In 1700, Spain's King Charles II died without an
heir to the throne. He was the last of the Hapsburg Dynasty to rule
vast empire. His will named Philip, Duke of Anjou,
grandson of King Louis XIV of France, as his successor. Philip, of the
Bourbon Dynasty, was also in line for the French
throne, and his accession could have united the empires of France and
upsetting the balance of power in Europe.
Consequently, rival powers supported Archduke Charles of Austria, of the
The result of the conflicting claims was a
world war pitting France and Spain against an alliance led by the
and the Holy Roman Empire. There were battles in
Spain, Italy, France, Spanish Netherlands (modern day Belgium), and
as well as the Spanish, English and French colonies of
North and South America and the Caribbean. There were significant
victories on both sides but those of the Grand
Alliance had a long-lasting effect.
In northwest Spain, the British and Dutch
fleets captured or destroyed the French and Spanish treasure fleets.
the way to British naval superiority. England's Duke
of Marlboro and Austria's Prince Eugene of Savoy, combined forces to
defeat the French advance on Vienna at the Battle of
Blenheim in Bavaria. This forced Bavaria out of the war. Marlborough's
victory at the Battle of Ramillies drove the French
out of Spanish Netherlands. Prince Eugene defeated the French at the
Siege of Turin ending French power in Italy.
In the Western Hemisphere the war was known as
Queen Anne's War, after the English monarch. The Caribbean fleets
plundered unprotected towns. Privateers pursued
Spanish and Portuguese treasure fleets off the coast of South America
Mexico. English and Spanish soldiers and their
Indian allies traded attacks on St. Augustine, Florida, and Charles
Carolina. The territory between Acadia (present day
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) in French Canada and the English
Bay Colony was fought over by colonists and their
Indian allies. Small towns were sacked in Massachusetts and New
and captives taken. Port Royal in Acadia was
repeatedly attacked without success until a naval expedition sent by
succeeded. The fleet sent to conquer Quebec was a
disastrous failure. Further battles caused destruction in Newfoundland.
King Louis XIV made repeated attempts to
negotiate. In 1711, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, died. He would be
his brother, Archduke Charles. The possibility of
Archduke Charles combining the Hapsburg and Spanish Empires would also
upset the balance of power. Realizing this, the
English agreed to negotiate with the French. The resulting 1713 Treaty
Utrecht, changed the maps of Europe and North America.
The Duke of Anjou became King Philip V of Spain
upon renouncing any claim to the throne of France. The Spanish
were ceded to the Holy Roman Empire, Savoy and
Britain. France gave up claims to Hudson Bay and ceded Acadia,
and the French half of St. Kitts to Britain.
Although France retained Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec,
was the beginning of the decline of French power in