Transition To Modern History
Spain And The Reformation
Rise Of The Dutch Republic
England Under The Tudors
The Turks And Other Nations In The Sixteenth Century
The Thirty Years' War.
Age Of Louis Xiv
Constitutional Struggle In England
Suppression Of The Ottoman Power
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Age Of Louis XIV
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
After the death of Henry IV, of France, in 1610 by the hand and dagger of Ravaillac, his son succeeded as Louis XIII, at the age of nine, the regent being the Queen-mother, Maria de' Medici. A miserable time of court intrigues, factions, and internal disorders ensued until 1624, when the King gave himself up to the guidance of the great statesman who was for twenty years to be the leading politician of Europe and the virtual sovereign of France. This famous man, Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal de Richelieu, was born at Paris in 1585, and in 1616 became Secretary of State for war and foreign affairs. After a temporary loss of influence, Richelieu came to the head of affairs in France in 1624. Richelieu aimed at and effected three things. These were, firstly, absolute authority for the French sovereign over the aristocracy; secondly, the crushing of the political power of the Huguenots or Protestant party in the country; thirdly, the establishment of France as a leading Nation in Europe. The qualities which enabled him to achieve these ends were energy, perseverance, determination, coolness, and craft. In curtailing the power of the clergy and nobles at home, Richelieu was carrying out the plans of his great predecessor, Sully. In order to increase the influence of France abroad, he waged war both with Germany and Spain.
The struggle of the French Protestants for religious freedom had often been made, by the nobles and royal princes of France, a cloak for ambitious designs in political affairs. Richelieu was well aware of this, and determined to end a state of things which acted as a continual check on the despotic exercise of the royal power. The Edict or Nantes had greatly increased the influence of the Huguenots; and soon after Richelieu came into power they were in a state of revolt, aiming at independence, and maintaining themselves in their stronghold, La Rochelle, on the west coast of France.
The resistance made against the royal forces was of the most determined character, and was helped by an English fleet under the Duke of Buckingham, which brought supplies for a time to the defenders. Richelieu, ecclesiastic as he was, commanded the attacking army in person, and his skill and patience reduced the town at last. By building a huge mole of stone across the harbor mouth he cut off the communication seaward, and forced a surrender through famine in October, 1628. The attempts of the Huguenots to acquire distinct political power in the State were thus finally frustrated. It must not be sup-posed that the great Cardinal was intolerant in religious matters; here he was in advance of the ideas of his age, and left the vanquished Huguenots liberty of worship and equality of rights, employing them throughout his ministry along with Catholics, in the army, the magistracy, and other capacities.
In 1626 Richelieu caused the demolition of all the feudal castles which could not be used for the defense of the frontiers, and which were a perpetual menace to the crown, a means of overawing the neighboring towns and country districts, and a reminder to the nobles of their ancient power. He also abolished the offices of grand-admiral and constable, which had given to the holders an almost royal authority over the fleet and the army. At various times the Cardinal used the utmost rigor against great nobles who disputed the King's preeminence or plotted his own power in the State. In 1632 the Duke of Montmorency, a leading noble, was executed for treason; all attempts at resistance and all plots were put down or detected by Richelieu's vigor and vigilance, and in 163o he had triumphed over the influence of the Queen-mother herself, and caused the King to banish her from the court. The policy of Richelieu during the Thirty Years' War was to aid, as occasion required, the Count of Mansfield and Gustavus Adolphus, in order to humble the German Emperor, and it was by his assistance that, in 164o, Portugal again became independent of Spain. This great administrator found time, amid all his political schemes, to encourage literature and science, being the founder of the famous French Academy and the Jardin des Plantes. He died in 1642, and early in 1643 Louis XIII followed him, leaving a son five years old, who succeeded him as Louis XIV. Richelieu is the subject of a sketch in the volume "Foreign Statesmen."
