The War of the Spanish Succession

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The Battle of Vigo Bay in 1701

War of the Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714)
This major conflict raged for 13 years at the beginning of the century and contained two of the three largest battles fought anywhere in the world in the 18th Century – Oudenarde in 1708 and Malpauquet in 1709, both of which had about 160,000 combatants.

Great Britain was a major player, Winston Churchill’s ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough, commanded the Allied armies at both Oudenarde and Malpauquet and many British troops took part. The Act of Union in 1707 occurred during the war and at the outset England and Scotland were listed as separate combatants. It was mostly fought in western Europe but had a North American theatre with small detachments of British and French regular troops with colonial militia and Native American allies; Iroquois in the case of the British and Wakaniki in the French case. This was a small-scale war in the wildernesses for control of key towns and forts, known also as Queen Anne’s war.
Conflict arose when Charles II, the last Hapsburg King of Spain died childless in 1700, having left his throne to his grandnephew Philip, Duc d’Anjou, the second eldest grandson of King Louis XIV of France. Other great powers were alarmed by the extension of French power into Spain and formed a Grand Alliance to press the claim of a Hapsburg candidate – Austrian Archduke Charles.

Spain divided along tribal lines, with Castille, including Madrid, supporting the Bourbon Anjou and Aragon (Catalonia) supporting the Hapsburg Charles. Two opposing alliances formed – France, Bavaria, Naples, Sicily and Mantua supported the Bourbon candidate whilst Austria, Britain, Dutch Republic, Prussia, Portugal, Savoy and Hanover supported the Hapsburg claimant, known as the Grand Alliance.

At the battle of Vigo Bay in 1701, a British / Dutch fleet captured a Spanish treasure convoy of 3 ships intact and captured or destroyed its entire French escort fleet of 15 ships of the line; in 1704 2,000 British and Dutch troops attacked and captured Gibraltar.
The Alliance was successful in defeating the Bourbons in continental Europe at the battles of Blenheim, Oudenarde, Malpauquet and Ramillies, albeit at a heavy cost, and overrunning the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium) before staging an invasion of Spain in 1710. The Hapsburg allies however began to falter; the Tories came to power in Britain in the same year with policy of ending the war. Britain ceased military operations in 1712, but the other allies fought on hoping for a greater share of the spoils to offset the huge cost of the war – the main reason that Britain withdrew. The Hapsburg invasion of Spain was defeated at the battle of Villaviciosa in 1710 and Philip confirmed as King. The treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714) allowed Philip to keep Spain and South America, but he lost most of his European territories to Austria and ceded Gibraltar to Britain.

 

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Twenty Biggest Battles of the 18th Century

15th-at-emsdorf

Battle Year Country Troops Conflict Outcome
Oudenarde 1708 Belgium 165,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Panipat 1791 India 160,000 Afghan – Maratha Wars Afghan Victory
Malplaquet 1709 France 160,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Villinghausen 1761 Germany 155,000 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Stavuchany 1737 Ukraine 150,000 Russian-Ottoman Wars Russian Victory
Tourcoing 1794 France 144,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory
Grocka 1739 Serbia 140,000 Ottoman-Hapsburg Wars Ottoman Victory
Lauffeld 1747 Netherlands 140,000 War of the Austrian Succession French Victory
Prague 1757 Czech Republic 127,000 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Ramillies 1706 Belgium 122,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Kagul 1770 Moldavia 115,000 Russian-Ottoman Wars Russian Victory
Fleurus 1794 France 115,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory
Kunersdorf 1759 Germany 112,000 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Breslau 1757 Poland 112,000 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Hochkirch 1758 Germany 110,000 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Blenheim 1704 Netherlands 108,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Fontenoy 1745 France 102,000 War of the Austrian Succession French Victory
Hastenbeck 1757 Hanover 95,000 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Siege of Maastricht 1748 Netherlands 93,000 War of the Austrian Succession French Victory
Piacenza 1746 Italy 85,000 War of the Austrian Succession Allied Victory

Twenty Biggest Battles of the 18th Century by Combatants

 

Copyright ©2018 Savereo John