War of the Spanish Succession Causes consequences Characters

War of the Spanish Succession

Political conflict for the succession of the Spanish Crown. The War of the Spanish Succession was a political conflict that occurred in Europe, between the years 1700 and 1713 , which involved almost all the monarchies of the continent.

The war originated from the death of Carlos II of Spain, who left no descendants and proposed, under will, that the heir to the throne be Felipe de Borbón, grandson of Louis XIV , at the time King of France.

Given this, the two main powers of the region, France and the Holy Roman Empire (Austria, Prussia and Hanover), began to impose themselves to obtain the throne.

In this way a continental conflict was unleashed between two sides: on the one hand there were the kingdoms of Castile and France , which were in favor of Felipe de Borbón being the new king; and on the other hand Austria, Russia, Aragon, Portugal, Holland, Prussia and Savoy , who feared that the unification of these kingdoms would bring territorial consequences on Europe.

This war of succession evolved to the point of being considered a civil war, since it unleashed various battles and combats that in total added more than 600,000 victims .

Finally, the War of the Spanish Succession culminated together with a series of agreements and treaties signed between 1713 and 1715, called the Treaty of Utrecht . Among the points agreed in the treaties, it was established that it would effectively be Felipe V who would assume the Spanish Crown , preserving French law but with the prohibition of unifying both territories . In this way, the Bourbons reached the royal house of Spain.

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Causes and consequences of the war of the Spanish Succession


The main reason that triggered the War of the Spanish Succession was the death of King Carlos II of Spain, in the year 1700, who left no descendants. 

Carlos II was the last representative of the House of Habsburgs and his death led to the beginning of the Bourbon dynasty as kings of Spain and France , which the rest of the European monarchies had tried to avoid.

After the death of Carlos II, the kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire disputed the kingdom of Spain, trying to place on the throne their own related successors and belonging to their families.

For Austria , whose dynasty was long ruled by the Habsburgs, the successor was to be Archduke Charles of Austria, son of Emperor Leopold I of Austria.

The other candidate was Felipe V, grandson of Louis XVI , of Bourbon origin. This second option implied a change in the entire structure of the Spanish monarchy and an inclination towards France in the balance of power , an option that did not attract the other monarchies of the continent.

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The main consequences of the war of the Spanish Succession were the following:

  • The acceptance of Felipe de Borbón (Felipe V) as King of Spain by the rest of the European monarchies , with the establishment of an absolutist monarchy such as in France, where all power was exercised by the monarch.
  • The courts of the kingdom of Aragon and Catalonia were absorbed by Castile, and benefited by the new commercial relations.
  • After the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht , between 1713 and 1715, and began peace in Europe. 
  • On March 6, 1714, the Rastatt Treaty was signed , which divided the territories of the Spanish Netherlands and some German cities, and also settled the territorial disputes of Great Britain over the American colonies.
  • In 1713 the Salic law was established for Spain , which also governed France and prevented a woman from being sovereign . This ensured that France and Spain could not unify their kingdoms  through family ties.
  • The Spanish monarchy was the most disadvantaged of this war, since it lost many territories and influences that it would never recover again, after living a couple of centuries of splendor after the Conquest of America .

Characters of the War of the Spanish Succession

Among the protagonists of the War of the Spanish Succession, the following stand out:

  • Felipe de Anjou or Felipe V (1683-1746) : King of Spain after the death of Carlos II, who started the Bourbon dynasty in the kingdom of Spain.
  • Leopold I (1640-1705) : Holy Roman Emperor, who contested the Crown of the Spanish Empire.
  • Carlos, Archduke of Austria (1685-1740) : son of Leopoldo I, who pretended to be the successor of Carlos II in Spain.
  • Charles II of Habsburg (1661-1700) : King of Castile who died without heirs, leaving vacant a position highly coveted by the rest of Europe.

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