Louis XIV came to the throne of France in 1643, and reigned for seventy-two years, until 1715. His reign forms a period of great importance in the history both of France and of Europe one in which France rose to the height of power and was a standing menace to other States. The interest belonging to this age is of the highest and most varied kind, including momentous contests on the field of battle, affecting the welfare of the leading Nations of Europe; grand scientific discoveries; the splendor of literary glory; the eloquence of great divines; the creation of public works in France roads, canals, ports, fortresses, and splendid buildings for the adornment of her capital; the development of French art, manufactures, commerce, and colonization; the founding of literary and scientific institutions; the spread of the renown of the "Grand Monarque," as the French styled their King, to the furthest regions of the globe. With this the historian of France must record the vanishing of the last vestiges of constitutional freedom in the land; the monstrous growth of luxury at the court; the drying up of the true sources of national prosperity through an evil system of finance, consisting mainly of a severe and unequal taxation which pressed heavily on the cultivators of the soil; the corruption of national manners and morals through vicious indulgence in the highest ranks, veiled by courtly graces of demeanor, and gilded by the display of imposing magnificence in equipage and costume; the increase of poverty, deepening into penury and wretchedness, among the tillers of the soil; the utter defeat of French schemes of universal conquest; the passing of glory into gloom, of exultation into silence and shame; the final leaving of a legacy of incipient and ever-growing mischief to a successor on the throne who was to bring France near to the ruin and resurrection known as the First French Revolution. All this, and more than this, is involved in the narrative of the age of Louis XIV, of which we here present the outline.
The long reign of Louis XIV may be divided into three parts:
(1) The government of Cardinal Mazarin;
(2) The development of ambitious policy of the King;
(3) The general failure of those schemes of aggrandizement.
While Louis XIV was a minor his mother, Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III, King of Spain, held the Regency. She made Cardinal Mazarin, an Italian and a friend of Richelieu's, her first Minister, and he ruled the country, with intervals of brief banishment and disgrace, from 1643 to 1661. He had great difficulties to contend with at first, as the jealous nobles plotted against him in the hope of recovering the power lost under Richelieu, and bad finance with heavy taxes caused an outbreak of civil war. The French Parliament still tried to assert its rights in refusing to register royal decrees as to taxation, and the party opposed to the Queen-Regent and Mazarin was known as the Fronde. This term was one used derisively of the Parliamentary party, as if they were like the schoolboys, who, each armed with a sling (fronde), did mischief in the streets of Paris, dispersing at the sight of a police-man and rallying when he disappeared. A wit of the time mocked by this word the spasmodic efforts of the Constitutional party, and they adopted it in earnest, wearing a hat-cord in the form of a sling, and calling themselves Frondeurs. The feeble doings of the supporters of freedom in France were in strong contrast to those of the Englishmen who had, shortly before this, dealt decisively with the tyranny of Charles I. The Fronde lasted from 1648 to 1654, and the selfishness of the leaders of the revolt, and the desultory aimless violence which they used, served only to strengthen the royal power.
In 1659 Mazarin made peace with Spain, and Louis XIV married Maria Theresa, the Spanish King's daughter, an alliance of importance in the future as regarded the affairs of France and Spain. In 1661 Mazarin died, and the King, at the age of twenty-three, took power at once into his own hands, and remained until the day of his death absolute master of his realm.
The States-General of France, which body answered most nearly to a Parliament, had met, for the last time before the Revolution of 1789, in the year 1615. The French "Parliament" was the Parliament of Paris, the highest French court of law. The claim of this body to the right of refusing to register the royal decrees was now entirely disregarded by Louis XIV, and in 1673 he ordered that all his edicts should be registered within eight days without discussion a demand with which the Parliament henceforth complied. The French monarchy became more absolute than any, except that of Russia, which modern times have seen in Europe. The will of the King was, literally, the law of the land, and when Louis XIV said (as he often did) "L'Etat, c'est moi" "I am the State" he was not, as is often supposed, uttering a vainglorious and tyrannical boast, but reminding those around him of a simple and incontrovertible fact.
Louis XIV has been sarcastically styled by Lord Bolingbroke "the best actor of Majesty that ever filled a throne." Macaulay says: "He was not a great General; he was not a great statesman; but he was, in one sense of the words, a great King. Never was there so consummate a master of what our James the First would have called King-craft of all those arts which most advantageously display the merits of a Prince, and most completely hide his defects." The truth is that there is much in the history of Louis XIV's reign which strikes the imagination and throws a glamor over the facts that his internal administration and foreign policy were in the end failures; that the best interests of the Nation were sacrificed to the magnificence of the court, the vanity of the monarch, and the intolerance of religious bigotry; and that, in creating an unnatural and delusive splendor, the whole system was tending to inevitable gloom and decay.
