 and the rebels finally suppressed in 1691. But England's naval mastery of the English Channel was initially weakened by the French fleet and several times invasion was threatened until in May 1692 the allies overwhelmed the French off La Hogue. Meanwhile, William was enmeshed in a desperate war in the Netherlands. In the slow, yearly grind of siege warfare he suffered a series of costly defeats before capturing the key fortress town of Namur in 1695, but his only real achievement was in preventing the French from completely overrunning Flanders. The war ended in September 1697 when the exhausted protagonists signed the treaty of Ryswick.

Andrew Hanham

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Grand Alliance, War of the

War of the Grand Alliance, 1688–97, war between France and a coalition of European powers, known as the League of Augsburg (and, after 1689, as the Grand Alliance). Louis XIV of France took advantage of the absence of Emperor Leopold I on a campaign against the Turks and of the promised support of James II of England to invade the empire and devastate (1689) the Palatinate. The revolution in England overthrew James, and William, prince of Orange, became William III of England (1688–89). In an attempt to keep William from leading troops to the Continent, Louis supported a counterrevolution in Ireland but was frustrated at the battle of the Boyne (1690). The naval war, of which the first major battle was the French victory at Beachy Head (1690), was practically ended by the English victory of La Hogue (1692). On land, however, Louis and Vauban took Namur (1692); Marshal Luxembourg was victorious at Fleurus (1690) over the Dutch and at Steenkerke (1692) and Neerwinden (1693) over William III; and the duke of Savoy was defeated at Marsaglia by Catinat (1693), while another French army entered Catalonia. The exhaustion of the belligerents and the defection of Savoy from the Grand Alliance (1696) finally led to the Treaty of Ryswick. This war was known on the American continent as King William's War (see French and Indian Wars).

See G. N. Clark, The Dutch Alliance and the War against French Trade, 1688–97 (1923, repr. 1971).

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