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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
War of the Spanish Succession

The first of the great 18C struggles to achieve a workable balance of power in Europe by preventing the dominance of either the *Bourbon dynasty of France or the *Hapsburg dynasty of Austria (or the *Holy Roman Empire). It was prompted by the Spanish king Charles II dying without an heir in 1700; he left his extensive possessions and the Spanish crown to Philip, a 16-year-old grandson of the French king Louis XIV. This increase in French power was opposed by an alliance of Britain and Austria. The disputed Spanish territories within Europe were Spain herself, the Spanish Netherlands (approximately modern Belgium) and large parts of Italy.

Full-scale hostilities developed slowly. In 1704 the Battle of *Blenheim prevented a French invasion of Austria; and in 1706 Marlborough's victory at Ramillies drove the French out of the Spanish Netherlands, while in the same year Prince Eugene of Savoy captured from them much of Italy. Peace negotiations alternated with continuing warfare, the main stumbling block being the allied insistence that Louis XIV should if necessary attack Spain to remove his grandson from the throne.

Eventually France and Spain signed individual treaties at Utrecht (1713–14) with each of their opponents. That between Britain and France (11 Apr. 1713) gave Britain major French possessions in Canada (Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the Hudson Bay territory); moreover France agreed to recognize *Anne rather than James *Stuart as the rightful British monarch. In the treaty between Britain and Spain (13 July 1713) Britain received *Gibraltar and *Minorca and was granted the right to be the only foreign nation supplying Spanish America with slaves for the next 30 years. Britain therefore emerged as a much stronger commercial power, but the original purpose of the war was not achieved; Philip V remained in Madrid as the founder of the *Bourbon dynasty in Spain.

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