The King himself, who stood but five feet eight, was made to look majestically tall, as men thought, by being propped below on shoes with heels four inches deep, and crowned above with huge long-flowing wig. A swelling chest, and head reared well aloft, with strutting gait, and out-turned toes, complete the picture of the personal appearance and demeanor of the man whom Frenchmen of the Seventeenth Century delighted to honor and obey. It must, nevertheless, be admitted, that in some points the manners of the great Louis and his courtiers possessed a grace, however studied, an air and tone, however artificial, a polish, however assumed and insincere, which were to be preferred to the boorish roughness and simplicity that followed the decay of chivalry in many parts of Europe. Under Louis XIV French ways and fashions became the models for the higher circles of society in every other country, and some good, along with much evil, was the result to the civilization of the time. Louis XIV was a man who, with little or no education, had a keen eye for genius and ability in others, who could choose his instruments well, and who showed energy, promptness, and determination in the use of means for the attainment of his ends.
The power of France, when it was fully developed under Louis XIV, was indeed formidable. The territory of the country was "large, compact, fertile, well-placed both for attack and for defense, situated in a happy climate, well inhabited by a brave, active, and ingenious people." The Government was absolute, so that all the resources of the Nation could be promptly wielded at the direction of a single will. The revenue of the crown far exceeded in amount that of any other European monarchy.
The army, excellently disciplined, and commanded by the greatest Generals then living, consisted of more than 120,000 men. Such an array of regular troops had not been seen in Europe since the downfall of the Roman Empire. France was also becoming powerful at sea, and soon had no superior in maritime forces, Such was her strength during the last forty years of the Seventeenth Century, that no enemy could singly withstand her, and that two great coalitions, in which half Christendom was united against her, failed of success. A country thus strong and united in herself, and ruled by a warlike, ambitious, and high-spirited sovereign, could not but be an object of concern to the other Nations of Europe,, when Louis XIV, in 1661, assumed the Government of France.
Nor was there in other Nations of Europe at this time anything that promised a stout resistance to the schemes of conquest cherished by the French King. England, by the return of the Stuarts, was reduced to a nullity. Whenever Charles II took any part in European politics, his conduct was almost always dishonorable, wicked, and calculated to further the objects of Louis XIV's ambition. When England, until 1688, was not an idle spectator of what was passing abroad, she was either an active ally on the side of France, or only a faint-hearted and desultory ally against her. The weakness and disunion of Germany were accomplished by the Thirty Years' War. The power of Spain had greatly declined, and she had been recently beaten in war by France, notably at the great battle of Rocroi, in the northeast of France, in 1643, where the Duc d'Enghien, afterward famous as the great Condé, had gained a signal victory toward the close of the Thirty Years' War. In 1646 the same General had taken Dunkirk from Spain. In 1656 and 1657 he had gained successes for his old foes, the Spaniards, whom he had joined through discontent at his treatment by Mazarin; but in 1658 Condé and the Spanish forces were beaten near Dunkirk, at the Battle of the Dunes, in which Cromwell's soldiers took a brave part on the French side, by the famous General, Turenne, and this had brought about the Peace of the Pyrenees with Spain, in favor of France, in 1659. It was the small and stubborn new Republic of Holland that at this crisis proved an invaluable champion in the interests of European independence. She offered from the first a steady resistance to the ambition of Louis XIV, sustained his fiercest attacks, and in the end baffled his utmost efforts to subdue her, until the time came when the genius of Marlborough, wielding the power of England, struck down the French tyrant on the battle ground of Blenheim.
