The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) was a major conflict leading to the end of French supremacy on the European continent. For the first time, the armies of the Sun King, Louis XIV, lost their reputation of invincibility. The purpose of this essay is to provide an extensive analysis of the causes and consequences of the War of the Spanish Succession, mainly focused on France but also on the other European countries involved in the conflict. We will also try to analyze the reasons for several French failures on military terrain, on a strategic and tactical scale. The first part will be devoted to the causes of the war, mainly focused on the strategic interests of each belligerent. In the second part, I will analyze the French failures on a strategic and military scale. Lastly, the third part will be focused on the consequences of this major war for France and the other countries involved.
[...] Bavaria was knocked out of the war and France lost one of its two major allies. Nevertheless, the French strategy and problems of commandment are not the only reasons of the French defeats at Blenheim in 1704, at Ramillies in the Brabant in 1706, and at Audenarde in Flander in 1708. The problem had also its origin in the French tactical doctrine. Even if the French Infantry was organised in units divided in squads, as in the other European armies. [...]
[...] The War of the Spanish Succession ended in 1714, with the Treaties of Rastatt and Baden between Austria and France. One year before, in 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht had ended the hostilities between the United-Provinces, England and France. III )Consequences of the war The direct consequences of the war were quite mixed for France. Philip V was recognized as King of Spain Philip V was recognised as King of Spain, but renounced his place in the French line of succession, thereby precluding the union of the French and Spanish crowns. [...]
[...] II) The French military failures The complexity of the causes of this war is genuine, as is the complexity of the French military warfare and its failure to control fully the situation and, at the end, to win the war. The first strategic difficulty for the armies of the Sun King was that they had to fight on three to four fronts at the same time: the Netherlands, the German States & Austria, Italy and Spain. Besides, when the northern front broke, the Kingdom of France itself became a battlefield. [...]
[...] In the war that was about to break, he could only count on few allies: Spain of course, Cologne, Savoy, Portugal and Bavaria, even if this country had also claims on the Spanish throne. In fact, he realized that he would have to fight Austria in all the situations, as the Archduke Charles didn't accept the Treaty of London. Accepting the will would thus be more beneficial for him. Nevertheless, he didn't fully accept the will. Indeed, the Sun King stated that the Duke of Anjou shall conserve its rights on the French throne. [...]
[...] Spain, stripped of its territories in Italy and the Low Countries, lost most of its power, and became a second-rate nation in Continental politics. By way of conclusion, we may say that the causes of the War of the Spanish Succession were mainly strategic and not only limited to obscure dynastic reasons. Furthermore, the causes of the French failures have got strategic and tactical reasons. Besides, the consequences of the War are heavy for France, but also for the other countries [...]
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