War of the Spanish Succession

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War of the Spanish Succession

War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1713), a conflict between France and Austria (Bourbons and Hapsburgs) for the Spanish throne. After the death of the childless Hapsburg monarch Charles II, the principal candidates for the Spanish throne were the Austrian archduke Charles and Philip of Anjou, the grandson of the French monarch Louis XIV. Both were direct descendants of Philip IV of Spain through the marriages of his daughters. On his deathbed, Charles II left the throne to Philip of Anjou, but the inheritance was disputable since Philip's grandmother, María Teresa, had renounced her rights to the Spanish throne when she married Louis XIV.

In May 1702, an Austrian, British, and Dutch alliance declared war on France and Spain. With a shortage of troops, arms, and supplies, Spain depended on France to support Philip's claim. Thus, the war on Spanish soil was fought chiefly by foreign troops. The war began with an unsuccessful allied attempt to seize Cádiz in August 1702. This was quickly followed by the destruction of the Franco-Spanish silver fleet in Vigo Bay, resulting in Spain's increased reliance on French shipping for the protection of the fleet system. Although trade between France and the Spanish colonies was officially prohibited, interloping trade thrived under the mask of French protection and during the war France benefited more from Spain's colonies than Spain did.

In 1703 Portugal joined the allies, thus giving England a strategic base for operations. Aided by rebels and insurgents, the allies took Valencia and Catalonia in 1705 and entered Madrid in 1706. However, a decisive Franco-Spanish victory at Almansa in 1707 marked an important turning point in the war. The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) acknowledged Philip V as king of Spain and the Indies, gave Charles (now emperor) the Spanish Netherlands and possessions in Italy (thereby dissolving the Burgundian-Hapsburg empire), and made important trading concessions to England (the Asiento, or slave trade).

See alsoAsiento .


Pedro Voltes Bou, El Archiduque Carlos de Austria, rey de los Catalanes (1953).

Juan Mercader Riba, El capitans generals (1957) and Felipe V y Catalunya (1968).

Henry Kamen, The War of Succession in Spain, 1700–1715 (1969).

Alan David Francis, The First Peninsular War, 1702–1713 (1975).

Additional Bibliography

Bernardo Arés, José M de. La sucesión de la monarquía hispánica, 1665–1725: Lucha política en las Cortes y fragilidad económica-fiscal en los reinos. Córdoba, Spain: Universidad de Córdoba, Servicio de Publicaciones: CajaSur Publicaciones, 2006.

                            Suzanne Hiles Burkholder

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