The man who did most for France in this age in the development of her resources was jean Baptiste Colbert, the famous finance minister, of Scottish descent, who came into power in 1662 as head of the financial department; in 1664 as superintendent of public buildings, arts, and manufactures; and in 1669 as Minister of the Marine. In these capacities the ability and energy of Colbert did wonders for France. His single genius created the finances, commerce, manufactures, and naval power of France. In the revenue department Colbert did away with fraud, disorder, and corruption; he increased the revenue, and at the same time diminished taxation, as Sully liad done under Henri Quatre. His measures greatly increased French trade and manufactures; French ships covered the seas; companies were formed for trading to the East and West Indies and the Coast of Africa; the colonies in Canada and the West Indies began to flourish; new settlements were made in Madagascar and Cayenne; a powerful navy was created, with fortified dockyards and arsenals at Brest, Roche-fort, and Toulon. Under Colbert's direction of affairs the civil and criminal legislation were improved and the arts and sciences were encouraged. In 1663 the Academy of Inscriptions was founded, in 1666 the Academy of Sciences, in 1671 the Academy of Architecture. Literature, astronomy, botany, and natural history were all fostered by this great minister, who died in 1683.
In military affairs, the highest service was rendered by Vauban, the greatest engineer ever produced by France, who became Commissioner-General of Fortifications in 1677. He carried the art of fortifying, attacking, and defending towns to a degree of perfection be-fore unknown. Vauban's work for his country consisted in the fortification of over Soo ancient citadels, the erection of thirty-three new ones, and the principal management and direction of fifty-three sieges. He became Marshal of France in 1703, and his fame has never been surpassed in his particular line of achievement. The frontiers of the east and north of France were ultimately defended by a triple line of fortresses, including the strong citadels of Strasburg, Lille, and Metz.
Louis XIV did not make the best of the great resources of wealth, energy, and skill which were at his command when he found himself master of France and in a position to carry his arms beyond her already ample frontiers. In 1665 Philip IV (Louis' father-in-law) of Spain died, and then Louis, in the name of his wife, though, at his marriage, he had formally renounced such a pretention, advanced a claim to the possession of the Spanish Netherlands, partly what is now Belgium, and went to war in 1667. Turenne was the General in command, and soon took Lille and other fortresses, conquering in three weeks what was afterward known as French Flanders. In 1668 the designs of Louis were for a time checked by the conclusion of the treaty called the Triple Alliance between Sweden, Holland, and England, and in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle Louis gave up his claim to Flanders (the Spanish Netherlands), but was allowed to keep Lille, Tournai, Charleroi, Douai, and Courtrai, the fortresses which he had captured. The result of this first effort of the ambitious Louis had been a distinct and important gain to France.
Louis XIV was actuated by a twofold ambition in the wars of conquest which he waged with the Nations around him. He desired, as a means to a greater end, to round off his frontier and increase his power by the annexation of such neighboring provinces and towns as lay conveniently for this purpose. The greater end which he kept always in view, in his diplomacy and his fighting, was the acquirement for the house of Bourbon of the whole Empire of Spain or, in other words, making France the one great irresistible power of Europe and the world. For this purpose, he lavished the treasure and blood of France without scruple or remorse; for this purpose, he never in any transaction of his whole reign showed the smallest respect for the most solemn obligations of public faith, but violated every treaty as soon as he found it convenient to do so. One of the favorite projects of Louis XIV was the annexation of the territory in the east of France then known as Franche-Comté (Upper Burgundy, now the departments of Doubs, Haute Saône, and Jura), which had passed from France, under Charles VIII, to Germany, and came to Spain on the abdication of Charles V. The treaty of the Triple Alliance, compelling Louis XIV to surrender again Franche-Comté, which Condé had over-, run early in 1668, was the one good act of foreign policy in which the Government of Charles II of England was concerned during the whole of his reign.
Holland, now at the height of her maritime power and a rival of England on the seas, had aroused the wrath of Louis XIV, and he resolved on the destruction of her independence and the annexation of her territory. Charles II of England, against the will of his people, lent his aid to France. The French armies invaded Holland in 1672, and some of the provinces were soon overrun. The Dutch then made a desperate resistance, and were saved from utter ruin only by the determination of their youthful statesman, the Prince of Orange, afterward William III of England. He was then twenty-two years old, and declared that he would die in his country's last ditch rather than see her lost. The dikes were cut and the waters of the ocean were let in over the land; the flood kept back the French forces, and in the end caused their withdrawal from the country. In 1674 England gave up the French alliance, and a grand league was formed against Louis XIV, composed of the German Emperor Leopold, Spain, Denmark, Holland, and the Elector of Brandenburg (the nucleus of the modern Prussia). From 1674 to 1678 a great struggle raged in the Rhine Provinces of Germany, in Flanders, Alsace, and Franche-Comté. On the French side the chief commanders were Turenne and Condé; for the allies, the great Italian Montecucoli, one of the chief commanders of modern times, Turenne's most redoubtable antagonist, and the young William of Orange. Montecucoli greatly distinguished himself against the Swedish army in the Thirty Years' War, and elsewhere, and was now placed at the head of the Imperial troops in the war with France. Both he and Turenne, in 1675, showed the greatest skill and patience in their maneuvers against each other near the Rhine, until the great Frenchman was killed by a cannon ball as he was preparing to encounter Montecucoli; Condé then drove the Italian out of Alsace, after having, in 1674, defeated William of Orange at the battle of Senef, between Mons and Water-loo, in Flanders. The military career of the great Condé ended with this war, which closed, after alternations of success with the Peace of Nimeguen in 1678.
