Wars > War of the Spanish Succession

War of the Spanish Succession

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

The War of the Spanish Succession occurred between 1701 and 1714 and involved conflicts in both Europe and the West Indies. This war would have massive implications for piracy and privateering following its conclusion with the Treaty of Utrecht. During the period known as the Post Spanish Succession there was a massive pool of unemployed sailors which caused a rise in piracy as following this there was a relative peace and stability in Europe after many centuries of on and off constant war. This period saw the rise of many infamous pirates such as Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach, Charles Vane, 'Calico' Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read and the rest of the Flying Gang who operated out of their base in Nassau in the Bahamas.

Origins

The War of the Spanish Succession began upon the death of Charles II of Spain in the year 1700 which caused a lot of contention over who should succeed him since he had no male heirs. This meant the end of the Hapsburg Dynasty that had ruled over the Spanish Empire and caused a succession crisis. While Charles II was on his deathbed the various colonial empires planned to carve up the massive Spanish Empire.

During this time the Bourbons in France, the Hapsburgs in Austria and the Wittelsbachs in Bavaria all vied for their piece of the Spanish Empire. The agreement would ultimately fail and Charles II passed down his reign to Philip the Duke of Anjou and the second oldest grandson of the king of France named Louis XIV. However, the other European powers did not want to see a stronger France which would eventually take Spain and eventually the war began. Louis XIV had very good reasons for accepting his grandson to take the Spanish throne but actions taken would later kick off the war.

Louis XIV

First Louis XIV would send troops to secure the Spanish Netherlands which was the buffer region between France and the Dutch Republic. He also wanted to dominate the Spanish trade in New World which would limit both English and Dutch influence in the region. He also refused to remove Philip from the French line of succession which meant that he could inherit both the kingdoms of Spain and France in the future which worried many other European powers.

In order to combat the growing Spanish and French threat England along with the Dutch Republic and Austria and the rest of their allies within the Holy Roman Empire reformed as the Grand Alliance in 1701 and supported Emperor Leopold I claim to the Spanish throne through his son the Archduke Charles whom they began to call King Charles III of Spain. Each of these European powers was interested in seeing the reducing power of France as well as return to the previous state of economic prosperity they were enjoying under Charles II of Spain.

Conflict

War was formally declared by the English, Dutch and Austrians in May of 1702. By 1708 the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy were victorious in the Spanish Netherlands and Italy along with defeating Bavaria who was a major ally of Louis XIV. At this point France was faced with the prospect of invasion by these powers but the unity between the Grand Alliance broke first. The Grand Alliance began to get defeated in Spain and soon political changes in England would decide the course of the war.

West Indies

In Great Britain the Tories came into power in 1710 and wanted an end to the conflict. Following this the French and British worked together to create a peace conference with Britain halting its military and combat operations in 1712. The Dutch, Austrians, and German continued to try and get a stronger position in the negotiations however, a defeat by Marshal Villars soon compelled them to accept British and French terms.

Treaty of Utrecht

Following the end of the War of the Spanish Succession the Spanish Empire was carved up by the other European colonial empires. Under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714 the Austrians received most of the former European holdings of Spain. The Duke of Anjou retained Spain and Spanish America following his renouncement of the claim to the French Crown. From here he would reign as King Philip V and European stability and peace were on the horizon.

Post Spanish Succession Period

However, peace in Europe did not mean peace in the West Indies.

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