The European States-System in the Early 18th Century
The European states-system in the early 18th century was characterized by succession issues and power struggles between various European powers, particularly between Bourbon and Habsburg. The article discusses the pragmatic sanction issued by Charles VI to guarantee the succession to the Habsburg Monarchy and the French pursuit of dominance over Europe through alliances and leap-frog diplomacy. The article also talks about colonial competition between Britain and France in North America and the likelihood of armed struggle due to increasing tensions between British merchants and Spanish commercial restrictions. The article concludes by mentioning the ultimate victory of the French in the war of succession, resulting in Bourbon control over southern Italy, and the looming threat of colonial conflict between Britain and France.
Table of Contents
- The War of Jenkins’ Ear
- The War of the Austrian Succession
- Frederick II’s Rise to Power
- The Peace of Dresden
- The Establishment of Prussian Supremacy
What was the War of Jenkins’ Ear about?
The War of Jenkins’ Ear was a conflict between Britain and Spain in 1739, ignited by disputes about the northern limits of Spanish Florida. The war was fueled by popular indignation against Spain, galvanized by the story of British merchant Captain Robert Jenkins, who claimed that his ear was amputated by a Spanish coastguard seven years earlier. Although the British were successful in some small victories, they lacked the resources to operate successfully in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and home waters.
What was the War of the Austrian Succession and its impact on European politics?
The War of the Austrian Succession was a greater conflict that began in 1740 and accelerated the centuries-old conflict between Bourbon and Habsburg for the domination of continental Europe. This war intensified after the death of three monarchs, leading to the invasion of Silesia by Frederick II of Prussia. The Battle of Mollwitz showed that Prussia could defend its conquest and led France to conclude an alliance with Frederick, joining the war. The cunning French plan to create four roughly equal states failed due to their inability to achieve necessary military supremacy and control Frederick II’s actions. Instead of behaving like a loyal ally of France, Frederick II sought to maintain a balance between France and Austria, leading to his signing a secret truce with the Austrians in October 1741.
Who became the Holy Roman Emperor during the War of the Austrian Succession?
The Elector of Bavaria, Charles Albert, became the Holy Roman Emperor during the War of the Austrian Succession.
What was Frederick II’s role in the War of the Austrian Succession, and how did he gain supremacy?
Frederick II of Prussia invaded Silesia, occupied the province in January 1741, and captured Prague, but was forced to retreat as his army deserted in a winter campaign. He secured peace with Great Britain after victories at Hohenfriedberg, Soor, Katholisch-Hennersdorf, and Kesselsdorf. Frederick gained Silesia from Austria and a million talers from Saxony in the Peace of Dresden. The war ended in a settlement that left France empty-handed, despite victories in various territories. Frederick the Great established his supremacy over Hanover and Saxony and challenged Austria for the mastery of the German-speaking world.
What was the impact of the War of the Austrian Succession on Maria Theresa’s empire?
Maria Theresa was bitter about her treatment after the war, but at least the majority of her empire had been preserved. Losing Silesia to Prussia was a significant blow as it was populous, economically advanced, fiscally productive, and formed an integral part of the economies of neighboring provinces. Silesia was also strategically important as it put Prussian armies within close proximity of Prague and Vienna.
In conclusion, the European states-system in the early 18th century was marked by power struggles between various European powers, particularly between Bourbon and Habsburg. The War of Jenkins’ Ear and the War of the Austrian Succession were two significant conflicts that shaped European politics at the time. Frederick II of Prussia gained supremacy, challenging Austria for the mastery of the German-speaking world and establishing Prussian control over Hanover and Saxony. Although these conflicts had far-reaching consequences, the European states-system remained precarious and fraught with dangers that were only exacerbated by colonial competitions between European powers.