By this war and treaty France had again secured an increase of territory, power, and renown. More strong fortresses and thriving towns in Flanders (what is now the north of France and the south of Belgium) were obtained, Franche-Comté was finally secured, and a part of Alsace annexed, enabling Louis shortly afterward to seize other portions, as he did with the free imperial city of Strasburg in 1681. The influence of France was now widespread in Europe, extending even to Turkey, with whom an alliance had been lately formed against the Empire. Holland recovered under the Treaty of Nimeguen all the territory which she had lost, so that the chief loser in the war was Spain. Louis XIV was at the height of his power and glory, purchased by sacrifices in men and money which had an evil effect on the future of France.
The evil genius of Louis XIV's career was his war-minister Louvois, who after 1666 had the whole management of military affairs. He was hostile to Colbert, and exercised a despotic control over the army and a considerable influence over Louis, even during Colbert's life. Louvois was an able and energetic minister, but his policy as a statesman, lavish of the blood and treasure of France, made his administration, though brilliant in successes largely gained through his reformed organization of the army, disastrous in the end to the country which he served. His schemes of foreign policy were bold and grasping, and it was at his instigation that the wars with Spain and Holland were begun in 1667 and 1672. On Colbert's death, in 1683, the influence of Louvois over the King became greater, and his advice had fatal effects, though he conducted with great ability the wars which ensued upon his counsels. He was in power until his death in 1691; his army system lasted until the Revolution of 1789, but he undid much of the work of Colbert, and greatly injured the commerce of France.
Louis XIV, on the death of his wife, Maria Theresa of Spain, in 1683, privately married Madame de Mainte-non, who henceforth greatly ruled his policy, and who is described in the volume "World's Famous Women." It was she and Louvois who induced Louis to take one of the most impolitic steps of his reign in persecuting the Huguenots, with the idea of having only one form of faith and church government throughout France. The raids made by parties of dragoons upon the Calvinistic heretics are known as dragonnades. The Huguenots were forbidden to practice in professions and several important trades, or to hold public offices, and this was accompanied by still more decisive action. In 1685 the tolerant Edict of Nantes, promulgated by Henri Quatre in 1598, was revoked by Louis, and all the privileges granted to the Huguenots were swept away. Their churches were pulled down, their worship was sup-pressed, their ministers were banished, and the Protestant laity were forbidden to leave the country under severe penalties. Disobedience to the decree was followed by imprisonment, torture, and outrage, and the natural result followed. The Huguenots sought safety and freedom of conscience abroad, and in a short time France was permanently the poorer by the loss of over half a million of Protestant refugees, including many thousands of industrious and skillful artisans, who had fled to England, Holland, Switzerland, and the Protes, tant parts of Germany. The growth of the silk manufacture in England and elsewhere, and of many other profitable occupations, dates from this exile of the Huguenots.
Louis XIV's old enemy, William of Orange, gained in 1689 a great accession of power in becoming King of England as William III. He was the most able and determined foe of the ambitious schemes of the French King, and made it the business of his life to thwart his policy at every turn. A general league was now formed against France, and included England, Spain, Holland, Sweden, the German Empire, Savoy, and other smaller States. Louis declared war, and another struggle began which lasted for eight years, 1689-1697. The armies of the allies in Flanders under William III were generally unsuccessful against the French under the Duke of Luxembourg,, Marshal of France, but they occupied a great part of the French army, and encouraged resistance in other quarters. The French Marshal Catinat, a pupil in war of the great Condé, fought brilliantly against the Duke of Savoy, occupying Savoy and part of Piedmont. The war was ended by the Peace of Ryswick (a village in Holland) in 1697. The conquests on both sides were generally given up, but France was left in possession of Alsace, Strasburg, and Artois. The resources of the country were much diminished, and yet Louis XIV regarded the peace as a mere truce, to gain breathing-time and strength for a still greater struggle into which his ambitious policy was soon to plunge him.
In 1698 there came up the complicated question of the succession to the Spanish throne, which displayed the grasping and formidable ambition of Louis XIV, and ultimately caused the great war which put an end to the predominance of France in Europe. Charles II of Spain had no children; and various claims to his dominions, or parts of them, were put forward in prospect of his speedy death. Louis XIV, whose aim was to make French power and influence supreme in Europe, demanded the Spanish throne for his son Louis, the Dauphin of France, as being son of his Queen Maria Theresa, elder daughter of Philip IV of Spain, and sister to Charles II. The Elector of Bavaria claimed it for his son on the ground of descent from Margaret Theresa, younger daughter of Philip IV of Spain. Both claims were unjust, because Maria Theresa had, on her marriage to Louis XIV, renounced for her descendants all claim to the Spanish succession, and a like renunciation had been made by the daughter of Margaret Theresa when she married the Elector of Bavaria. The Emperor Leopold of Germany claimed the Spanish throne for his son Charles on the ground of his own lineal descent from Philip III of Spain, father of Philip IV. In October, 1698, William III of England and Louis XIV tried to arrange matters by the First Partition Treaty for dividing the Spanish dominions (which included Spain, a large part of Italy, the Spanish Netherlands, and East and West Indian possessions) between the three claimants. Charles II of Spain, however, recovered from his illness, and, on hearing of the secret treaty, made a will leaving all his dominions to the electoral Prince of Bavaria. In February, 1699, the Bavarian Prince died, and all was unsettled again. In February, 1700, the Second Partition Treaty was made for dividing the Spanish dominions between the remaining two claimants, namely, the Dauphin of France and Charles, the son of the Emperor Leopold. All was made vain on the death of Charles II of Spain in October, 1700, when by will he left the whole of his dominions to Philip Duke of Anjou, second son of the Dauphin of France, and so grandson of Louis XIV. This Prince was at once proclaimed as Philip V of Spain; and it was then that Louis XIV proudly declared that "the Pyrenees had ceased to exist," meaning that France and Spain were now virtually one dominion. The indignation of Austria was at once roused against this settlement. The Emperor Leopold's son Charles assumed the title of "Charles III of Spain," and the Emperor pre-pared for war. William III took instant and energetic action. He made use of the urgent alarm which was felt throughout Europe to form the Grand Alliance against France, composed of England, Holland, and Austria (afterward joined by Portugal, the Elector of Brandenburg, Savoy, and Denmark), in support of the claim of Leopold's son Charles to be King of Spain. This arrangement was made in September, 1701. The aim of Louis XIV was made clear by his issue of letters-patent in favor of his grandson Philip V of Spain, pre-serving his rights to the throne of France. On the death of Louis XIV France and the Spanish dominions would thus form one preponderating Empire. Louis was already in possession of many strong fortresses on the frontier of the Spanish Netherlands, and the danger was great and immediate, the resources of the whole Spanish monarchy being now virtually at the French King's disposal. The Grand Alliance was concluded on September 7, 1701; and Louis further provoked England by recognizing the elder Pretender as claimant for the throne of England, when James II died at St. Germains on September 16th. While William III was making vigorous preparations for war, he died in February, 1702, and Queen Anne declared war against France and Spain in May.
The great struggle that followed, known as the War of the Spanish Succession, lasted for twelve years (1702-1714), and was carried on in Flanders, Germany, Italy, and Spain, in a series of campaigns.
In Flanders the war was maintained for the allies with great success by the leading general of the age, one of the greatest in all history, the Duke of Marlborough. He there took many fortresses from the French, and defeated the French and Bavarians under Marshal Villeroy at Ramillies in 1706. In 1708, in conjunction with his able and faithful supporter, Prince Eugene of Savoy, Marlborough beat the French under the Duke of Vendôme at Oudenarde, and drove them completely out of Flanders. In 1709 Marlborough and Eugene won the desperate battle of Malplaquet against the French under Marshals Villars and Boufflers, and in 1710 Douai and other fortresses were taken. The decisive battle of the war, rightly viewed as to its ultimate result, was fought in Germany. The Elector of Bavaria had joined Louis XIV's cause, and the Emperor Leopold was soon brought into great straits by French successes. The Generals commanding Louis' forces in that quarter were Marshals Tallard and Marsin and the Duc de Villars. Under Villars battles were gained by the French in 1702 and 1703, which opened to them the heart of Germany, and the important cities of Augsburg and Passau were captured. About the same time the French army on the Upper Rhine and Moselle was successful under Tallard, and Landau was taken at the end of 1703. An insurrection against Leopold had broken out in Hungary, and when the campaign of 1704 opened, the peril to the Empire was great. A bold plan was formed in the military councils of Louis XIV. In Flanders the French were instructed to act on the defensive, protected by their strong fortresses, and a part of the army was to march from Flanders, under Villeroy, and form a junction in Germany with the armies of Tallard, the Elector of Bavaria, and Marsin. The French army in Italy was to pass through the Tyrol into Austria, and the whole vast host was to unite upon the Danube. The insurrection in Hungary was to be helped, in order to distract the Emperor's forces, and it was believed that a march on Vienna would crush all resistance and end the war.
At this great crisis for Europe the genius of the Duke of Marlborough, the able support given by Prince Eugene, and the gallantry of British soldiers, saved the Nations from conquest by Louis XIV. Marlborough divined the French plan, and in May, 1704, started from Flanders on his great march to the Danube, bewildered Villeroy and Tallard by his movements and demonstrations, paralyzed their action, prevented their combination against him, and, to sum up all, routed Tallard and Marsin at the glorious battle of Blenheim on August 13th, thereby completely delivering Germany, and changing the future of Europe and the world. By this battle, says Creasy, "the military ascendency of the allies was completely established. Throughout the rest of the war Louis fought only in defense. Blenheim had dissipated for ever his once proud visions of almost universal conquest." After Blenheim, Villars gained successes against the imperial forces in Germany in 1705-1707; but the victories of Marlborough in Flanders caused him to be summoned thither, where he was defeated at Malplaquet.
The hero of the war in Italy was the famous Prince Eugene, a son of a Duke of Savoy. He was able both as a General and diplomatist. Entering the Austrian service in 1683, he fought with distinction against the Turks, and in 1697, by a great victory over them, became renowned throughout Europe. In this war of the Spanish Succession, Eugene forced his way through the Tyrol into Italy, against the French Marshal, Catinat, defeated Villeroy near Cremona in 1702, assisted Marlborough at Blenheim in 1704, and returned to Italy in 1705. His army was defeated by the French General, the Duke of Vendôme, after a wound had compelled Prince Eugene to leave the field, but soon afterward, when Vendôme was recalled, Eugene stormed the French lines at Turin, and in a month drove the enemy out of Italy.
In Spain, the war was conducted for Philip V by the Dukes of Berwick and Vendôme against the English and allies under the Earl of Peterborough, the Earl of Galway, and General Stanhope, and matters went generally well for France, so that by the end of 1710 Philip V was left firmly seated on the Spanish throne. In October, 1711, on the death of his brother, the Emperor Joseph, who had succeeded his father, Leopold, in 1705, the titular "Charles III" of Spain was elected Emperor as Charles VI, and all cause for war as regarded Spain was at an end. Philip V was the first of the Bourbon line that reigned in Spain.
The Peace of Utrecht (1713) stipulated that the crowns of Spain and France should not be united on the death of Louis XIV, thus securing the main point fought for by the allies; that the Spanish Netherlands should come to the Emperor, along with Lombardy, Naples, and Sardinia; that the Duke of Savoy should have Sicily; and that Gibraltar, as captured by England, should remain in her possession. Thus was the Spanish monarchy dismembered, and the ambition of Louis XIV finally frustrated. The Treaty of Rastadt in 1714 ended the war as between France, with Bavaria, and the Emperor. In 1715 Louis XIV died.